All-Time California JC Team (Defense)

Asking respected colleagues for their opinion, with input from noted JUCO historian Hank Ives, presents an "All-time Two-year" alumni team from the Golden State. The only requirement is that the honoree participated in a least one junior college game for a team in California. This is the defensive team.



DE Gino Marchetti (6-4, 245)
Modesto Junior College

Antioch HS
San Francisco 49ers
Dallas Cowboys
Baltimoer Colts

Marchetti is an easy choice for this team, as he was chosen as the NFL's top defensive end in the league's first 50 years in 1969.  Three years later he made the Hall of Fame as the game's premier pass-rusher.  Ironically, his parents discouraged him from playing and the first time they saw him play he broke his leg making a key tackle that ended a Giants drive in the most famous pro game of all time, the 1958 overtime championship thriller.

NT Greg Townsend (6-3, 264)
Long Beach City College

Dominguez (Compton) HS
LA / Oakland Raiders

Townsend was a rookie on the last Raiders team to win a Super Bowl during the '83 season as a 4th round pick out of TCU.  His solid career as a pro spanned 190 games during which he recorded 109.5 sacks for the Silver and Black.

DE Chris Mims (6-5, 288)
LA Pierce College / West Los Angeles College

Dorsey (Los Angeles) HS
Tennessee Titans
S Diego Chargers
Washington Redskins
S Diego Chargers

Mims was one of many Dorsey Dons from the late 80's and early 90's who made it all the way to the NFL.  The list includes Sharmon Shah (UCLA), Beno Bryant (Washington), Charles Mincy (Washington), Lamont Warren (Colorado), and Johnson. After stops at two JC's, Mims enjoyed a solid career at Tennessee, where he developed into an All-SEC pick.  Mims has well over 40 sacks in his NFL career and generously helps out at his alma mater in South Los Angeles.


ROV Derrick Rodgers (6-1, 225)
Riverside City College

St. Augustine (New Orleans, Louisiana) HS
Arizona State
Miami Dolphins

Rodgers went to a high school more known for their excellence on the hardwood than the gridiron, but that did not stop him from developing his skills as a pass-rush specialist.  Although Rodgers is smaller than all the linebackers, he excels on the corner and would be useful in either a 3-4 or 4-3 on this team.  Rodgers ventured west where he became a top-notch recruit after two excellent seasons at RCC in '94 and ‘95.  He really blossomed at ASU, helping to end Nebraska's three-year regular season undefeated streak the next year with a relentless pass rush against the highly regarded Cornhusker O-Line.  ASU was one play away (a blown coverage by redshirt freshman DB Courtney Jackson) from winning the national championship that year and Rodgers was a big part of the equation for the Sun Devils.  In ‘97, he became a 3rd round pick of the Dolphins.

LB Rod Martin (6-2, 218)
Los Angeles City College

Hamilton (Los Angeles) HS
Oakland Raiders

Martin attended Hamilton at the same time Moon did and both continued to improve after their prep careers.  Martin was a big play specialist for the Raiders, who stole him as a 12th round pick out of USC in '77.  Martin played his best in big games; including picking off two Ron Jaworski passes in Super Bowl XV as the Raiders defeated the Eagles, 27-10.  Martin's best overall season came three years later as he returned two picks for scores and again the Raiders were world champs.

LB Ken Harvey (6-2, 237)
Laney College

Lanier (Austin, Texas) HS
California Golden Bears
St. Louis Cardinals
Washington Redskins

The Lone Star State native was an '88 first round pick of the Cardinals after a stellar career for the Cal Golden Bears.  He amassed over 90 quarterback sacks during his distinguished career.

