From the outside looking in it was easy to see Head Coach Bill Snyder targeted safeties for this…
JC signees by the numbers
Below are a few of the top players at each position, where they signed and how they will fit in with their new team…
1) Santa Rosa QB Adam Froman (Louisville) – He signed with Louisville after a standout sophomore season at Santa Rosa. He completed 278 of 449 passes for 3,842 yards and 40 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions and earned NorCal Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors while leading the Bear Cubs to a 7-3 record. He'll challenge for time right away with the graduation of Hunter Cantwell and little experience left on the Cardinals' roster at the all important signal-caller position.
2) Phoenix QB Robert Benjamin (Wyoming) – Benjamin inked his name with Wyoming to run new head coach Dave Christensen's wide-open attack and he's the perfect fit to lead the Cowboy offense. He's a great athlete who can run and throw well. He completed 169 of 311 passes for 2,126 yards and 21 touchdowns with only five interceptions and he also ran for 447 yards and three more scores as well. He could end up being one of the top JC signings this year.
Others JUCO QB signings of note: Monterey Peninsula's Brian Reader (Idaho); Mendocino's Jacob Laudenslayer (Marshall); Fullerton's Jeff Fleming (New Mexico State); Blinn's Terrance Cain (Utah); Snow's Jon Eastman (Colorado State); Georgia Military's Dallas Walker (Western Michigan).
1) Butte RB Alex Green (Hawaii) – Hawaii got a good one when Green decided to forgo his offer from Liberty University to take a trip to visit the islands and committed on his visit. In two seasons with the Roadrunners, Green amassed over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns while helping lead Butte to the JC Gridwire National Championship with an 11-1 record. Hawaii doesn't run the ball much, but getting a guy like Green in their system could certainly make the coaches change some of their play-calling.
2) Pasadena RB Josh Morgan (Kentucky) – The gifted back had an offer from Kentucky very early and after flirting with a couple of other schools, Morgan finally decided to become a Wildcat. This season for Pasadena, Morgan used his solid 5-10, 210 pound frame and 4.4 speed to post over 1.100 yards and eight touchdowns while helping to lead his team to a 7-4 record. While Kentucky has some talented backs already on their roster, don't be surprised if Morgan comes in and becomes and integral part of the attack.
3) Eastern Arizona RB Michael Smith (Utah State) – While the diminutive back didn't get a lot of attention during the season, Utah State stepped up late and gave him the opportunity to play ball at the D-1 level. The speedy back posted 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns as the main threat on the Gila Monster's offense. He'll be given every chance to start for his new team.
Other JUCO RB signings of note: College of the Sequoias' Giavanni Ruffin (East Carolina); Laney's Troy Evans (Marshall); Sierra's Lamon Muldrow (San Jose State); Palomar's Leilyon Myers (UTEP).
1) College of the Canyons WR Hayo Carpenter (Minnesota) – The gifted wideout was the top rated JC player this year and he signed with Minnesota over offers from several other BCS programs. The thing about Carpenter is, he's a great punt and kick returner as well as a deadly receiving threat. The Golden Gophers have solid possession receivers like Eric Decker and Jack Simmons coming back, but Carpenter's speed and open field running is what will get him on the field quickly.
2) College of the Sequoias WR Jamar Howard (Cincinnati) – After flirting with schools from across the country, Howard eventually signed with the school he originally signed with out of high school – Cincinnati. The Bear Cats will use Howard in a number of ways and with his size – 6-2, 215 – he will be a load for any corner trying to cover him.
3) Garden City WR Cameron Kenny (Oklahoma) – A gifted wideout like Kenny rarely makes it long without getting snatched up and Kenny had offers from several top BCS programs but ultimately he knew where he wanted to go and he committed to Oklahoma shortly after his official visit. With the Sooners losing four of their top five receivers, playing time is there for the taking. He should give QB Sam Bradford a nice option early in the season.
4) L.A. Harbor WR Chris Matthews (Kentucky) – The Wildcats got a huge commitment when Matthews chose them over schools like Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona and Utah among others. Matthews is a huge target, measuring in at 6-5, 210 and he has soft hands, hauling in 80 balls for 1,235 yards and 11 touchdowns while earning All-Conference and All-Region honors. He'll be yet another target for talented QB Mike Hartline in 2009.
5) East Mississippi WR Leon Berry (Mississippi State) – The talented 6-0, 185 pounder signed with the Bulldogs in December so he'll be on campus for spring ball and that will only help him in his quest to earn playing time this fall. Berry is silky-smooth both in and out of his breaks and he hauled in 39 receptions for 661 yards ad five touchdowns this past season for East Mississippi.
