This defensive lineman is out to dismantle the pocket on every snap, at times needing two opponents to guard him. Arizona State junior Joseph “Jojo” Wicker brings energy and athleticism to the Sun Devils defense.
This season, Wicker is on the Ted Hendricks and the Bronko Negurski award watchlists. After starting in 22 games, Wicker has contributed immensely to Sun Devil football. Last season was tough for Arizona State, who had a 5-7 overall record and a 2-7 conference record. Wicker noticed that the defense has to have “a better synergy” for them to have success.
“People really scored on us,” he said. “Miscommunication every time.”
Despite the hard season, Wicker made 39 tackles and two sacks for 13 yards for his sophomore campaign.
Arizona State will clash against the New Mexico State Aggies, the San Diego State Aztecs, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders before heading into Pac-12 conference play. The junior lineman believes that the Sun Devils will have an improved result from last year.
“It’s exciting to see Kalen Ballage, Demario [Richard], all the receivers we have,” Wicker said. “I believe that we’ll do big things this year. We’re just looking to have fun with it.”
In order for the Sun Devils to have competitive results, Wicker knows that teammates will have to hold each other accountable and encourage each other to stay in top shape.
“Us leaders, we have to take control of the team and make sure everybody’s not doing crazy stuff; you know, staying up late because when you’re staying up late, you’re not focused,” he said. “We got to make sure everybody is doing the right thing.”
Wicker started in his first college football game as a freshmen, when Arizona State played against USC. During that game, he made two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. At the end of his freshmen campaign, Wicker had four sacks for 36 yards, 13 unassisted tackles, and 7.5 tackles for loss.
Growing up, Wicker was inspired by the late USC star Joe McKnight.
“I remember, I was like 10 [or] 11, I went to USC camp and we stayed overnight there,” Wicker said. “That’s the biggest player I remember at [USC], just watching him play.”
Wicker is a native of Long Beach and attended Long Beach Poly High School, where he was considered one of the top 100 overall prospects in the nation by Scout.com. As a senior, he earned 112 solo tackles and 17.5 sacks in 12 games.
A memorable moment for Wicker was during the 2014 playoffs when the Jackrabbits defeated the Servite Friars.
“Travis Waller, he goes to Oregon now; and he was throwing these quick slants and they were getting open a lot, like every third down,” Wicker said. “It was the last play of the game, it was like do or die … and he threw it up and I batted it down and like everybody went crazy.”