LB Frank Manumaluena (6-2, 245)
De Anza College

Banning (Wilmington) HS
San Jose State
Kansas City Chiefs

Manumaluena was the Cal-Hi Sports state player of the year in 1973 for Banning as the Pilots were as dominant a team as there was on the west coast in the 70's and 80's.  Toto'a (his first name) is of Western Samoan descent and he is just one of many Samoan players who have excelled in prep football in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.  Most of those players have gone to either Banning or Carson, and both L.A. City schools have produced a plethora of NFL-type talent.  Manumaluena was a fourth round pick out of San Jose State in '79 and although his NFL career was marginal, he was a dominant linebacker at the other levels of competition, so Toto'a gets the nod.


CB Dave Grayson (5-10, 187)
San Diego City College

Lincoln (San Diego) HS
Dallas Texans
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders

The competition at cornerback was extremely tough, as many ex-California JUCO players picked off between 20-30 passes in their NFL careers.  Grayson gets the nod at one corner, as he amassed nearly 1,000 interception return yards with 5 touchdowns in his career.  His best years were with the Oakland Raiders, as he picked off 18 passes in two years ('68-'69) alone.  He retired after a ten-year career in 1970.  

CB Norm Thompson (6-1, 180)
Laney College

Galileo (San Francisco) HS
St. Louis Cardinals
Baltimore Colts

Thompson attended Galileo during the mid-60's and there was great talent around campus during that time as "A.C." (Al Cowlings) and "O.J." also went to Galileo.  Like Simpson, Thompson went to a two-year school before excelling at a four-year program.  (Cowlings went straight to USC after high school).  Thompson was a first-round pick for the Cardinals in '71 and had 33 picks in his nine-year career.

SS Louis Wright (6-2, 200)
Bakersfield College

Bakersfield HS
San Jose State
Denver Broncos

The big, hard-hitting Wright is the special link between the "Orange Crush" defense of the late 70's and John Elway's first Super Bowl team in 1986.  Like Frank Gifford, Wright roamed the gridiron for both the hometown Drillers and Renegades before becoming the 17th overall pick in the '75 draft out of San Jose State.  In his career, Wright picked off 26 passes and returned two fumbles for scores.

FS Don "Blade" Burroughs (6-4, 190)
Ventura College / Pasadena City College

Fillmore HS
Colorado State
Los Angeles Rams
Philadelphi Eagles

The lanky Burroughs is the quarterback for this unit, and with 50 picks over his ten-year career, it's a safe bet that no receiver would get behind the defense with Burroughs out there.  In his rookie year alone in '55 for the Rams, he picked off nine passes.  In his first year with the Eagles in '60, he intercepted nine more!  


K Tom Dempsey (6-2, 225)
Palomar College

San Dieguito (Encinitas) HS
New Orleans Saints
Philadelphia Eagles
Los Angeles Rams
Houston Oilers
Buffalo Bills

Born with only half a right foot and no right hand, Dempsey made NFL history on November 8th, 1070 when he kicked a 63-yard field goal as time expired for the Saints in their 19-17 victory over the Lions.  It was his fourth goal of the game.  Ray Wersching of Cerritos and Mike Lansford of Pasadena were also considered for the team.

P Mike Horan (5-11, 192)
Fullerton College

Sunny Hills (Fullerton) HS
Long Beach State
Philadelphia Eagles
Denver Broncos
NY Giants
Phoenix Cardinals
Chicago Bears

On over 1000 kicks, Horan has amassed 40,000 yards plus with a booming 42.2 average.  Mike Saxon of Pasadena was also considered for the team.

PR Ollie "The Messiah" Matson (6-2, 220)
City College of San Francisco

Washington (San Francisco) HS
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Rams
Detroit Lions
Philadelphia Eagles

Matson was as great a kick returner as anyone, taking an NFL record six all the way, but he also returned three punts for scores so he gets the nod here.  "The Juice" and the "The Messiah" are easily the greatest runners ever from the San Francisco Bay Area.  This '52 first round pick gained over 5,000 yards rushing in the league and even scored 23 touchdowns on pass catches.  Matson truly had blazing speed, as his greatest athletic achievement was winning a gold (4x400) and bronze (400) medal at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helinski.  He was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1972.

