| Rockford Register Star
Josh Black announced last month that he would return for one more season in an effort to finish up his Syracuse football career on a high note.
This week he sat down as the guest on the weekly sports podcast “Not Just a Game” to explain why. The three biggest reasons for his decision were 1] To develop his football skills more; 2] To further his education for free; and 3] Because he still has business to take care of at Syracuse.
Football and education
“It was one of those decisions that I thought about a lot,” Black said. The podcast “Not Just a Game” featuring Black as the guest will be released at rrstar.com Thursday night. “But by the time the end of the season happened, I figured out this was a no-brainer for me to come back next season. One, I get to develop my football skills more. Personally, I don’t feel like I’m quite as developed as I want to be before I pursue the next level.
“Two, you can’t beat free education. That’s a whole another year of education, and just off those two things it was a no-brainer for me.
“I didn’t want to go 20 years in the future and look back on this situation and say ‘Man, I should have taken that extra year of schooling, not only to make myself better at football, but to become a better student.”
When Syracuse put a wrap on the season with a 1-10 record, that was even more motivation for Black to return.
The NCAA granted leniency for fall athletes, giving them an additional year of eligibility after the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic this past year.
Black, a 6-foot-3, 282-pound red-shirt senior this past season, turned 24 on Christmas Day, and he hasn’t hidden that his dream is to play in the NFL. He admitted he wasn’t sure whether he would try and make a run at the NFL or return to college football until late in the season. He has been looked at as a late-round draft pick by many scouts over the past year, but he is hoping to improve that reputation.
He has freakish athletic ability, which was once again highlighted on Twitter when he posted a video of himself doing a backflip off a wall, which almost went viral with over 300,000 views.
“That was two months into quarantine,” Black said of the backflip Tweet. “After that whole backflip scenario, I’ve figured out a lot more about my body… During quarantine, I said ‘Let’s see what barriers I can break.’
“I really want to do a double-backflip off the wall someday.”
Business to still take care of
Black is a four-year contributor on the Syracuse defensive line, and he finished the 2020 season with 38 tackles, two sacks and an interception. It was his first year in the 3-3-5 defense. Now he’ll get one more.
In his career, Black has 120 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks. But with the team hauling in just one victory this past season, he felt like it was his “duty” to come back.
“Ending on that 1-10 note just didn’t sit right with me,” he said. “I really need to end on a winning note to kind of complete my career here at Syracuse… I feel like it’s my duty to help them out.”
There was a report from The Athletic back in early December that said Black was thinking about entering the transfer portal with hopes of finishing up his college career at Indiana. Black’s older brother Ben is a graduate assistant coach on the Hoosiers’ football team.
But Black refuted that report in a statement a day later on Twitter, and then did it again Monday.
“I see where they were going with that, but I’ve had no intentions of going to Indiana,” Black said. “It would be awesome to play with my brother. We’ve always been four years apart, so we’ve never technically been on the same sports team. But we’ve always had that dream to play on the same team.”
But the only chance for that to happen now is at the next level, and it’s still at least a year away as Black will finish up his college career at Syracuse .
Go to rrstar.com or OmnyStudio for the complete podcast conversation with Black on Thursday night.
Jay Taft: email@example.com; @JayTaft