January JUCOS, potential rises for early arrivals

With the first day of junior college signing day now officially over, Husker fans now have four new members to the team that are considered by many if not all, to be instant contributors for next year. That, of course, has been said of many junior college athletes that have come through the halls of the University, but the averages are just not that good. Will the extra time these players have be the difference?

Since 1980, 32 junior college athletes have come into Lincoln and out of those 32, 20 lettered. Not bad when you consider the law of averages when it comes to recruiting high school kids, but when you take a look at the major contributors, the list dwindles considerably.


It's not to say that a good number didn't contribute in at least a decent respect, because they did. Names like Brian Carpenter, Kenny Wilhite, Bruce Pickens, Ernie Beler, Kareem Moss, while none winning a Heisman like fellow junior college transfer, Mike Rozier or being remembered for their dominance like Terrell Farley, all lettered at least two years, most of those mentioned lettering three.


Fans want impact, though, and not the type of impact that makes you look in hindsight, using words like "serviceable" to describe their benefit to the team. Playmakers and lots of them. That's the perception of what a junior college player should be if a team is willing to take them at all.


Defensive Tackle, Barry Cryer comes in at almost 285 pounds, standing over 6'3" and his coach says of his greatest asset, that it's his tenacity at studying film. Almost four hours a day Cryer pours over video of the opposition to come and even those they just faced. For him, you can never learn enough. "There's a reason those guys that make it in the pros watch so much film." Cryer said. "You have to do that and as much as you can to give yourself any edge you can get. It's only smart to know your opponent as good as you can."


Dontrell Moore is someone that knows his opponents, but his opponents know him as well. Take another commit from the junior college ranks, quarterback, Zac Taylor. He said that Moore wasn't someone that he particularly liked to face. "He was always a problem for us." Taylor said. "He was big, fast and just gave us a lot of problems."


Those problems will be what everyone, coaches included will expect of Moore, but possibly more of  his opposite, linebacker, Steve Octavien.


Much was said and made of the fact that with the loss of Demorrio Williams and T.J. Hollowell, the NU linebacking core just wasn't quick or fast enough to keep up. Unfortunately, that bared itself out to be more true than not throughout the season.


With Moore and Octavien, you have instant-burners, Octavien even running the anchor leg for his 4 X 100 team last year that won the national title. One slight difference here is, though, is that both are over 220 lbs., something the slippery but slight Demorrio Williams couldn't say, the now Atlanta Falcon usually ranging around 215 or less.


That doesn't make either a huge presence at the line in "nickel" situations, but if you can take Williams' speed and put it in an even bigger package, you have yourself a winner.


And, Nebraska got two.


Zac Taylor would be considered the odd man, only because nobody expected someone at his position to be here other than Countryside's Harrison Beck. Because of obvious issues with their current crop of QBs, the coaching staff went out and got another.


Taylor's offensive player of the year award for the Jayhawk Conference is an illustrious honor indeed as the Jayhawk conference is widely considered as one of if not the best junior college conference in existence.


The fact that Taylor is over 6'2" and weighs around 215 lbs. isn't hurting anyone's feelings as well.


What you have in each is potential and because they are from the junior college ranks, it's considered even slightly more than that of the preps going to NU. Perhaps exponentially more if you are one that is inclined to believe the hype.


Either way, Nebraska did what most do when they go after the players stuck between high school and major collegiate football, they addressed depth and inexperience.


The depth at D-line is obvious and even Cryer won't cure that. While starters, Le Kevin Smith and Titus Adams return, behind them is an oft-injured Brandon Teamer and a position that has basically been open for the taking.


Cryer is expected to take that spot at the very least, but the hope will be that with the liberal rotation that NU has utilized on its interior defensive front, he'll fit in and excel.


The linebacker position is up for gabs and honestly, in bad need of not just depth, but starting talent. There are a myriad of players that could be seen as viable for the positions on the outsides, but nobody that has the up-side in speed and sheer playmaking ability as either Moore or Octavien.


You can't say enough for what Demorrio Williams was able to add not just in being a pass-rush threat and a leader. It's the hope that either Moore or Octavien or even both can carry that torch vacated now over a year ago.


Speed is a must for this position and without these two, Nebraska simply doesn't have it.


For Zac Taylor, there are some that have probably bit their tongues a little on slotting Harrison Beck into the starting spot, opting to add the more experienced player first. Better to let Beck redshirt and come out a four-year starter possibly than to risk ruining the kid for good.


Taylor's addition is also a glaring admission from the staff that they don't have any confidence in the group they have now and it's a pretty large group. Jordan Adams, Joe Dailey, Beau Davis, Joe Ganz, Mike Stuntz, all scholarship QBs, all apparently not enough to keep the coaching staff from hurriedly going after another from the junior college ranks.


It's not just fans expecting that Taylor will start. It's pretty obvious that the coaching staff does as well.


The fact that these players can arrive in January simply can't be understated in its value. In fact, I have come to see that unless the player is a phenom like NU commit, Zack Bowman certainly is, they aren't worth waiting for until May.


The structure for a junior college athlete, post-season is not good, in some cases horrible. They don't work out, their diets aren't closely monitored and as you have seen with players like Darren DeLone, Cornealius Thomas and even players like Marque McCray, they don't come in ready to physically handle a season.


In January, they are not even two months removed from their final season in junior college ball. They haven't even been out of school for more than a few weeks and as a University, you are getting that player as close to game-shape as they will ever be, at least until arriving on site.


That just means that the expectations are that much higher. It means that their expected impact is to be that much quicker and come the Spring Game, most everyone is penciling them in as significant contributors to the scrimmage.


That's fine and with the defensive players, I would say that's probably not unrealistic. With Taylor, though, you are going to have the typical growing pains that come with this ultra-complicated offensive attack.


The great thing for everyone is, instead of waiting for these guys to arrive in May, they will already be halfway through their off-season conditioning. They will have playbooks in hand, players to work with on campus and coaches that will get them in the best shape of their lives.


THEN, all those expectations that you have of these junior college players, well, they still might not pan out, but these four players coming in have a significant better shot of making an impact right away.


It's what you expect from the general consensus of the purpose a junior college player should serve. This year for the Huskers, it might actually work out.


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