When it comes to recruiting junior-college prospects in college football, there is one imperative rule that everybody always needs to keep in mind.
During the overwhelming majority of the time, programs do not recruit these players to ride the pine.
Junior college prospects need to contribute from Day 1, if not start.
In addition to reshaping his offensive coaching staff, acquiring essential stopgap junior college defensive players has been Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads’ top priority during the early weeks of what will be a long offseason with no bowl game on the horizon.
Iowa State is well over halfway there in accomplishing its goals on the JUCO trail while finishing up its 2014 class. It is important, however, to note how Iowa State’s junior-college recruiting has progressed over the years.
Rhoads’ first full recruiting class is a great example. In 2010, Rhoads added seven junior college prospects to his program: Durrell Givens, Jon Caspers, Ricky Howard, Rony Nelson, Anthony Young, Albert Gary and Chris Young.
Neither Givens, a strong safety, nor Gary, a wide receiver, held a single scholarship offer in addition to Iowa State. Caspers, an offensive lineman, only had one other offer to his name (Washington State). Chris Young, a wide receiver, had Kansas State along with three mid-major programs to choose from. Nelson, a defensive end, chose Iowa State over East Carolina. Anthony Young, a cornerback, went with Iowa State over four mid-majors while Howard, a tight end, chose the Cyclones over mighty Florida International.
Of the seven, Givens and Chris Young each were major contributors their senior seasons. Gary, Nelson and Howard served as depth at their positions. Caspers left the program before graduating and Anthony Young rarely saw the field.
Let us now fast forward to last year’s Class of 2013. Rhoads added three junior-college prospects to his roster. Tight end E.J. Bibbs chose Iowa State over Nebraska and Oklahoma, and in return was recently named to the AP’s All-Big 12 second team. Running back Aaron Wimberly chose the Cyclones over TCU and Penn State and led Iowa State in rushing last season. Defensive lineman Rodney Coe selected Iowa State over South Florida and finished ninth on the team in tackles while coming on strong at the end of the season.
You don’t have to be Kirk Herbstreit to understand that when you beat out bigger programs for a prospect, chances are, he is more likely to produce than the guy being courted by Eastern Michigan.
In the last week and a half, Iowa State has added four junior college recruits to its recruiting class while finding possible replacements for defenders Jacques Washington, Deon Broomfield and Jeremiah George, while adding depth to its defensive line along the way.
Last week, free safety Devron Moore of Northeastern Oklahoma Community College chose Iowa State over Texas Tech, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin and a handful of mid-major programs. Strong safety Qujuan Floyd out of Santa Monica (Calif.) Community College chose the Cyclones over Utah. On Tuesday night, Scout.com reported that Butler County (Kan.) Community College defensive end Gabe Luna picked Iowa State over Texas Tech and California. Meanwhile, inside linebacker Jordan Harris picked Iowa State over Cincinnati and a host of mid-majors.
A “sure thing” does not exist in junior college recruiting but if the history of the Paul Rhoads era and this type of prospect has shown us anything, it is that this new round of JUCO additions looks more like the 2013 group compared to the bunch from 2010.
As is always the case in recruiting, time will ultimately tell the story on how this group will turn out.
In a joint venture with the Des Moines Register and CycloneFanatic.com, I will writing weekly recruiting updates between now and signing day on Feb. 5 that can be read in Friday’s paper.