One of the best in the JC ranks this fall is Saddleback C Damian Shankle (6-2, 310).
Shankle isn't just talented – he's also tough as nails.
"Last year (2005) I tore my hamstring during summer workouts," Shankle told JCFootball.com recently. "I taped it up all year and played with it. The only time it really hurt bad was when we would have to get out on screens and really run down the field. Other than that, it wasn't too bad."
A torn hamstring would debilitate almost every other player on the field, but Shankle played through the pain, partly because of his dedication to his team and partly because of his love for the game.
"I love getting out there and hitting people," Shankle said. "I love the thought of making the right call on a blitz protect or burying a guy into the ground on a running play. Either way, I wanted to be out there so I just had to tough it out."
Shankle prepped at Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo, California and was recruited by a couple Pac 10 schools, but his grades weren't up to par.
"I heard a lot from Oregon, Washington and UTEP during my senior year, but they saw my transcripts and knew I wouldn't qualify, so they passed on me," Shankle admitted. "Saddleback isn't too far away, so I decided to go the JC-route and see what happened."
Early in the year he was hearing from Louisiana Tech, Arizona and Boise State, but he has sent out new tape new tape hoping to open more eyes to his abilities.
"I benched 225 (pounds) 28 times and I run a 5.3 forty this past summer," Shankle said. "I'm good at making the calls along the line and I've worked really hard on my quickness. I'm a good pass blocker, but I wanted to get better at run blocking this summer and I think I've done that.
"We run out of the shotgun all the time and that doesn't make it easy to run block, but I think I've gotten better at it." Good enough as Saddleback is undefeated and vying for a national #1 ranking in JC Grid-Wire.
Shankle will graduate this December with three years to play two seasons at the next level and he said he plans to major in Geography.