The Wolfpacker

Sept./Oct. 2021

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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32 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY JUSTIN H. WILLIAMS efore graduate defensive end Daniel Joseph began terroriz- ing backfields on the gridiron, he was a force to reckon with on the basketball court. Prior to attending Lake For- est (Ill.) Academy, where he originally re- ceived a scholarship to play for the high school's basketball team, Joseph had never played football. The son of first-generation Nigerian im- migrants was born and raised in Canada. Growing up, he was hardly familiar with the sport that would later become his focus. His older brother, Faith Ekakitie, was the first in his family to make the transition to the United States. Like Daniel, Faith went to Lake Forest Academy with the inten- tion to play basketball. Upon his arrival, he was recruited to join the football team and quickly became one of the program's best players. Ekakitie received several Power Five offers and ultimately committed to Iowa, which set the stage for Joseph to follow suit when he came to the United States for high school. "I had never even taken a snap in foot- ball a day in my life before at that point," Joseph said. "Freshman year at Lake Forest Academy, they asked me to play football in the fall since the basketball team didn't start until the winter. "It did my brother pretty well, so I fig- ured why not?" His first season was just a matter of learning the game, but he began to find the field regularly as a sophomore, which is when Power Five schools started showing interest. Joseph went on to become the No. 27 strongside defensive end in the 2016 class according to and earned more than a dozen Power Five offers, including one from NC State. The three-star prospect signed with Penn State, but there was still a significant learn- ing curve once he arrived on campus. "In terms of me truly understanding football and the inner workings of it, that didn't come until my sophomore year in college," Joseph said. "My true freshman year at Penn State, I was hurt, so I was on the sideline the whole time pretty much. It wasn't until my redshirt sophomore year when I started to play and get reps during practice where I kind of understood, 'OK, this is how the inner workings of football really are.' "In high school, I had a very small team. We would just go out there and grind it out. There was one point in time when we had nine guys on my high school team that le- gitimately understood and knew football." Joseph became an active member of the Nittany Lions' defensive line rotation from 2017-19. In those three seasons, he appeared in 32 contests and produced 29 tackles, including 5.5 for loss and five sacks with a forced fumble. After earning his degree in labor and employment from Penn State, Joseph de- cided to transfer in January 2020. The 6-3, 265-pounder attracted interest from several programs and eventually narrowed his list to two schools: NC State and James Madi- son. His visit with Wolfpack defensive co- ordinator Tony Gibson and defensive line coach Charley Wiles went well, but he then went on a tour of JMU and was on the verge of joining the Dukes. But just like when he first came to the United States for high school, things didn't go as planned. B Never Satisfied Graduate Defensive End Daniel Joseph Was Selected Fourth In The 2021 CFL Draft, But Has Bigger Plans In Mind

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