Other JUCO WR signings of note: Reedley's Darius Reynolds (Iowa State); Butte's Josh Bellamy (Iowa State); Compton's Markish Jones (California); Fort Scott's Brandon Kinnie (Nebraska); Butler's Edgard Theliar (Florida International); Golden West's Lavasier Tuinei (Oregon); Mesa's Terrance Moore (West Virginia); Ventura's Tim Pope (Marshall).
1) Blinn TE Prizell Brown (North Carolina) – The talented tight end is a huge target at 6-4, 260, but he runs so well he can split out wide and run routes like a receiver. He'll fit right into the Tar Heels' system and he could earn a starting spot quickly if things fall into place.
2) Allan Hancock TE Dorson Boyce (Washington) – The Huskies have needed a solid blocking tight end for some time and that is Boyce's specialty. He is a devastating down-blocker, but he possesses enough athleticism to be a threat in the medium-range passing game as well. Boyce will challenge true sophomore Kavario Middleton for playing time, but at the very least he will be used in two-tight end sets.
Other JUCO TE signings of note: East Mississippi's David Rue (Southern Miss); Fresno's Ronny Torres (New Mexico State); Mississippi Gulf Coast's Kevin Helms (South Alabama).
1) Navarro OG Anthon Morgan (Oklahoma State) – The Cowboys needed a player that could come in and push for playing time and Morgan will be a player that the players already on the Cowboys' roster will need to be looking over their shoulders at. He's big, going 6-4, 335, and he is surprisingly athletic for his size. He'll be a mauler that Oklahoma State can run behind effectively.
2) Coffeyville OT James Carpenter (Alabama) – It's amazing that a school with the prestige of Alabama would need to go after a JC offensive lineman, but with the loss of Andre Smith, the Crimson Tide needed an upper-classman to at least push the younger tackles in camp. Carpenter has quick feet and outstanding athleticism. He's not the same type of talent that Smith was, but he'll be solid at one of the tackle positions.
3) Lackawanna OT Jeff Vinson (Oklahoma) – This is what sets Oklahoma apart from some of the other top programs out there. They see a need and they go out and get the best player, JC or otherwise, to plug into the hole. In this case it's the hole left by the graduation of Phil Loadholt, another junior college player. Vinson is an outstanding athlete and a huge man, measuring in at 6-6, 345 pounds.
Other JUCO OL signings of note: College of the Canyons' Joe Evinger (Louisville); College of the Canyons' Shawn Johnson (UCLA); NE Oklahoma's Logan Clair (Mississippi); Saddleback's Brett Leonard (Hawaii); El Camino's Daniel Mafoe (Washington); Pearl River's Tyler Graves (Troy); Mt. San Antonio's Eddie Williams (UCLA); Georgia Military's Rokevious Watkins (South Carolina); Co-Lin's Abre Leggins (UCF).
1) Fort Scott DE Jason Pierre-Paul (South Florida) – The Bulls got probably the most gifted defensive end in the country when Pierre-Paul decided to ink his name with them. He's an outstanding pass-rusher, able to post 24 sacks over the past two seasons as JUCO. He will come in and be the third defensive end for the Bulls behind their talented duo of sackmasters – George Selvie and Craig Marshall.
2) Butte DE Brandon Rankin (Washington State) – The Cougars were woeful on defense last season so getting a player with the ability to rush the quarterback like Rankin can was huge. Now the question is, when will he arrive? According to WSU head coach Paul Wulff Rankin will delay his enrollment until January of 2010, using his redshirt season to qualify academically and then he'll have two years to play two once he arrives. Whatever the risk, signing a player like Rankin, who amassed 24 sacks in 2008 alone, was well worth it.
3) Phoenix DE Tevita Finau (West Virginia) – Finau is a player who has the ability to play either defensive end position, but he's at his best on the strongside able to hold the point of attack while also generating a good pass-rush from that side as well. The Mountaineers lost two defensive ends to graduation so Finau will be counted on to start immediately.
4) Orange Coast DE Dean Deleone (Arizona State) – When you talk about athletic defensive ends, Deleone fits that bill to a tee. He's strong and he's got good size (6-3, 255), but even more impressive is his athleticism. Deleone's forty time is clocked at a 4.7, but he plays faster than that, demonstrated when he returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown this past fall. He'll most likely be in the defensive end rotation for the Sun Devils this fall, but he's good enough to start right away if needed.
Other JUCO DE signings of note: Butler's Zac Clark (Oregon); Santa Ana's B.J. Bell (UNLV); Itawamba's Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State); L.A. Harbor's DeQuin Evans (Kentucky); Snow's James Aiono (Utah); Cerritos' Ryan Davis (California); Santa Rosa's Donnie Pritchett (Fresno State); Coffeyville's Rae Sykes (Tennessee); Bakersfield's Quintin Woods (Kansas).
