|Every year in recruiting circles the hype is around
blue-chip prep prospects. It often seems that junior college transfers
are considered throw-ins or added bonuses to a recruiting class by a
great many fans. But savvy recruiting coordinators and truly
knowledgeable fans know different. It's no secret that many JCs in a
recruiting class will step right in and make an immediate, positive
impact on offense, defense, or on special teams. The JC Top 101 is a
list of players who we expect to make a splash at the next level.
It is no easy task to rank America's top 101 junior college football prospects because there is so much talent. We could potentially list well over 200 athletes, who will sign 1A letters of intent in either December or February. But through a careful process of evaluations - which began over a year ago - we have come up with a great list.
In 2002, there are outstanding wide receivers, defensive ends, safeties, and defensive tackles. Additionally, there several tremendous running backs one or more of whom could have an impact on their team like former Butler County CC running back Rudi Johnson had with Auburn in 2000. By the way, he was drafted early in the second round of last year's draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Going through the JC Top 101 list you will likely recognize names of kids who were prep All-Americans a couple of years ago but didn't have all the academic pieces to move on. Many, like defensive end Mondre Dickerson (Coffeyville CC) signed with Tennessee but didn't qualify. The same can be said for offensive lineman Brandon Lockheart (Santa Monica College) who signed with Washington -- and many others.
Additionally, there are a large number of bouncebacks, who are kids who signed and played at four-year schools but transferred back to junior colleges.
Not all junior college blue-chippers were of elite status in high school, however. Take offensive tackle Clint Werth (Garden City CC) for example. He was a not-ready-for-prime-time player in high school but was a near 4.0 student and had a great frame and desire to excel. After a two year at GCCC he is an All-American and committed to Colorado. So there are many players at this level who were late bloomers -- and excellent students -- who used JCs to hone their skills and help them earn a scholarship.
You may be curious about a few omissions, too.
This list does not include athletes who have more or less run out of 1A eligibility, which can happen in a number of ways. We call these 'clock' kids and they usually will opt to play D2 for two years versus the one they could have at a 1A school. On occasion you will see a 'clock' kid go 1A, such as wide receiver Chad Johnson who signed with Oregon State out of Santa Monica College in 2000, but it's relatively rare.
Additionally, we have excluded a number of athletes who will not have the academics to play at a 1A school -- according to one or more reliable sources. We hope, of course, that some of the kids in this category will find a way to get 1A eligible prior to fall of 2002. But for now they are not on this list.
The JC Top 101 is full of thoroughbred athletes, who are being recruited by the likes of Tennessee, Washington, Miami, Nebraska, Texas, and other BCS-ranked teams. Here's a position-by-position breakdown of the top talents and what makes them special.
California is home to two of the top junior college quarterbacks in the nation this year. Andy Goodenough (6-4, 210) is a two year starter who has led his Palomar Comets to a 7-1 record so far this season. He ran a 4.65 forty last May at the JCFootball.com SoCal combine and displays excellent accuracy and a strong arm. Through seven games he was 163-248 for 1,961 yards with 19 TDs and 6 INTs. Several D1 schools would like his services, including Iowa.
Playing in the same Mission Conference as Goodenough is Pasadena CC quarterback, Nathan Chandler, who is a bounceback from Texas Tech. At 6-7, 240 pounds, you would think Chandler isn't very mobile, but he has about 200 rushing yards so far. Chandler has thrown for 1,725 yards and 18 TDs for a team that just lost its first contest of the year, too. He has acquired all those yards despite only playing a half in most games. Recruiting attention is coming from Mississippi State (RTH), San Jose State, Iowa, and others.
In addition to athletic ability both Chandler and Goodenough are of great character and possess excellent leadership skills.
At Butte College in northern California there is a running back named Chris Bruhn. After high school Bruhn, who is 6-3, 215, signed with Washington State but failed to qualify. As a freshman last year he backed up All-American Marty Johnson (Utah) but lit the world up every chance he got. This year, despite playing behind a freshman dominated line, Bruhn has been near the top of the state's rushing stats with 135 carries for 783 yards and five TDs through six games. It may take him until summer to get his AA, but that hasn't stopped some good programs from calling. Put Washington State in the mix since they're looking for a JC tailback and signed Bruhn out of high school.
