Getting Warmed Up for Football

Kudos to Monterey Peninsula (Calif.) head coach, Mike Rasmussen, whose 2004 Lobos offered the best turnaround among the nation's JCs and ninth best overall (all levels). In 2003, MPC suffered through a 1-9 campaign, but last year bounced back to 10-1 and won the Coast Conference title.

What a shame that Compton College seems to be going down the tubes. While it may be a year before the hammer falls all together on the Tarter athletic program, and school in general, many of the athletes are already heading for greener fields. Compton is steeped in football lore featuring such greats as Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry, and Tay Brown. The Tarters were the most followed JC in California back in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. They played in four Junior Rose Bowl Games, winning three, including the first one, 19-0 over Kilgore. Their 1957 tiff with Jones County of Mississippi drew an all-time record JC crowed of 57,123 and the four games totaled 187,910 fans. Hope it's not too late to right the Compton ship.

USC's might Trojans keep on looking to improve their chances of a three-peat by signing some JCs late. LA Harbor's Mike Bolio, a JC Grid-Wire All-American as a return specialist, but multi-talented as a receiver too, appears headed toward the Figueroa campus. Bolio may wind up playing another year at Harbor, but only time will tell. Fullerton's DT Gabe Long has been hitting t he books and hopefully will be ready to start practicing with the Trojans in August. He too earned All-American first-team honors. Another late commitment was Grossmont DB Mozique McCurtis, a big, physical cornerback (6-1, 228) who should have three years of eligibility remaining.

On the professional scene, Reuben Droughns, Merced (Calif.), is wanting a new contract since being traded from Denver to Cleveland, but our guess is that he will be ready to go in the fall and will win the RB battle with Lee Suggs. Javon Walker, Jones County, is really coming into his own as one of the NFL's top wide receivers, is talking holdout with Green Bay. Hope he listens to Brett Favre, who does not believe in renegotiated contracts.

Kelvin Hayden, former All-American WR at Joliet (Ill.), was the 2nd draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts as a cornerback, the position he played at Illinois. This fine athlete could be a rookie starter. DT Tim Bowens, ex-Itawamba (Miss.), is retiring from pro ball with the Dolphins after 11 seasons. DT Michael Myers, Hinds (Miss.), has moved over from Cleveland to the Broncos and another former Hinds Eagle, CB Fred Smoot, will do his DB work this year in Minnesota after leaving the Redskins. Yet another former Hinds star, Zach Crockett, is still numero uno at fullback for the Raiders. DE Alvin McKinley, Holmes (Miss.), should be a starter this year for the Browns. He's a bull-rusher with a non-stop motor.

If you haven't done so already, head for the newsstand and pick up the Street and Smith college football preview magazine. Turn to page 168 for the JC report. This is the only slick magazine that gives some ink to the two-year guys. They pick Canyons (Calif.) to lead the national pack and go so far as to pick a pre-season All-America team. That's tough duty when you have to have copy in to the editors as early as April.

With Iowa and Illinois joining forces this year in football, that figures to make their conference winner a pretty tough cookie. Both conferences are short of teams, but put them together and the survivor should be looking at an upgrade in the bowl game picture.

John Eliasik, head man at William Rainey Harper (Ill.), called to ask when Ken Swearingen was going to retire. Our conversation went something like this:

"When is that Swearingen guy going to retire?"

Answer: "He's already done it once, who knows?"

"I thought I might be catching him long about this year."

Answer: "You'll probably had to wait because that son-of-a-gun has a habit of winning wherever he is."

Swearingen is the all-time winningest JC coach with 255 victories carved at El Camino, Saddleback, and now College of the Desert (Calif.). Eliasik has spent 34 years as head man at William Rainey Harper, winning 242 times. Hey, Good luck to both of them.

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