1) El Camino DT Justin Thompson (Memphis) – OK, let's try this again. Last year, Thompson was wanted by almost every school in America, but eventually he signed with Oregon. However, he was unable to qualify and after sitting out this past fall he eventually got himself eligible and he's now ready to play for the Tigers. Thompson has the ability to play professionally, but he needs to focus more. If he does, you could be looking at a future Pro Bowler.
2) Mt. San Antonio DT Hebron Fangupo (USC) – It seems weird to think that the Trojans would ever need to go the JC-route, but when you have a player sitting in your back yard with the talent of Fangupo you make sure he ends up with you. Fangupo is a player that can play sideline-to-sideline with his speed and tenacity. He ran a 4.8 forty at the JCFootball.com combine last spring so the athleticism is clearly there.
3) CCSF DT Edwin Herbert (Florida) – Herbert flashed on the scene this year big-time for the always loaded CCSF squad. He's a run-stuffer who has enough quickness to get some penetration on passing downs as well. He'll team inside with what the Gators already have to form a very nice rotation of talented tackles.
4) Sacramento DT Akiem Hicks (LSU) – Like USC and Florida, it's amazing that a program such as LSU needs to go the JC route, but you can never have enough great defensive lineman and Hicks is definitely that. He runs well and is huge. He also has a long frame – 6-6. 295 – and long arms to disrupt quick passes.
5) Reedley DT Terrance Montgomery (Oregon) – The Ducks have had trouble signing defensive tackles so this year they went out and signed two, plus three high schoolers as well. The one who I expect to see the most time early on will be Montgomery who combines outstanding athleticism with a tenacity only someone who has been in the military for two years can muster. He should see time right away in Oregon's system and be a two-year starter if he stays healthy.
Other JUCO DT signings of note: Golden West's Andrew Iupati (Oregon); Cerritos' Johnny Tivao (Washington); Compton's Branden Warner (UCLA); East Mississippi's Leslie Stirrups (South Florida); Co-Lin's Nick Fairley (Auburn); Phoenix's Peni Fiu'angaihetau (Louisville); San Mateo's David Hafoka (Hawaii); New Mexico Military's Nathan Mageo (North Carolina State).
1) Sierra OLB Bryson Littlejohn (Oregon) – The Ducks scored a big one when they reeled Littlejohn in. He's a physical linebacker with the ability to play either weakside or strongside linebacker. He can run and cover if necessary, but he's at his best pursing the ballcarrrier and making plays behind the line of scrimmage. As a sophomore in 2008, Littlejohn had an outstanding season posting 72 tackles, nine sacks, three forced fumbles, three interceptions and 14.5 tackles-for-loss while earning First Team Gridwire All-American honors.
2) CCSF MLB Josh Tatum (Missouri) – Tatum was a man-child in high school and he had his choice of schools where he wanted to go, ultimately deciding to play for USC. However a torn knee caused him to re-evaluate things and after looking at several other schools, he chose to head to Columbia, Mo. to play for the Tigers. Tatum is a physical linebacker who can make plays from almost anywhere now that his knee has fully recovered. Expect him to see plenty of time for the Tigers on defense this fall.
3) Blinn OLB Jarred Price (California) – The skilled sack artist posted an amazing 29.5 sacks the past two years for the Buccaneers at 5-10, 215 pounds. He was manly used as a defensive end, but he'll likely end up as a stand-up pass rusher in Cal's new 3-4 scheme. Expect Price to push for time the moment he steps on campus.
4) Mississippi Gulf Coast MLB Chris White (Mississippi State) – White was one of the first linebacker prospects to get an offer and commit and he will fit in nicely with the Bulldogs. He posted 117 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, three interceptions and a forced fumble as a sophomore in 2008.
Other JUCO LB signings of note: Mississippi Gulf Coast's Eltoro Freeman (Auburn); San Jose's Jerome Meadows (California); College of the Sequoias' Aaron Gress (Illinois); Coffeyville's Derek Slaughter (UAB); Hutchinson's Chaz Green (Southern Miss); El Camino's Reuben Willis (Utah State); Fort Scott's Jacquian Williams (South Florida); Garden City's Kadero Terrell (Kansas State); Arizona Western's Korey Toomer (Idaho); College of Dupage's Justin Hickman.
1) Mississippi Gulf Coast CB Demond Washington (Auburn) – New Tigers head coach Gene Chizik came in and right away hit the JC ranks to fill holes in Auburn's roster and Washington was the top JC corner available this year. He isn't very big (5-10, 185), but he has tremendous top end speed and he never backs down from a challenge. As a sophomore in 2008, Washington notched 48 tackles and three interceptions, all of which he returned for touchdowns.
