February 5, 2011 9:40:00 PM
MABEN -- Josh Poe isn''t chasing his brother''s career.
The similarities between Josh and older sibling, Gabe, tell a different story.
Both players were standouts in football at West Oktibbeha High School.
Gabe, a linebacker at the University of West Alabama, started his career at East Mississippi Community College, where Josh will begin his college career in the fall.
Gabe and Josh both stand 5-foot-9 and have always carried the reputation of being "big hitters."
Versatility is an asset both players possess, which led them to play multiple positions in high school.
Gabe led West Alabama with 97 tackles and two sacks this season as a 205-pound middle linebacker. He''s an example of a player overcoming a lack of ideal measurables. Gabe also laid a path for future Timberwolves to show small-school players they can make it at a four-year level.
The footprints are there for Josh to follow, and Timberwolves coach Adam Lowrey believes it motivated his former star player.
"He''s never mentioned this, but deep down he has a desire to compete against his brother," Lowrey said. "He''s going to outwork everybody because that''s just how he is, but I think he feels he something to prove (because of Gabe)."
Josh said his motivation stems from how well his brother played in his first season at West Alabama. Trying to match what Gabe has accomplished won''t help carve his career, Josh said.
"I always knew I would make it to the next level and play somewhere," Josh said. "Now, it''s about proving to myself I can set my path. Gabe was a great player at EMCC, but I''m trying to do my thing."
Josh, much like he did as a Timberwolf, will play multiple positions to audition for a singular role with the Lions.
He''ll have a redshirt year to make an impression in practice, where he feels his skills will shine as a defensive back.
Josh can use the redshirt year to help a broken ankle heal. He suffered the injury Sept. 3 in a game against East Oktibbeha and missed the rest of the season. He hasn''t starting running full speed, but is lifting and doing rehabilitation.
"Things can feel different from what they are when you have surgery," Josh said. "I''m trying to get it back. I''ve got to be careful."
Once Josh is healthy, he''ll focus on challenging for a special teams role to avoid being redshirted. While he''ll accept the year of training a redshirt has to experience, he wants to be on the field come game day.
Having played wide receiver, running back, and linebacker for Lowrey, Josh should adapt well to being an "athlete" at EMCC.
Josh was The Dispatch Small High School Defensive Player of the Year as a junior after posting 106 tackles, six sacks, and 11 forced fumbles.
Before he broke his ankle in Week 3 this season, Josh recorded 14 tackles, two sacks, and an interception. He had 16 catches for 212 yards and scored five touchdowns. He helped the Timberwolves to a 6-5 record, their first winning mark since 2006.
But not being there down the stretch still eats at him.
The Timberwolves lost their last three games to the top three teams in the district and missed the playoffs.
"I can even go back to Weir, when we lost by a touchdown," Josh said. "We were grinding, everything was back and forth, and all we needed was one stop. I felt like I could have made a difference in that game. That''s a tough feeling to have."
Josh''s broken ankle led to diminished interest from Illinois and Mississippi State. Without an offer from a Football Bowl Subdivision team, he settled on EMCC because it showed the most interest.
He''s ready to repay the Lions'' faith that he''ll fully recover and be the latest Timberwolf to star in Scooba.
"It''s not the top ranked D I, but it''s top ranked in JUCO," Josh said. "It''s exciting to move on and to get the opportunity. I think I have a great set of hands and can play receiver or defensive back. I''m ready to get to work."
1. New Hope boys' basketball falls in Class 5A playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Starkville boys denied return trip to Jackson HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. West Lowndes boys earn third straight trip to Jackson HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS