Johnson City Press Article


Johnson City Press

Ex-Hilltopper Joslin enjoying modeling career
• NOV 25, 2014 AT 4:34 PM
Justice Joslin was a blur on the football field, but life outside the lines quickly came into focus.The former speedy Science Hill receiver/center fielder has spent the past two years getting to see the world by letting the world see him. After compiling a relatively productive career as a receiver in Wofford coach Mike Ayers’ methodical ground attack and a gratifying season catching nearly 2,000 yards worth of passes professionally in Germany, Joslin scored a modeling gig that’s had him continent hopping the past two years.

Timberland, Nautica and Armani are among many using Joslin’s square jaw, washboard abs and hairy chest to push their products.

Joslin, 26, went to California to join his musician brother Jeff and catch some waves shortly after his football career concluded with a brief stint in Spokane, Washington in 2012, and living in Redondo Beach produced the right exposure.

“I was surfing, living a different life than I’d lived for a decade,” Justice said. “My father (Jeff) introduced us to a commercial agency – my brother and I … and we landed a commercial, both of us, within 10 or 15 auditions. Actually, a modeling gig was the first thing I did. It was fun, we liked it and it paid. So we thought, ‘Well, maybe we should give this a shot.’”

Justice connected with a photographer named Al David, who’s since become his manager, and two years have passed like one of Joslin’s 4.35 40-yard dashes.

“Being 24 years old at the time, it was not something that was super easy,” Joslin said. “A lot of these guys have been doing it since they were, like, 15, 16, 17, and the guys my age are already developed in the industry. So to just jump a new guy in there at 24 … can be difficult.

“Luckily, Al knew what he was doing, and it took about a month probably to convince myself that that was a possible career choice. Like, ‘Okay, am I going to do this? Am I going to start modeling? What is this world I know nothing about?’ … I said, ‘Alright, I’ll walk through it and see where it takes me. It’s kind of how I’ve always done. If there’s opportunity, I’ll run with it.”

The whirlwind has included perhaps as many as 100 plane flights. Among too many locales to mention, Joslin has worked in Chile, France, Barbados, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, England, Poland, Italy, Madagascar, Montreal and Germany.

He did a shoot in the Andes Mountains while on a visit to Santiago, Chile.

Former Science Hill basketball player Nick Crowder was playing professionally in England last year when he ran in to Joslin – more or less.

“I was in an airport in London,” Crowder said, “and he was on some big Nautica ad and I took a picture of him and sent it to him and said, ‘It’s kind of sickening that I can’t even walk through the London airport without seeing your face.’ There it was, basically a whole life-sized cutout of Justice Joslin. … He’s an international superstar.”

Joslin said he’s remained close with Crowder, who was frequently needling Joslin while in Europe, texting him pictures when he’d spot an ad with Joslin.

Joslin, who was born in Nashville and moved to Johnson City prior to starting third grade at Tri-Cities Christian, was in former Science Hill teammate Anthony Barcel’s wedding in Charleston, S.C. on Oct. 11.

Others from the Johnson City area he’s maintained contact with include Barcel’s brother, John, Quentin Basset, Michael Forney, Brandon Shoun, Danny Killian, former Science Hill coach John Bowles and his son, Brad.

Joslin’s favorite football memory at Science Hill happened his sophomore season. After starting at defensive back against Elizabethton, he said he debuted late in the game at receiver. His brother Jeff was the senior quarterback, and Justice said they drove nearly the length of the field for a game-winning field goal.

“We get to a fourth down and, like, 14 situation and one of the coaches put me in the game at receiver,” Joslin said. “I get in there and Jeff’s like, ‘Dude, I’m throwing you the ball.’ I was like, ‘Okay, it’s raining. … If I drop this ball we lose.’ So I go about 20 yards, turn around, catch it and get a first down. “And the next play is called in and Jeff looks at me and says, ‘I’m throwing it to you again.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s fine.’ It felt like we were in the backyard again. And he threw like a 30-some-yard pass and I catch it and we end up kicking a field goal and winning. So it was an experience – the first varsity game, the brother connection.”

Joslin caught 30 passes for 633 yards and nine TDs during the regular season of his senior year at Science Hill, and caught two TD passes and ran a reverse for another score in the Hilltoppers’ opening-round playoff loss at Oak Ridge. He had 223 yards receiving in one game, a Big East Conference record, and scored four TDs in a win against Tennessee High in 2004.

Joslin played for former East Tennessee State head coach Mike Ayers at Wofford, where he was listed as the fastest player on the team. Ayers’ triple-option offense isn’t ideal for a receiver wanting to catch passes, but Joslin is thankful for the experience that included snapping two-time defending national champion Appalachian State’s 17-game wins streak and a couple of hard-fought losses to South Carolina.

“What they do is they’ll train you to be leaders and they’ll train you to be teammates,” Joslin said. “That’s one thing we can do that, like, South Carolina and a lot of the big schools envied about Wofford players – that we play for the guy next to us. There’s no showboating. It’s just solid, solid technical football.”

Playing for a man’s man such as the intense Ayers doesn’t exactly seem like a path to the catwalk.

“I haven’t been back there actually since I’ve been doing this full time,” Joslin said. “So I can only imagine what Coach Ayers would have to say. He would definitely have some funny things to say.”

Joslin said he occasionally got complaints early on that he was too broad or had a football neck. So instead of lifting weights, he’s now opting for push-ups, pull-ups, swimming and running on the beach.

