Joseph lost for season to practice injury: Major hit to WVU defense

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia senior safety Karl Joseph, a fierce-hitting fixture in the Mountaineers secondary for three-plus seasons and the current FBS national leader with five interceptions, suffered a serious knee injury during practice that is expected to end his college career.

A starter in all 42 games since arriving on campus in 2012, Joseph sustained the injury during a noncontact drill Tuesday night, said coach Dana Holgorsen.

“I am devastated and heartbroken for Karl,” Holgorsen said.“He is a young man who has given everything he has to our football program and university over the past four years and who elected to return to WVU for his senior season to earn his degree and to be a part of something special with this team.

“He exemplifies what it means to be a Mountaineer. Karl is an All-American, a fierce competitor, a leader and I know he will have a full recovery, and I can’t wait to watch him on Sundays next fall.”

Joseph’s backup, redshirt junior Jarrod Harper, has appeared in 25 games, emerging as a special-teams standout. Another junior, Jeremy Tyler, has the capability to play several positions and will get a look after pushing Dravon Askew-Henry at free safety during the preseason.

An All-Big 12 selection in 2014, Joseph was making a push for All-American status this season. His improvement in man-coverage situations—an offseason emphasis based on NFL feedback after his junior season—seemed to put him on pace to become the first Mountaineers defensive back drafted since Keith Tandy in 2012.

Presuming the prognosis is correct, Joseph will end his college career with 209 solo tackles, ranking 12th on the school’s all-time list dominated by linebackers.

He made an interception, a sack and two more highlight thumps against Oklahoma on Saturday in what projects to be his final West Virginia game.

MORE: Joseph/Dillon co-No.1s on list of Most Pivotal Mountaineers

“I want to thank my teammates and my coaches for their outpouring of support,” Joseph said in a school release. “This has been difficult for me and my family but I know I will come through this stronger than ever. I will forever be a Mountaineer and will be cheering on our team every step of the way.”

For such a crushing tackler, Joseph’s injury-free run to this point was astonishing—not only starting every game but appearing on 3,388 plays. He produced 284 tackles overall and 16.5 tackles for loss. He made two sacks, nine interceptions and 14 pass breakups, along with forcing eight fumbles and recovering six.

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