Senior left tackle Ian Theophilus Joseph, an anthropology major from Placer, Calif., is on his way to becoming a medical doctor, but he might take a quick pit-stop in the NFL. From a young age, Joseph was inspired by his mother and had it engraved in his mind that he would one day become a doctor. But as he was growing up, he fell in love with football as well and decided to pursue both of his goals at UC Davis.
After redshirting his freshman season, Joseph has started 45 consecutive games as the Aggies’ left tackle – for every game during that stretch – a feat that few have accomplished. Joseph has been an anchor for the UC Davis offensive line for the last four seasons.
This season, Joseph was part of an offensive line that provided exceptional protection for the backfield. UC Davis only allowed a total of 14 sacks for a loss of 90 yards. This is second in the Big Sky Conference to Portland State’s 10 sacks allowed. Joseph had a big part in this feat, bringing four years of experience that most linemen do not have on their resume.
In addition, in 11 starts this season, Joseph recorded 16 cuts, 18 knockdowns, 3 pancakes and graded out over 90% five times – excellent statistics that the coaches keep track of after reviewing the game film. In football, it is difficult to evaluate linemen without any official statistics, but Joseph’s presence on the field has been anything but quiet. He led an offensive line that allowed sophomore quarterback Ben Scott to throw 19 touchdown in just six starts.
In addition, this offensive line opened up huge gaps for senior running back Gabe Manzanares who earned 831 yards and five touchdown in nine games this season. Manzanares ranked third in the Big Sky with 92.8 yards per game. The offense as a whole earned 1,585 rushing yards with 15 rushing touchdowns and averaged 144 yard per game.
Despite losing a majority of their games, Joseph and the rest of the team stayed motivated and competed hard every Saturday of the season.
“We believed we were a good team. We first started to believe that during the very first play against Montana State….We all hit off the ball, we all hit our guy, and I’m pretty sure that on that first play we had three or four knockdowns,” said Joseph. “We started to build our confidence and play more consistently.”
This season, Joseph was finally recognized by the conference. He earned an All-Big Sky Conference first team consideration, his second Big Sky honor after receiving an honorable mention last season. Joseph, along with the rest of the team, believes that this recognition was long overdue.
“It was a long time coming. I thought I deserved at least second team last year. I really thought it was a long time coming,” restated Joseph. “I didn’t feel entitled, but I did believe that I was the best left tackle in the conference. I still believe that.”
Joseph was also just nominated for the American Football Coaches All-American team, yet another accolade for the outstanding lineman.
Despite leaving behind a program that ended its season with a 2-9 record, Joseph believes that UC Davis is heading in the right direction. The team showed a lot of potential this season and Joseph believes that Aggies football will turn it around.
“Success is coming,” Joseph stated.” We worked harder than any team in the conference, and the only thing that has been holding us back has been us and our mindset. No one can really fix that but us, collectively. It doesn’t just start when the season starts, it starts when the previous season has ended.”
As he leaves behind a struggling program with outstanding potential, Joseph looks forward towards the future and towards his life goal. Joseph has one objective, and that is to become a doctor. Still, he recognizes that he has opportunity to make it to the NFL and accomplish another one of his goals.
“I still don’t know much about the process, I’ve been talked [with] agents here and there,” said Joseph. “I’m still looking into it, but my plan is to just burn the bridge and just go for it. Go 100% and give it all I can. Because I love the game.”
There must be something about the left tackle position at UC Davis that attracts players who have aspiring life goals. Prior to Joseph, Elliot Vallejo held down the left tackle position for the Aggies. He started his college career at UCLA in 2002 and wanted to become an engineer. After starting his career at UCLA he later transferred to UC Davis where he could balance football and earn his engineering degree.
In 2006, when Vallejo finished his college career and earned his Bachelor’s degree in engineering. He was later signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals where he would eventually make an appearance at the Super Bowl. In 2010 he retired from his football career, received his Master’s degree in engineering and is currently a systems engineer in the Northwest.
With a degree from UC Davis soon to be under his belt, Joseph is one step closer to accomplishing his goal and becoming a doctor. He recognizes all the work that he needs to accomplish his goal, while acknowledging the various resources that available to student-athletes. This helped Joseph reach his goals while playing the sport that he loves. First, however, Joseph must first take on a huge challenge and train for the NFL combine. Ian Joseph has left his legacy on the UC Davis program, and is certain that his time as an Aggie has prepared him for the unknown that the future brings.