Monday, September 23, 2013

The JUCO scene: Fresno City College quadruples the share in the backfield

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
Time to get back into the junior college scene. I've gotten a chance to check out Fresno City College in the last two Saturdays. The Rams look deep and almost flawless in the two games I saw.

The traditional state junior college powerhouse delivered two lopsided victories against Merced (76-19) on Sept. 14 and Reedley College (48-7) on Sept. 21.

One area I've examined the most is their backfield. The position that's produced NFL running back Maurice Morris and future Fresno State walk-on Rob Johnson has gone with four running backs that wear down defenses. These four guys have rushed between 144-165 yards through three games this season. As a team, the Rams have produced 237 team rushing yards this season (eighth best in the state).

Here's who's gotten their share of carries for the Rams:


* The former Bullard High running back is deadly on outside runs especially counter plays. He's averaging a team-high 10.3 yards per carry.


* Wingfield has a small stature at 5-foot-7, but is almost Maurice Jones-Drew like with a similar running style. Wingfield has improved on breaking tackles from his high school playing days at Sunnyside High in Fresno. He uses his blockers well with hiding behind them, then darting through an opening. Wingfield is tied with Ledezma with 165 rushing yards and averages 6.3 yards per carry.


* Mechikoff (photo) might be the fastest Ram running back. He's got an explosive burst through the open hole and is also valuable on sweep plays. He'll need to improve his ability to break tackles, since he has gone down on first contact numerous of times. Like Wingfield, he's another 5-foot-7 back. However, Mechikoff, who played his high school football at Clovis North,  is a cutback artist at running back and has proven to be a big play threat in the Rams' backfield. He's leading FCC with five rushing touchdowns and averages 5.4 yards per carry.

More on Mechikoff:


* Shufford is the biggest back out of the four at nearly 6-foot-1 and 210-pounds. He's a powerful inside runner who can break tackles but also has enough speed to bounce outside. He's also versatile enough to play quarterback, since he did that briefly during the 2013 City/County All-Star game in June. Shufford has 144 yards and an average of 5.5 yards per carry.

More on Shufford: (Sanger High School film)


* Sticking with Fresno City, a Ram secondary that produced three Division-I recruits may soon see Gerald Nutt continue the lineage. Nutt, a former Fresno State walk-on wide receiver and Clovis West star, currently leads the Rams with three interceptions, including two in the 48-7 win against Reedley College on Sept. 21. Nutt is a tall 6-foot-2, 200-pound press corner who's beginning to improve his nose for the ball under new Ram secondary coach Ricky Manning Jr.

 * Brad Odeman is putting up ridiculous numbers at Ventura College. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound pro-style quarterback has thrown 15 touchdown passes, has a completion percentage of 65.2 percent, and is yet to be picked off. His numbers have also increased each game (249 yards against Riverside, 337 yards against Long Beach, 432 against Los Angeles Harbor).

* De Anza College is 3-0 and has one of the most productive wide receivers in the state. Bryan Fobbs is averaging 9.7 catches per game with his 29 receptions. Fobbs also has a Nor Cal best 455 yards and six touchdowns. What's impressive about Fobbs is despite being just 6-feet-tall and 180-pounds, he's established himself as a dangerous jump ball wide receiver and red zone target. He's shown excellent body control on his catches.

More on Fobbs:

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