Don Coryell started it at San Diego State. John McKay followed suit with the USC Trojans. Mike White upset his coaching brethren by recruiting JCs at Illinois and it wasn't long before his Big Ten competition started to pick and choose from the two-year schools.

Even Woody Hayes, before his retirement from Ohio State, was impressed enough to break with tradition.  He reached into the JC ranks for the first time, recruiting RB Ron Springs from Coffeyville (Kans.) JC.  Springs rewarded him with two outstanding years before going on to star with the Dallas Cowboys.

Now every team in the Big Ten with the exception of Penn State gets heavily into the JC recruiting wars since Fullerton's Dave Wilson and Tony Eason (American River) broke Illini and Big Ten passing records under White's tutelage.

"I think people are beginning to better understand the community college athlete," said White after his team had found success with the JC lads.  "They aren't second-class citizens, a bunch of rejects.  Both parties benefit, there's no question."

White was particularly high on Wilson, one of his primary groundbreakers.  "Dave Wilson, who went on to play for the New Orleans Saints, certainly profited financially and otherwise," said White.  "The university profited from his presence, the type of athlete he was and the type of person he was.  He brought respect to our program."

Since the days of Coryell, McKay and White, the market for capable JC players has increased immeasurably.  Proposition 48, the NCAA scholastic reformation, played a large part.

Tougher collegiate entrance requirements and reduced scholarships has been a huge factor in the rebirth of JC athletes.

Colleges are competing now for the JC athletes.  Recruiting Coordinators spend endless hours watching film and traveling around the country chasing down prospects.  Every school in the Pac-10 recruits JCs.  Although Stanford hasn't signed many, they are indeed looking. San Jose State may end up with as many as 20 this year once the dust completely settles.  Oregon State took the high rode to the Fiesta Bowl title in 2000 by thrashing Notre Dame behind a plethora of talented JCs.  Oregon did a number on Colorado in the same game this past holiday season, led by the running of talented Maurice Morris, the most prolific ground-gainer in JC history.

Why the interest in JCs? 

***The JC athletes arrive with 20 to 22 games of college experience under their belts.

***The college coach can pick a JC player that fills his immediate need.  His starting DT has graduated so he recruits that lad with two full seasons of collegiate experience who can step right in and play.

***How many young players come right out of high school and are ready for the collegiate lineup?  Sure a few, but a very low percentage.

***"Junior college gives the athlete the opportunity to gain experience and enhance his skills.  He can grow athletically and gain physical maturity that will help him get a shot at a scholarship, or some financial aid.   Hopefully he will be able to continue playing and gain his degree.

Dick Foster, a longtime, very successful JC coach at Fort Scott and Coffeyville, and later a recruiting coordinator for Oklahoma University, said:  "Every day a kid is on a college campus he's helping himself, making himself a better person.  It's building character.  That's what education is all about.  It gives them a chance to change their behavior patterns."

Foster knows whereof he speaks.  He coached the aforementioned Springs, along with Heisman winner Mike Rozier, and Mel Gray, just to mention a few.

The JC football alumni are loaded with "names" that certainly illustrate the success of many.  Such names as Roger Staubach, O.J. Simpson, Hugh McElhenny, Jackie Robinson, Ron Yary, Ollie Matson, Keyshawn Johnson, Jason Sehorn, Cortez Kennedy, Warren Moon, Freddie Dryer, Haven Moses, Corey Dillon, Walter Jones, John Randle, Frank Gifford are just a few that fostered their talents at junior colleges before moving on to fame in the college and pro ranks.  Isaac Bruce, Greg Robinson-Randall and Antowain Smith, all prominent in this year's Super Bowl, at one time displayed their talents on the JC level.

There have always been good athletes in JC football, but nowadays there are a lot more of them.  Just ask your favorite recruiting coordinator.


2002 JC Recruits

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