Pair of JUCOs On Campus For Officials

In an effort to address some issues on the defensive side of the ball, IU Coach Terry Hoeppner has a pair of junior college players on campus this weekend for official visits. has the story on who they are, including comments from their JUCO coach about what sort of impact they could make.

In an effort to address some issues on the defensive side of the ball, IU Coach Terry Hoeppner has a pair of junior college players on campus this weekend for official visits.

Diablo Valley (Cal.) College teammates Castine Bridges and Namon West are both in Bloomington this weekend, a duo that could provide some immediate help to the IU secondary. The 6-2, 190-pound Bridges is a top-100 junior college cornerback, while West is a 6-1, 195-pound safety who has also played some corner at the junior college level.

The pair are not only junior college teammates, but half-brothers as well. So the possibility of IU offering both could go a long way toward earning Hoeppner's staff commitments from the talented duo.

"I think if a school was to offer a package deal, I think they'd get them both," said Diablo Valley College Coach Ralph Depew.

Bridges has been the player that has drawn the most recruiting interest. In fact, he's already visited Missouri and Utah, and he committed to Missouri in early December. But that commitment appears to be soft at best as Bridges continues to consider other options.

In two years at Diablo Valley, Bridges has 19 interceptions in 20 games, and had another two that were called back due to penalties. This past season he earned first-team All-California CC honors after totaling 10 interceptions in 11 games despite the fact most teams shied away from throwing the ball in his direction.

"He was not thrown at very much this year, and when they did, they paid dearly," said Depew. "He's the real deal."

Not only does Bridges posses 4.53 speed in the 40, but he has the sort of size that allows him to match up one-on-one with big receivers, something that's especially important in the Big Ten with the caliber of wide receiver that most programs have.

"He's a big, physical corner – that's his number one asset," said Depew. "His strength is man-to-man coverage, because that's what we do – we don't play zone."

West, meanwhile, hasn't drawn the same level of interest as his brother, but he's been a productive player at DVC while playing both safety and cornerback, according to Depew.

"He's a real, physical guy, a pretty vicious tackler," said Depew. "He has a lot of cover skills. He's smaller than Castine height-wise, but he probably has him by about 5-10 pounds. Plus, both of those guys can run. In a flat-out foot race, Namon might be a half-step faster."

West is also a unique player in that he's much older than most junior college players. A graduate of Chaderjian high school in Stockton, Cal., West didn't enroll in college until the fall of 2004 and is 25 years old.

"He didn't go to college right out of high school, bouncing around a little bit, and realized that wasn't the way to go," said Depew. "So he got enrolled here last year and has been a pretty good student and has been very exceptional football field."

Depew said that often times players who don't opt for college right out of high school wind up being highly-productive once they do decide that college is the best route to pursue for their future.

"My experience here is that a lot of times our best players are guys like that," said Depew. "When we get a guy like that, we know we're going to get a young man who is just a little bit more mature, even if he's just a year removed, because he's been out and tried to make it, and realized that ‘hey, I need an education,' and certainly football acts as an avenue for a lot of these young men to do that."

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