LB Josh Francis ready for hard work to pay off
Published: Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 22:08
In 2010, West Virginia brought in a highly touted junior college pass rusher in defensive end. This season, a similar player will be joining the team – linebacker Josh Francis.
Much like Irvin, Francis comes to Morgantown after solid seasons in the junior college ranks, where he put up big numbers and became known as one of the best defensive players in the nation. In his career at Lackawanna College (Pa.), Francis compiled 95 tackles and 13 sacks.
As a sophomore last year, he earned first team all-America honors after finishing the season with 49 tackles and seven sacks.
Also like Irvin, Francis has athleticism not many people on this year's WVU team have seen before.
"He has the raw tools to be a great player," said sophomore linebacker Doug Rigg. "Athletically, I've never seen a linebacker like him, and it's great to have him on this defense."
But, while Francis' athletic ability will be something that can help him find the field, that's not good enough for him. If he wants to start and stay on the field for a long time, he knows he'll have to pick up the intricacies of the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 stack defense.
One thing that should help Francis along with that part of things will be the fact he was able to be in Morgantown for spring practice, which gave him the opportunity to work out some things he was going to struggle with when it came to learning the scheme.
"In spring, you just come in, and you're put right in the situation where you've got to learn the defense and you've got high expectations because I'm a junior," Francis said. "But this defense is so complex, and the linebackers are the core of the defense and everything is pretty much ran off of us."
He admits, it was definitely tough to grasp at first, but getting through the tough learning experience that was the spring has made the summer heading into his first camp with the Mountaineers much easier.
"Coming straight into it (in the spring) can be frustrating, but now (in the summertime) it's a lot easier for me, and I feel like it's coming to me faster," Francis said. "I was spinning a little bit in the first couple weeks of summer, but you've got to keep going at it and keep having a lot of repetitions."
Like a lot of other members of the Mountaineer team this summer, Francis has bought into the idea of commitment and sacrifice to the team in the summer months. The workouts they're doing aren't mandatory, neither are any additional hours they've put in to work on their craft. But Francis and his teammates are doing anything it takes to accomplish the lofty goals they all have this season.
"When you go out there on Monday, you've got to sacrifice sleeping in. You've got to sacrifice maybe wanting to do something else other than weight lift," Francis said. "But, if you want to win a championship, you have to sacrifice and be committed."
If Francis is able to learn everything he needs to with the defense, the sky's the limit for what he can do.
"You could be the biggest, strongest guy in the world, but if you don't know what you're doing, then you're going to struggle in this system," Rigg said. "If Josh picks it up, he's going to be a scary player in this defense."