He’s become quite popular in cyberspace, though his No. 1 fan still checks him out in old-school fashion. Joslin said his grandmother purchases magazines to show off at Bible studies and often cuts out pictures of him to mail to him.

“I’ve heard (my look) is ‘All-American guy,’” he said. “But the pictures you see, they’re all kind of tampered with and all fixed up to look a certain way. From the clothes they put on you to the styling to makeup – they know what markets they’re selling to. I just adapt, I guess.”

Adapting to life after football was easier than Joslin anticipated. The productive season catching passes in Germany after blocking defensive backs in college helped bring closure, though it seemed like it was the beginning of something special at the time.

Joslin said he was rusty, fumbling and dropping passes the first few games in Germany, and probably even in jeopardy of being benched or released when he found his stride and had a four-touchdown game.

“I ended up scoring, like, 25 (TDs) and we went, like, 14- or 13-0 and I led the country in touchdowns, receiving yards,” he said. “I ended up having close to 2,000 receiving yards and we win the German Bowl and have a perfect season. This small town in Germany had never done that before and no one had done that in like 20-plus years in this league.“Yeah, it was a little fairy-tale moment. My last game I played I won the German Bowl. I kind of went out on top, I guess.”

Joslin initially planned to play with the Vienna Vikings the following season. But right before the season, he told the team he was going to focus on the NFL Combine instead.He said he got a score of 9.4 at a regional combine, where the events included 40-yard dashes, shuttle runs and bench-presses. He said he was told any score of nine or above should generate interest, and his agent was subsequently talking to 5-6 teams.

“I was just wanting a chance in a (NFL) camp,” Joslin said. “That didn’t happen.”

There was some interest from Canada. He planned to play Arena League in Spokane, but bailed almost immediately.

“I was doing auditions the week before going to Spokane,” he said.

By then, it seems, Joslin had become more passionate about the surfing lifestyle than a football lifestyle that seemed to be punctuated perfectly in Germany.

“I had about 85 catches and about 18 or 1,900 yards in Germany,” he said. “In college, I had 16 catches and four touchdowns. So I kind of got it out of my system. I feel good about how things went down. But if I didn’t play after Wofford, you know, I would’ve thought, ‘I would’ve loved to go somewhere major where they throw the ball a little bit more (in college).’ “But I don’t have any regrets about the kind of people I played with and the type of person I am because of the coaches, the players, the type of work ethic everybody has (at Wofford). You leave with that kind of ingrained into your mind. I’ve seen how I actually portray that to the real world and it’s helped me do a lot of things.”

Joslin was a quality center fielder that hit approximately .360 with 15 career home runs at Science Hill. He made a catch in the postseason at Farragut that wowed the educated Farragut fans with the type of speed that also made it look like he had the infielders right where he wanted them during a protracted rundown in a district tournament at David Crockett.He credited assistant baseball coach Josh Carter with improving his outfielding skills.

Oddly enough – Joslin still doesn’t know how it happened – a man recently mistook him for another former Science Hill center fielder/football player while doing a shoot on the beach in Barbados.

“I was shooting on the beach or whatever, and this family’s eating dinner up to my left,” he said. “I noticed them kind of looking. … It just always peaks people’s interest when people are shooting photos. … So they’re watching, looking around and he’s like, ‘Come over here and put your arm around my wife and look at the camera.’ I was like, ‘Alright, that sounds odd, but I’ll do it.’”They seemed especially excited about it, Joslin thought, and soon the man said something that didn’t immediately register.“I’m shooting again and all the sudden the guy’s looking at me and says, ‘Hey, tell me about the first pitch with Toronto,’” Joslin said. “And I didn’t understand him completely at first and I just looked at him like, ‘I’m not sure what you’re talking about and I’m not sure if I heard you correctly’ … and I thought about it and I thought, ‘I think he just asked me if I remember that first pitch for Toronto. I think he thinks I’m Daniel Norris,’ because I was wearing baseball stuff, too.“So I texted Daniel and I’m like, ‘Somebody just asked me if I remember that pitch with Toronto. Am I you right now?’ And then I looked at some pictures of Daniel … and we kind of do look alike, to be honest.”

With curly hair, a beard and similar stature, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Joslin does resemble Norris, who was hoping to go surfing with Joslin in Nicaragua last week. It didn’t work out, but he said he hopes to visit with Joslin soon — and that they get mistaken for one another fairly often.In fact, Patagonia is interested in Norris.Joslin noted they share many similar interests, including Volkswagen buses, good guitar music, a deep affection for Science Hill assistant coach Benny Tolley (granted, Tolley’s list is long) and playing center field.

“Daniel said I should try baseball again,” Joslin said with a chuckle.But Joslin’s certain to stay in surf mode – riding whatever wave’s before him. And the next one could be acting.

“I’ve been pretty patient on holding back and getting into that industry and preparing myself for it,” Joslin said, “because it is a whole ’nother world and a whole ’nother step up from what I’m doing now.”

He’s taking classes in Hollywood and watching a lot of Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Cary Grant.

“If another door opens up, I’ll go do that,” Joslin said. “I’ll be the first to tell you I’m extremely lucky, extremely blessed to be in such a position. So I definitely want to ride this train as long as it’s going. …“It’s about as surreal as I would’ve thought life could’ve turned out to be.”

Life-changing developments, Joslin will tell you, can happen in a flash.