For some talented football players, it takes a bit longer to get on the radar than the years of high school ball allot. Prospects often take the Junior College route to get bigger and learn that much more of a college type of atmosphere. Some blossom in that phase and pick up interest from plenty of big-time schools.
That scenario is the case for Devante Bond, who exploded this season for Sierra (Calif.) College. He put in over 70 tackles including over 25 for loss and 17 sacks. While it didn't always translate to wins, the standup-end and outside linebacker hybrid did his part to improve as a sophomore.
"One thing I know I got better at was learning the game," Bond admitted. "I got smarter with the game; I was training more seriously realizing this is what I want to do. My coaches helped me a lot with that."
Colleges have certainly taken notice and it has led to eight scholarship offers in a short time period. Bond, who stands 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, knew he had the chance to play FBS football – but the spike in interest has caused him to take a bit of a step back in recruiting.
"It's getting kind of tough, tougher than I thought decision-wise," he admitted. "The more that comes, the harder the decision. "
"I'm looking into what defensive scheme I want to play for, I got to look at what best fits for me," said Bond. "But it's going to come down to what schools I'm going to visit."
The standout already has official visits lined up to West Virginia (Dec. 1) and Miami (Dec. 7) to this point, so the final three official visits will make up the teams he eventually chooses from. Right now, it's to be determined with new interest from programs like Nebraska and Oklahoma checking in. The Mountaineers have also yet to offer, so it plays a role for Bond – who has three seasons to play two.
"I'm pretty much going to wait until January to take the rest of my visits," he said.
Of course Bond visiting schools is one way to approach it, but schools have also begun visiting him. First up was Fresno State earlier in the week. The Bulldogs sent linebacker coach Nick Toth for an in-home trip.
"We talked about football, but it was mainly the other things," Bond recalled. "How the coaching staff is there, where I'm going to live, eating plans and everything like that. They talked about how much they can use me."
He is familiar with Fresno's program, being out west, but the same cannot be said for that of Syracuse. The Central New York school sent recruiting coordinator Greg Adkins out to meet at Bond's house Wednesday evening.
"They run more of a 4-3, that's their base, but they do a lot with their outside ‘backer," said Bond of the Orange. "They blitz a lot, they drop – they're really dimensional. That's what interests me there, they'd put me on the edge and having me doing a lot from that decision."
Bond admits the scheme would be an adjustment, but his focus with SU turned to more of an academic discussion with Adkins.
"I wanted to talk about academics, and he told me about the business program there," he said. "We talked about the campus, about where I'll live and how it is there – and how much of a difference it is from the West Coast to New York. It's a big move…but I told him it's not really an issue.
"I'll visit there to get a feel, but it's about being comfortable and seeing how the players are (on the visit)."
"I gotta see myself there, especially going so far," Bond continued. "I want to play soon, being a JUCO guy, and there they have a need for linebackers in general. I have to feel comfortable though… "
The school and climate is one thing, but Adkins did his part to make the JUCO target comfortable in person.
"Coach Adkins, I liked him, "said Bond. "He's real relaxed, so we're pretty much the same. We're both really chill…some of the other coaches came more with kind of a speech or a pitch. He pretty much told me how it is and he answered all my questions, it was more casual.
"It was just different."
More programs are sure to stop by the late-bloomer in the coming weeks, and it will all eventually be evaluated in the next few months. The hybrid talent doesn't expect to select a school any time soon.
Said Bond, "I'm going to take my time with it. My decision is going to be closer to signing day in February. I'm going to take all my visits and not rush anything. It's a big decision. "