KR Travis "Roadrunner" Williams (6-1, 210)
Contra Costa College

Ellis (Richmond) HS
Arizona State
Green Bay Packers
Los Angeles Rams

Williams was a solid runner and pass receiver, but was truly amazing on kickoff returns.  He had 106 returns in his career, and he returned an NFL record six of them "to the house".  He was a fourth round pick of the Packers in '67 and his rookie year alone he had 4 touchdowns on 18 returns with an incredible 41.1 average.  "The Roadrunner" passed away at the tender age of 45 in 1991.


WR/RB/DB/QB/K Frank Gifford (6-1, 197)
Bakersfield College

NY Giants

Although the competition at the skill positions is fierce, it would be nearly impossible to leave Gifford off this squad.  He is one of the most versatile players in NFL history, renowned for his smooth running, sensational receiving, strong blocking, accurate throwing, superior coverage as a defensive back, and even his ability as a kicker.  "Giff" was a dominant running back at all four levels of ball, even winning NFL MVP honors in 1956. 

A severe head injury on a Chuck Bednaric tackle put Gifford out of action for two years.  When he came back, he became a fine wide out and that is where he would make the most impact on this super team .  In his career, he scored 34 touchdowns on the ground, pulled in 367 receptions for 5,434 yards to go along with another 43 scores and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

WR/DB Haven "Heavenly" Moses (6-2, 208)
Los Angeles Harbor College

Fermin Lasuen (San Pedro) HS
San Diego State
Buffalo Bills
Denver Broncos

Although Moses was a phenomenal JUCO DB, Haven would be a great third receiver on this dream squad in passing situations.  Although the Seahawks have never been a JUCO power, LA Harbor was a competitive squad when "Heavenly" graced the grid-iron as a two-time All-American in '64 and '65.  "Moses was big n' rangy at Harbor and developed into a damn good receiver at San Diego State", Ives stated.

Good enough to become the 9th pick of the entire '68 draft where he made an immediate impact with 42 receptions as a rookie with the Bills.  Later with the Broncos, Moses helped Dever reach their first Super Bowl by catching two touchdowns (including a 74 yarder) from QB Craig Morton in the 1977 AFC Championship game against the Oakland Raiders.  The two-time pro bowl selection finished his distinguished career with 448 receptions for 8,091 yards along with 56 TD receptions.          

PR/KR/TB/P Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (5-11, 175)
Pasadena City College

Muir Tech (Pasadena) HS
Brooklyn Dodgers

Although Robinson did not suit up for an NFL team, the most important athlete of the 20th century deserves special mention on this squad.  He would contribute here as a returner along with the "Messiah" and "Roadrunner", be the back-up punter, and spell the starting backs without any dropoff.  In fact, "Jackie" would be the best overall athlete on this team and is generally considered the best all-around JUCO athlete of all time.  "Jackie obviously played football and baseball at PCC and was all-conference in basketball and did the broad jump in track. Jackie could do everything, he was good at ping-pong, badminton, and even tennis" Ives recalled.

Born in Cairo, Georgia to a family of sharecroppers on January 31st, 1919, Robinson was the first junior college back to exceed 1,000 yards in 1938.  "He had great vision and was spectacular in the broken field.  He was so quick he would make Dante Hall (former Grossmont and current KC Chiefs star) look average", Ives proclaimed.  A typical spring afternoon for Jackie would see him play baseball and run over to the track field and broad jump 25 feet, 6 1/2 inches in the broad jump in full uniform. 

Robinson went on to letter in four sports at UCLA and in 1941 left college to join the U.S. Army where he was honorably discharged in 1944 as a First Lieutenant.  Although he had world class ability as a cager, as a jumper, and on the gridiron, the baseball diamond was where "Jackie" would leave a lasting legacy.  In '45 he played for the legendary Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League and spent '46 in the International league with the Montreal Royals. 

