Q & A with UCLA's Chris Joseph

December, 4, 2008
12/04/08
9:43
AM ET

Lost in some of the attention about Myron Rolle winning a Rhodes Scholarship last month was another guy who had started three years at a major college football program and also earned the prestigious honor. UCLA's Chris Joseph played two seasons at offensive guard before moving to center for his senior season in 2007. Turns out, he had a pretty stressful day, too, when he waited for the big news. Joseph, who has a 3.95 grade-point average while majoring in geography with a focus on the complex social and scientific causes of deforestation, actually had interviewed in his region in San Francisco (Region 16) at 8:45 a.m. and had to wait. And wait. And wait. It wasn't reassuring for the former lineman to watch other candidates get called back for second interviews over the course of the day on Nov. 22, but then at 9:30 p.m. that same day, Joseph got the news. He, too, had won the Rhodes. I did a little Q-and-A with him this week:

Feldman: When did you first set getting the Rhodes as a goal?

Joseph: I was first made aware of it by professor Don Morrison of the UCLA Anderson School of Business. He encouraged me to pursue it for the better part of two years, but I didn't actually commit myself to the process until after I had finished playing football and graduated in June of 2008. I figured that I might as well try if I had even the faintest shot at getting it. So during the summer I did some research but only really began working full tilt on it from the beginning of August all the way up until the due date in early October.

Feldman: In what way has playing major college football helped you as a student?

Joseph: It has made me disciplined, especially in terms of managing my time and energy and applying them where and when it is needed and will be most beneficial to me. It's also kept me very focused and regimented, because while I was playing and also taking a full academic workload, there was little time for anything else, and also, one tends to breed success in the other. A focus and drive in either field creates success, so I was basically trying to do the same thing whether it was directed to football or school.

Feldman: What is the most mentally challenging aspect of being an offensive lineman?

Joseph: Reading defenses, and knowing the tendencies of teams you face, as well as what they are capable of doing scheme-wise. A lot of that has to do with film study and understanding defensive structures, but that doesn't make it any easier. O-lineman have to essentially try and deconstruct the defense in their own heads before every play, then make it happen physically four seconds later.

Feldman: Do you see yourself as a role model to other football players and your teammates?

Joseph: That would be up to them. I see myself as a friend to people I played with or coached who could help them out in certain situations, but I don't think that anything I have done is necessarily better than anything my teammates have done or more successful; it is just in the press now. Achievement shouldn't be measured by publicity.

Feldman: Where did your love for geography come from and how will an Oxford education help you in that field?

Joseph: I grew up in a rural place so I always liked being outdoors. After a while, I came to take it for granted because it was always available to me. Then, when I went to UCLA, I realized how much I missed it. Don't get me wrong -- I love Los Angeles, but it isn't like it is an untouched natural landscape. That realization thankfully coincided with a time in my school career when I was taking an introductory geography course, so that opened up a corridor to get back to some of that nature that I was missing.

The opportunity to study geography at Oxford is going to be extremely beneficial because it is one of the best geographic institutions in the world, and it is surrounded by other institutions of higher learning that also place a large emphasis on the importance of geography. The popularity of the subject in the U.K., the quality of the university and its faculty, and the surrounding academic environment will all make for a great experience, geography-wise.

RANDOM STUFF

• Jamar Hornsby, the safety who made news earlier this year for allegedly using a credit card issued to a University of Florida student who died in an October 2007 motorcycle accident, might be headed back to the SEC.

Hornsby, who was subsequently booted from the program by Florida coach Urban Meyer and has resurfaced at East Mississippi JC, is going to visiting Ole Miss again this weekend, sources say. Hornsby already has been to Oxford before this season and apparently has developed a good connection with Houston Nutt's staff.

• Tajh Boyd may be a coveted QB, but apparently not by new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, according to Dave Johnson of the dailypress.com. Boyd, considered the nation's No. 8 QB prospect, had been offered a scholarship by Kiffin's predecessor, Phillip Fulmer.

Tim Boyd, Tajh's father, said: "Basically, he [Kiffin] just feels that Tajh is not suited for their style of offense. He's looking for more of a pocket quarterback like they've had at USC, like Matt Leinart or [Mark] Sanchez. They don't want a dual-threat quarterback like Tajh, so he'll be looking elsewhere. [Kiffin] said he would honor the scholarship if he still wanted to come, but he didn't want Tajh coming there and then being unhappy. It's not like he pulled the offer. He said he wants what's in Tajh's best interest."

Boyd's recruitment has been quite a ride. He originally committed to West Virginia on March 15 but rescinded that commitment seven months later. He has already taken two of his five official visits (Tennessee and WVU). The father added that Ohio State and Oregon have called.

• Texas Tech may be dragging its feet trying to woo Mike Leach, but some Tech fans aren't. They've created this clever Keep Leach site.

"How can you help? Tens of thousands of students have graduated from our alma mater and many more fans of the school and its athletics program are out there. What then could we accomplish by each donating $20, $50, or $100? As our coach is likely being enticed by various Universities with deep pockets, this campaign could well be what is necessary to continue the football success we have been fortunate to experience in the recent past. KeepLeach.com implores you to help keep a national football power in Lubbock. We have just about reached the Promised Land. Let us keep Texas Tech football Coach Leach. He is the man who has led us there, and he will be the Coach who sets up permanent residence."

• Former Tennessee D-coordinator John Chavis is slated to interview for the DC vacancy at Clemson Thursday, reports Paul Strelow.

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