2) Fort Scott CB Coryell Judie (Texas A&M) – The Aggies needed help in the secondary and they will get it right away with the addition of the physical Judie who plays bigger than his size (6-0, 185). Judie totaled 38 tackles and one interception in 2008 and the plan is for him to come in to College Station and challenge for playing time right away, but he'll have plenty of competition from players like Trent Hunter, Jordan Pugh and Justin McQueen.
3) Butler CB Rudell Crim (Arkansas) – Arkansas needed someone to come in and fill in after the graduation of Jamar Love and the inconsistent play of some of the younger Razorback corners. Crim is big and very physical and he besides the outstanding receivers he saw every week in the KJCCC, he also faced off against top receivers every day in practice as well. As a sophomore in 2008, Crim posted 38 tackles and three interceptions, one of which he took back for a score.
4) CCSF CB Dejon Gomes (Nebraska) – Gomes is already on campus in Lincoln, Ne. and he'll be in the mix for playing time right away. Last year Gomes was handed the duties of shutting down the top receiver on each of CCSF's opponents and he managed to do that, posting 39 tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 14 passes defensed. Gomes has good height and he breaks on the ball really well. He will fit in nicely with Bo Pellini's aggressive defensive scheme.
Other JUCO CB signings of note: Mt. San Antonio's Dominique Gaisie (Washington); Fullerton's Lee Aguire (BYU); Arizona Western's Marcus Benjamin (Arizona); Santa Rosa's Brandon Driver (San Jose State); Georgia Military's Taikwon Paige (Auburn); Cerritos' LeQuan Lewis (Arizona State); Los Medanos' Kevin Williams (South Florida); Santa Rosa's Diamond Weaver (Akron); Arizona Western's Deonte Ball (Akron); CCSF's Devin Mays (Houston).
1) College of the Sequoias S Anthony Leon (Arkansas) – "Juice" as he's known to his teammates originally committed to Oregon, but after visiting Little Rock he knew he wanted to be a Razorback and he'll fit in nicely there. Leon is like a linebacker with his size (6-3, 230), but he's fast and he can play in space really well. Because of his size he will remind a lot of people of USC All-American Taylor Mays, but he isn't quite as physical. Still, he will be a huge boost to the talent in the Razorback secondary.
2) Hutchinson S Jasper Simmons (Missouri) – The Blue Dragons always produce talented players and Simmons is no exception. He doesn't paint an imposing figure out on the field, but when a receiver comes into his area, he lets you know it will be a long day by the way he hits and how physical he is. Simmons finished second on the Hutchinson defense with 86 tackles and he'll be counted on by the Missouri coaching staff to come in and produce those same results quickly as well.
3) El Camino S David Batts (Washington) – He's listed as a corner, but Batts will play safety for the Huskies. Batts committed to Kansas State after his official visit there, but Washington got him the final weekend of January and convinced him to switch things up. Batts sat out 2008 while rehabbing a shoulder injury, so when he arrives in Seattle he will have three years to play three and he'll challenge for playing time the moment he steps on campus.
4) Trinity Valley S Malcolm Williams (TCU) – Williams plays more physical than his size (5-11, 205) would indicate. He has the same style as current Indianapolis Colts S Bob Sanders, but he might be a tad faster. Williams had 46 tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles and five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, in 2008.
Other JUCO S signings of note: Saddleback's Aaron Brown (Hawaii); Co-Lin's Andrew McGee (Oklahoma State); Glendale's Winston Venable (Boise State); East Mississippi's Jamar Hornsby (Mississippi); Kilgore's Tremaine McKenzie (Memphis); Antelope Valley's Troy Butler (Kansas State); Palomar's Arthur Render (Tulsa); Coffeyville's Jacky Candy (Houston); Blinn's Byron Landor (Baylor); Jones' Elliot McGaskin (UAB); CCSF's Jarrell Harrison (Missouri); College of the Sequoias' Andru Stewart (Arkansas).
1) Mt. San Antonio's Jacob Harfman (USC) – The Trojans have struggled some at the kicker position the past few years and Harfman is just the man to come in and be a consistent scoring threat for them once they get on the other side of the field. He is also an outstanding kickoff specialist who drives the ball deep and gets the necessary hangtime. Harfman could have gone almost anywhere in the country, but he chose USC so he could stay closer to home.
2) Itawamba P Heath Hutchins (Mississippi State) – When you talk about punters helping to win the field-position battle, Hutchins fits that definition perfectly. He regularly gets five-plus second hangtimes and he's also able to drop kicks deftly inside the 20. The Bulldogs have a real need at punter and Hutchins immediately upgrades the struggles they've had at the position the past few years.
Other JUCO K/P signings of note: Fort Scott P Derek Helton (LSU); Bakersfield P William Mahan (Washington); Mississippi Gulf Coast K Sean Brauchle (Mississippi State); Orange Coast K Ryan Casano (Toledo); College of the Canyons K Ricky Drake (Nevada).
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