While Brockenbrough is good, it's possible that NW Mississippi's Durrell Robinson (6-2, 200) is even better. Last year he was playing as a freshman at the University of Georgia, so you know he's talented. This season the former prep All-American is arguably the top player in Mississippi junior college football. Ask any coach in the conference to name the top player in the conference and Robinson's name pops out -- quickly. He finished the regular season with 46 catches for 846 yards and ten touchdowns to lead all receivers in the conference.
And our top rated offensive lineman is Santa Monica College tackle, Brandon Lockheart, who signed with the Washington out of Dominguez HS in southern California. He was the real deal two years ago and he's even more real now! The 6-7, 330-pounder made first team All-Conference as a freshman and is up for re-election in 2001. A number of schools are very interested, including Tennessee, Oregon State, Southern Cal, Auburn, and others. Lockheart, who is a spring grad, will probably take his five trips before committing.
Chaffey College (Calif.) lineman Brad Lekkerkerker (6-7, 300) is one of the nation's best lineman and could and would play anywhere in the nation if he didn't have clock problems. He's also an excellent student and will perhaps move on to the NFL after finishing at a D2. Named to the All-Foothill Conference first team after his freshman season.
A couple of other kids to keep an eye on are Dixie State's Scott Young and SW Mississippi's Demarcus Johnson. The latter is 6-4, 285 and can be very dominant. Johnson reportedly has offers from top tier SEC schools such as LSU, Alabama, and Auburn. Meanwhile, out in Utah, pre-season All-American Scott Young, who is 6-5, 305, did not disappoint. We saw him play recently and he is the real deal. At times he bullied a Ricks College offensive line with several 1A caliber players and plays with great emotion. The big man with the mohawk haircut visited Southern Cal (unofficial) last spring and is also considering BYU, South Carolina, and several other prominent colleges. 15.5 sacks on the season and counting.
Monte Parson (pronounced: Mon-tay), who is 6-3, 270, plays for Los Angeles Harbor College. He is literally a man among boys having four years in the Navy after high school (Carson HS) in Los Angeles. Although Parson was somewhat raw last year after the long layoff he still made All-Conference. His head coach attributes the success to Parson's coachability. "Monte looks the part and plays the part. And everything is 'yes sir, no sir'," said his coach. Extremely physical and a master of the weight room. Hasn't missed a session of any kind in two years at LA Harbor. "A coach's dream." Being recruited by Washington, Florida, Nebraska, USC, Oregon State, Texas A&M (offer), Iowa State (offer), Cal (tripped 10/13). December grad (3.6 GPA) with a redshirt year available.
The sophomore class of 2001 is loaded with excellent inside linebackers, so it's particularly hard to pick one as being the best.
Leading the pack, though, are probably SW Mississippi outside linebacker Kelvin Morris and CC of San Francisco inside linebacker Lance Mitchell.
At 6-4, 225, Morris is well suited to play off the edge. "He's good enough to go straight to the NFL," said his head coach recently. And all of the opposing coaches we spoke with cited Morris as one of the league's most dominant players. Morris signed with Clemson out of high school and is all set to go there once he finishes business at SMCC. He's a very gifted athlete, who was also an MLB draftee while in high school.
For pure athleticism at the corner spot it's hard to look past Eastern Arizona cornerback Walter Williams (6-1, 175). Opposing teams rarely throw to his side. He's a two-year starter, who improved dramatically this year in run support. "Incredible breakaway speed (4.4) and he's very elusive," said one coach. Originally from Florida. Getting looks from BYU (offered), Wisconsin, USC, New Mexico, and many others. Should get out in May.
Another 'clock' kid to mention is Glendale (Ariz.) safety, Eric Blackwell (6-1, 210). He was one of the only freshmen to earn All-American honors in 2000 and could repeat this year. Blackwell, who signed with Wyoming out of high school, is a big-hitter and vocal leader of the Glendale defense. Although Oregon State and a few other 1A schools are interested in him for one year, Blackwell will opt for two seasons at a division two school where he can earn a degree.
Breaking Down the Top 101 JC Players
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