Healthy with a sense of ‘urgency,’ Austin Joyner ready to step into Huskies’ secondary

The former Marysville-Pilchuck High School star — he was The Seattle Times’ 2014 state player of the year — says he’s more focused, more confident now.

Pain and patience defined Austin Joyner’s first two seasons at Washington.

As a true freshman in 2015, Joyner tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while covering the opening kickoff in the Huskies’ first home game of the season.

His knee healed, he was a little-used reserve defensive back as a redshirt freshman in 2016, playing mostly on special teams while biding his time behind one of the nation’s top secondaries.

Sept. 1

Season opener, UW @ Rutgers, 5 p.m., FS1

Joyner came into his third fall camp with the Huskies this month determined to put past frustrations behind him.

“This is the best I’ve ever been as far as my mentality,” he said. “My health is up there with the best I’ve ever been. I’m in the best condition of my life, so you throw that in the mix and I’ve got a pretty good shot out here. I’ve been making plays and I’m going to try keep making plays day in and day out.”

At the deepest, most competitive position on the roster, Joyner is tied for the team lead — in a crowded field — with four interceptions through the first 12 practices of camp.

The former Marysville-Pilchuck High School star running back — he was The Seattle Times’ 2014 state player of the year after rushing for 1,768 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior — says he’s more focused, more confident now.

“All football focused. That’s been the biggest thing — not having my mind elsewhere,” he said. “Focusing on being here, being here now. … Our defense is very complicated, so it takes a lot of mental focus and physical exertion. So I’m here both mentally and physically.”

Coaches have noticed.

“I definitely see an urgency from him,” co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said, adding: “I can really see the maturity level has increased with him.”

Said Chris Petersen: “Austin’s doing a nice job. He’s one of those guys that shows up every day. I think what everybody really sees is how hard a guy works. I think that’s what you see in Austin. He’s not perfect by any stretch: He just competes and works so hard that he makes up for things that he’s still improving on the front part of his game.”

Joyner, 5 feet 10 and 182 pounds, made his mark all over on special teams last season, playing on both…

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