One of the first important events of the ensuing Civil Rights struggle took place on April 15th, 1947 when Robinson broke baseball's color barrier as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  As expected, Jackie made an immediate impact, using the quickness he displayed on the gridiron to become a daring base runner, crowd pleaser and drawing card.  Robinson was the Rookie of the Year in '47, the National League MVP in '49 and stole home 19 times in his illustrious career. 

The former JUCO all-american was the first black player inducted into the baseball hall of fame in '62.  Robinson died on October 24th, 1972 and his gravestone reads, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives".  Jackie Robinson was a trailblazer in JC Football and no doubt impacted the lives and careers of his fellow teammates on this All-Time California JUCO team.  

Honorable Mention (Listed Alphabetically)

Quarterbacks: Steve "The Master" Deberg (Fullerton), Tony Eason (American River), Vince Evans (LACC), Bill Kenney (Saddleback), Eric Kramer (Pierce), Brian Sipe (Grossmont)

Running Backs: "Sweet" Lynn Cain (East LA), Clarence Davis (East LA), MacArthur Lane (Merritt), Paul Lowe (Compton), Leonard "Eight Ball" Russell (Mt. SAC), Tom Watkins (East LA), Gerald Willhite (American River)

Receivers: Stephen "The Touchdown Maker" Baker (West LA), Isaac Bruce (Santa Monica), Anthony Miller (Pasadena), Stephone Page (Saddleback), Webster Slaughter (San Joaquin Delta), David Williams (L.A Harbor)

Tight Ends: Doug Cosbie (DeAnza), Ted Popson (Marin), Ryan Wetnight (Fresno)

Line: Fred Dryer "Magnum P.I." (El Camino), Manny Fernandez (Chabot), Don Sasa (Long Beach), Jeremy Staat (Bakersfield), Marcellus Wiley (West LA)

Linebackers: Jeff Barnes (Chabot), Kasun Charles (Long Beach), Mark Fields (LA Southwest), Larry McGrew (Contra Costa)

Defensive Backs: Mark McMillan (Glendale), Craig "C-New" Newsome (San Bernardino Valley), Brig Owens (Fullerton), Rod Perry Sr. (Fresno), Jason Sehorn (Shasta), Otis "My Man" Smith (Taft), Derrick Stewart (Santa Monica) 

In formulating the team, we considered the strength of the players' performances on all levels (high school, two-year, four year, professional) and graded them equally.  For example, OJ's high school career was not as strong as Leonard Russell's, both of them were outstanding in junior college, but the "The Juice" has a much stronger Division 1 and professional career, so Simpson gets the nod.  Another example is Warren Moon and Erik Kramer.  Both were solid in high school and Kramer was spectacular in junior college, but Moon clearly had more success at the other two levels.

The team reveals some interesting facts.  Although all the players played junior college ball in California, only two (Ken Harvey and Derrick Rodgers) played high school ball outside the state.  This shows the strength of California's prep programs because over the year's many potential junior college players have migrated west to play in California's strong programs.

Although this is just a list of players from one state, the team displays players with Hall-of-Fame potential at every position except linebacker.  If the team was redone in five years, not much would change, as the players selected are truly all time greats.  The talent is just oozing at the running back position as many players with great credentials were left off even the honorable mention list.  Runners like George Jones (Bakersfield), Ruben Droughns (Merced), Ryan Benjamin (Sequoias), Freddie Bradley (Moorpark), Estrus Crayton (Rancho Santiago), Darick Holmes (Pasadena), Saladin McCullough (Pasadena/El Camino), Blaze Bryant (Golden West), Maurice Morris (Fresno), and Damion Shelton (Fresno) failed to make the grade.  This team would be a heavy favorite to win the Super Bowl in any year in any era and compares favorably with other all-time lists of great players.     

See the Offensive Team


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