Joplin overcomes past to bleed brown, orange at Bowling Green

9/14/2012
BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green's Shaun Joplin catches a pass in front of Idaho's Gary Walker, left, and Thaad Thompson (5) on Sept. 8 at Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green.
Bowling Green's Shaun Joplin catches a pass in front of Idaho's Gary Walker, left, and Thaad Thompson (5) on Sept. 8 at Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green.

BOWLING GREEN -- Shaun Joplin was asked what color clothes his father would be wearing for Saturday's Battle of I-75.

"I'm assuming he's going to be wearing blue," Joplin said. "That's Springfield [High School's] colors, and that's the school he's at. So I'll just have to deal with it."

Joplin's answer drew laughs, as it should. In most cases, you would expect father would match son, and Shaun will be wearing the white with orange and brown trim of a Bowling Green State University uniform.

But this isn't "most cases." Shaun's father is Stan Joplin, whose time as a basketball player and coach at the University of Toledo earned him a spot in the hall of fame of the school whose colors are midnight blue and gold.

"[Attending] Toledo was in the picture for me -- at first," Shaun Joplin said. "But I wasn't planning on playing football at first.

"Once dad left [Toledo], I picked Bowling Green because they seemed to be the school that was most interested in me."

Shaun Joplin came to BG after a standout career at Southview High School, where he earned first team All-Ohio honors after helping lead the Cougars to a 15-0 record and the Division II state title in 2008.

But the road to playing time has been rugged for the 6-foot-2, 197-pound junior, who redshirted his first season on campus and played in just two games in 2010, catching an 11-yard pass against Kent State. Last season Joplin caught 21 passes for 292 yards.

"Shaun Joplin is a talent who is still is learning how to play the game," BG coach Dave Clawson said. "He makes those types of [big] plays in practice, but it's a matter of getting him to carry that into games."

Joplin finished third on the team in catches last season despite playing behind All-Mid-American Conference receiver Kamar Jorden. With the graduation of Jorden and six other senior receivers, the burden of replacing them falls in part on Joplin's shoulders.

"He plays the position that Kamar Jorden played, and Freddie Barnes played, so the standard at that position is very high," Clawson said. "He took a good step forward with his play [against Idaho]."

Joplin had four catches for 30 yards in the opener at Florida, but also had several drops -- including a crucial play where a pass went off his hands directly to a Gator defender for an interception.

"I had to come back stronger because I had a few drops [at Florida]," Joplin admitted. "I kept my composure, and I had a better game."

Joplin admitted that it was tough to bounce back mentally after the rough start against the Gators.

"I was letting it get to my head," he said. "But I had a better week of practices and then showed it in the game."

Joplin quickly set a better tone against Idaho. On the first play of BG's second drive he caught a 42-yard deep strike from Matt Schilz to set up the Falcons' first TD.

"It was one-on-one coverage with the cornerback on the post," Joplin explained. "Schilz threw it, and we connected.

"I think it helped me out to not have to think about what happened last week. And it got the team excited."

Joplin said Schilz, his roommate, told him to "stay positive" after the Florida contest.

"He's a great player, and I know he's going to make plays for us," Schilz said. "He had a couple of drops, but I have all the trust in the world in him.

"I know he's going to be one of our best players, and I knew he was going to bounce back. I'm going to keep throwing him the ball, and I know he's going to keep making plays."

Joplin finished with seven catches for 117 yards against the Vandals, both team highs. That gives him 11 receptions for 147 yards.

But those are just numbers, and Joplin has been involved in this rivalry long enough to know the numbers don't always matter.

"I've been around [this rivalry] since I've been a little kid," he said. "We don't like them, and we plan on beating them."