Thursday, August 2, 2012

Junior College talent also golden in this state

photo courtesy of max preps
The 16 or 17-year-old prospect aren't the only football players seeking exposure. Sometimes, there's no real age limit when chasing down a scholarship.

Look at players like Matt Giordano of the Oakland Raiders. Long before his NFL days and suiting up for Cal, he was chasing a scholarship opportunity more so through Fresno City College. Same was the case for one former Florida commitment who wound up winning a national title at not only Auburn, but at Texas Junior College powerhouse Blinn College, Cam Newton. Even Aaron Rodgers, before being a high draft pick out of Cal and winning a Super Bowl had some of his humble roots at Butte College in Northern California.

Any chance some of these guys in California at the junior college level goes down a path that made Newton, Rodgers and countless others successful down the road? Being around the JUCO scene, a number of those guys come out even hungrier and more determined, plus more motivated. They'll face the stereotype of being washed up or being in a situation they never should have gone too, which led them to the J.C level. Still though, this is a level of football that can't always be overlooked.

So here's a look at some of the top JUCO talent that caught my attention, starting with the quarterbacks:


He seemed to do so much out of so little while at Clovis High School. In his senior year back in 2009, many saw No. 6 running around and making huge gains with his legs, but also doing the same thing with his rocket-launching right arm.

The knock on Mitchell (photo) is maybe the fact that he didn't have the winningest prep career with the Cougars. His senior year saw a 3-7 season and a new transition under then first-year head coach Rich Hammond.

However, when it comes to the on the field stuff, followers of Fresno City Rams football could be in for a potential treat at Fresno's legendary Ratcliffe Stadium.

Mitchell's arm, even despite his last real full-time action being back in 2009, still seems to have not lost any rust. His gun is still pretty active and has worked tirelessly this off-season to show he's ready to take charge of the state junior college runner-up from 2011. His size at 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 pounds also is a plus. He even gives the Rams this dimension perhaps not seen since former Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz was a Ram, a scrambling dimension. Even during the 3-7 season, Mitchell swiftly blew past defenses with his feet.

The Rams have pumped out some quality NFL names like Maurice Morris, Zach Diles, Calvin Schexnayder and Cameron Worrell in the past. With his continued determination to lead his next team and his on-field skills already in place, Mitchell has great potential to become the next Rams' sensation.



The former Ridgeview-Bakersfield quarterback gained late interest from Idaho and San Jose State, but a broken collarbone sealed his fate, now he's ready to take control of the Giants.

That setback towards the end has got to be fuel to Ferguson's fire. He already has very impressive size at 6-foot-4 and roughly 200 pounds. His arm strength, especially in the play action, has got to be his biggest strength. Ferguson seemed unafraid to throw it deep in the run-heavy Wolf Pack offense. He even showed some rare escapability by shedding pass rushers and still throwing it down field.

Ferguson isn't the most feet-footed of passers though, and still won't always take off and run. He seemed to also look more comfortable throwing the ball out of play-action plays, so that makes me wonder if he can make all kinds of throws or is just a one-dimensional passer.

His size though and his strength in his right arm makes him an intriguing prospect at this level. He might be the main headliner of the Giants' 2012 recruiting class.



Neyer is a pretty interesting story. He was once a walk-on at USC, now finds himself at nearby Los Angeles Pierce College.

The Xavier College Prep-Palm Desert quarterback is now seeking a scholarship and more exposure at the junior college level. He also shares this thing in common with the likes of Cam Newton, Florida State's E.J Manuel, Washington's Keith Price and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, he's worked with renown quarterback guru Steve Calhoun in Southern California.

Like Ferguson, Neyer comes off as a deep ball, play-action guy. Except, when breaking his film down closely, Neyer seems to be much more smoother with his feet in the roll out passes. He even was given the freedom to throw the ball frequently out of the triple option scheme, which rarely emphasizes down field passing. He also showed some poise despite facing a heavy rush on a few occasions.

He isn't as tall as Ferguson or Mitchell at barely 6-foot-2. Because of his play-action ability and the fact that he ran an offense that was mainly run heavy, Neyer is probably better suited for a pro-style offense after L.A Pierce College. But certainly an incoming J.C quarterback to watch down in Southern California.



Fennell comes from one football factory in Long Beach Poly, who has produced the likes of Herschel Dennis, Darnell Bing, Mercedes Lewis, even DeSean Jackson.

Fennell was even a winner at Poly, with a 28-2 combined record and being the first quarterback in school history to guide his team to back-to-back CIF titles.

The 6-foot-2, 215 pound Fennell though found himself lost in the shuffle at Cerritos College last year and wound up sitting out with a redshirt year. He's penciled in to get the job though this time around in Southern California. Fennell is a dual-threat who can beat opponents with his arm and feet.

One setback he may have had at Long Beach Poly was the fact that he wasn't the most accurate of throwers, with his 48.9% completion rating during his senior year. But thanks to a powerful Jackrabbits running game, that aspect was able to hide Fennell's deficiencies.

Still though, if he's to take the next step, he'll have to prove he can be an accurate thrower, while also running around pass rushers and blitzers.

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