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Hoping for better life, FAU's Joseph eyes NFL

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Hoping for better life, FAU's Joseph eyes NFL

AP Sports Writer

The way Frantz Joseph sees it, he has no reason to complain about anything.

His mother fled Haiti as a young woman, desperate for a new beginning in the United States. He has amassed a pile of debt despite getting a free college education playing football. And he's not projected to be a big-money, first-round NFL pick.

So why is the Florida Atlantic linebacker smiling?

"You only live life once," he says. "And this is my life."

This is his life: Born in South Florida and raised in an impoverished home, signed to play college football at Boston College, transferred to Florida Atlantic, was part of consecutive bowl wins that shined new light on the Owls' program, set a boatload of school records and now is poised to become FAU's first-ever NFL draft choice.

That's why he smiles. A lot. Almost all the time, really, even when he was lifting weights or sprinting in the hot Boca Raton sun, under the watchful eye of scouts who'll determine if he has a future at the pro level.

"I don't worry about things I can't control," Joseph said. "What I can control is coming out here and doing the best I can."

Over the next few weeks and months, he'll find out if he did enough.

Joseph didn't play in any games for Boston College in 2004, then sat out the 2005 season under NCAA transfer rules. He made 61 tackles for FAU in 2006, then saw his numbers soar the next two seasons.

He led the Owls in tackles in each of the next two years, with 131 in 2007 as FAU won the Sun Belt Conference championship and New Orleans Bowl, then 154 this past season as FAU went on to win the Motor City Bowl. He even was invited to play in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game, earning MVP honors after recovering a fumble and making an interception.

At times, it was like Joseph forgot it was a showcase game, where everyone tends to get along with the guys on the other team.

"Frantz hit the other players hard all that week," said FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger, who led Joseph's team for that All-Star game. "Maybe harder than he should have."

Joseph says that's just his nature.

It's what he did on Friday nights in high school, on Saturdays in college, and what he hopes to do on Sundays in the NFL.

That's why no one who knew Joseph was surprised by what he did this past Dec. 27.

FAU's season ended with the bowl win over Central Michigan on Dec. 26, a game where Joseph led the Owls with 13 tackles.

The very next morning, instead of going to Boca Raton for end-of-season celebrating, he was on a plane destined for Martinsville, N.J., set to begin training at the TEST sports club alongside other NFL hopefuls.

Joseph immediately impressed Brian Martin, the CEO of the club - without doing a single thing on the workout field.

"A lot of kids that we work with are prima donnas. They come in and say, 'What shoes are you giving me? What shirt are you giving me?' That kind of stuff," Martin said. "Frantz actually called me the day before Christmas, said he was coming out the day after the game, and asked if we needed help setting up because he knew we had 32 guys coming in. He's an amazing kid. So appreciative of everything."

It's all part of Joseph's upbringing.

His mother, Marie Clercius, had five children, him being the youngest. She came to the United States nearly 40 years ago, still speaks English with an extremely thick accent, yet counts herself as one of the lucky ones. She worked as a cleaner for years, and now rents a table space for $15 at a three-times-a-week swap meet, reselling items she bought at secondhand shops.

"Just trying to make a dollar, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays," Joseph said.

To help make ends meet, Joseph took out a slew of student loans when he was in college. As a kid, he would ask churches for help. He'd go into older women's homes, help them with various chores, hoping for some pocket change. He knew people who turned to a life of crime - but he resisted following that path.

"I'm very proud of my son," Clercius said in a phone interview.

The majority of mock drafts on the Internet suggest Joseph - at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds - will likely get taken somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds. A few have him going earlier, a few later, a few not at all.

Joseph says as long as he gets into a training camp, he'll be fine. Martin, his trainer at TEST, feels the same way.

"I've watched a lot of film, spent time with a lot of guys," Martin said. "I don't know where he'll get drafted, but I think he's a Pro Bowl guy someday. I think he's the next Ray Lewis. He's an incredible, fierce hitter. A lot of passion. I don't say that lightly."

Deep down, that fierce hitter is just a momma's boy.

He plays the game for his mother, still trying to give her the better life that she fled Haiti for a lifetime ago.

"That's why I'm out here, having fun, smiling," Joseph said. "But it's different when I go home. I know what my mother doesn't have. Time is running out. I haven't had my father since I was 3 years old. I had to take a stand at being the man. I have to get it done. So give me a chance. Put a running back in front of me and see what happens."

He pauses. He smiles, again.

"Like I said, that's my life," Joseph said.

Source:  The Miami Herald

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Re: Hoping for better life, FAU's Joseph eyes NFL

WOW he is just a class act i hope everything goes great for him. You can not ask for a better player/person to represent your program
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Re: Hoping for better life, FAU's Joseph eyes NFL

Frantz is going to be a success whether he plays in the NFL or not....that being said, I really want the Dolphins to get this guy because it will be hard to root against him if he ends up a Pat, Jet, or Bill.
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Re: Hoping for better life, FAU's Joseph eyes NFL

He is a class act and he will be drafted and people will be talking about him as one of the surprises of the 2009 draft.

Reminds me a bit of Brandon Jacobs. He was at Auburn then transferred to Southern Illinois and was picked up I believe in the 3rd round and is now a monster. He is also very articulate and just a great guy all around. Just like Frantz.


You can run kitties, but you can't hide!!!
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Re: Hoping for better life, FAU's Joseph eyes NFL

I wish nothing but the best for Frantz. Just an overall great guy. I hope he makes it to the NFL and one day gets a multi million dollar contract so he can help his mother out.

Good luck in the draft Frantz, We are all behind you 100%

My two favorite teams are FAU, and who ever is beating FIU!
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Re: Hoping for better life, FAU's Joseph eyes NFL

What happen to the story ESPN was suppose to do on him?
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