Brandon Joiner, top left, a former Palo Alto Middle School student and senior football player at Arkansas State University, speaks to students from Palo Alto Tuesday in Killeen.
Matthew Widacki, principal at Palo Alto Middle School, hugs Brandon Joiner, a former Palo Alto student and football player at Arkansas State University, during a visit to the school Tuesday in Killeen.

By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald

Students at Palo Alto Middle School didn’t get the whole story, but they got Brandon Joiner’s message.

Just days after playing in a college football bowl game and hours before spending six days in jail, Joiner, 22, a former Palo Alto and Shoemaker High School student-athlete, spoke to hundreds of boys at his former middle school.

“This week has been full of just excitement,” said Joiner. “Coming up here to Palo Alto, speaking to these kids, that was the highlight of the whole trip.”

Joiner’s message to the students Tuesday stressed the importance of striving to make good grades and accepting ownership of their actions.

“(Spending time in jail), that’s a low part, but at the same time, it’s one of those things you have to do — face up to your consequences that come with the actions that you did in the past,” he said.

Joiner was in Mobile, Ala., Sunday, playing defensive end for the Arkansas State University Red Wolves in their Bowl loss to Northern Illinois. Later Tuesday night, Joiner turned himself in to Brazos County Jail to serve a six-day stint as part of a plea agreement for a 2007 crime.

Joiner was arrested and charged in late 2007 with two counts of felony robbery and two misdemeanor drug charges in College Station. While attending Texas A&M University on a football scholarship, he was reportedly charged with robbing a known drug dealer with a then-Texas A&M teammate. Both were later kicked off the team and lost their scholarships.

Joiner received 10 years probation and 60 days in jail for one of the robbery charges. He could face three years in prison for the second charge after he graduates from Arkansas State University in May with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

“The person that I thought he was, came to surface and he’s taken on responsibilities for his actions and what they caused and he’s moving forward,” said Palo Alto basketball coach Ronald Foster of Joiner’s character following his arrest. “That’s absolutely why we have him (here) today talking to our guys. He’s a younger man that they will listen to, so I knew all along that he had that potential.”

While Joiner was in middle school, Foster cut him from the seventh-grade basketball team for not working hard enough and for expecting to make the team without putting forth any effort. After hearing Foster’s explanation, Joiner went home and immediately started working toward the next season.

“I was quick to point the fingers and blame everything on my teachers, but the truth is just that I was looking for handouts,” Joiner said. “There’s no such thing as a handout, there’s no such thing as a free lunch and everything you want in life, you have to work for.”