MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- When Austin Joyner put on a varsity uniform for the first time, he thought to himself, “there’s nothing to be nervous about.”
Marysville-Pilchuck (Wash.) had three games left in its season, and he was a freshman suiting up for his first start. But he felt prepared. He wanted the ball.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back took the confidence he had in his ability and turned it into six touchdowns over the Tomahawks’ final three games.
“I thought it was going to be more scary when I came up, but it just felt like football still,” Joyner said. “I just played it the same way and got those touchdowns.”
He scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in his second start and finished his freshman season by scoring three times -- one rushing touchdown and two receiving -- in Marysville-Pilchuck’s final game of the season.
“He’s a pretty talented athlete, that’s for sure,” Tomahawks coach Brandon Carson said. “He’s got a lot of God-given ability. He really seems to love football and he plays hard every single night.”
Ask just about any athlete in the country about their first high school start and they will talk about nerves, the uncertainty of something new. Joyner, though, tells a different story.
“That’s the thing, I wasn’t even nervous,” he said. “I just knew I was going to go out and play.”
He had so much success so quickly, he wasn’t sure what to expect out of his second season.
“I just wanted to see how good I could be," he said. "I didn’t have a clue about how many yards I should be able to get in a season and how tough that would be.”
Joyner has been playing football for as long as he can remember. He picked the game up while watching his older brothers and set in motion a plan to play for as long as his hard work and talent would allow.
“My goal is to go to the NFL,” he said. “That’s been my dream ever since I was little. At least get my college paid for, get an education.”
As Marysville-Pilchuck prepares for a Class 3A first-round playoff game this week, the sophomore is well on his way to earning a Division-I scholarship. Through 10 games so far, Joyner has rushed for 1,695 yards and 19 touchdowns on 117 carries. He has 10 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s had a pretty darn good year,” Carson said. “He’s a pretty gifted back, great speed. He has great power. He’s pretty elusive. He has pretty good moves. The thing I like about him most is he’s a complete back. It’s not just about yards and carrying the ball. He’s probably one of our best lead blockers. He catches the ball well and he’s a pretty darn good safety, too.”
A two-way starter for the Tomahawks, Joyner said he is already receiving interest from Washington State, Idaho and Virginia. While he has yet to land a scholarship offer, he expects them to start rolling in soon.
“I look at other people’s numbers, and I look at mine and most of my numbers are better than the people who are already getting offers,” Joyner said.
He has shown so much at an early age, it would be easy for him to become complacent. However, like his first three games as a freshman, he wants each outing to be better than the last.
“Everything I do, I want to be better,” he said.
So, how good could he be? Well, as far as Carson is concerned, that answer can only be answered by Joyner.
“That’s up to him and how hard he works in the weight room, in the classroom,” Carson said. “He has the ability.”