We finish up our four part series on incoming recruits by taking a look at some of the top JUCO and prep school athletes. We’ve separated them from the rest as they come to campus with their own set of special circumstances. There is a reason they went the JUCO or prep school route and it's most often those pesky grades. Grades that they will need to keep up if they expect to be admitted this fall. There is a high bust rate for JUCO athletes. Sure they come in with lofty star ratings and “more maturity”, but for every Larry Fitzgerald (prep school) and K.J. Harris (JUCO) there are countless P.T. Gates who never make it on campus or see the field. The window of opportunity is small and they don’t have time sit and learn. They either provide quick help or they finish out their careers in relative obscurity.
QB Greg Alexander (JUCO, Jr), Hawaii - Alexander is a big kid with a strong arm. He attended Santa Rosa Junior College where he threw for 76 touchdowns in two seasons. Including a school-record 3,876 yards and 43 touchdowns last year. Alexander is not on campus but is set to graduate in May. Alexander will compete against senior Tyler Graunke for the vacant starting quarterback spot. Graunke has already started 2008 in hot water with new head coach Greg McMackin because of grades. He better keep his head together if he hopes to fend off Alexander.
QB Jacob Bower (JUCO, So), Tulsa - Paul Smith is gone and the Golden Hurricanes will be looking for a new signal caller. Bower, who is on campus, will compete this spring with senior David Johnson and sophomore Clark Harrell for the right to run Gus Malzhan’s high-powered offense. Bower is a big strong-armed quarterback that threw for over 3000-yards and 35 touchdowns at Bakersfield College last year. The 22-year old originally signed with BYU, taking two years off for missionary work before returning to BYU and ultimately transferring to Bakersfield. Despite his age he will come in as a sophomore and have three years of eligibility remaining.
QB Cody Boek, Boston College - Matt Ryan is gone, and this opens the door for Boek or freshman Justin Toggle to compete right away. For now we have senior Chris Cane penciled in as the starter. However, Cane threw all of four passes in 2007.
QB Greg Cross (JUCO, Jr), Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh quarterback woes were not a surprise last year. Injuries and graduation derailed the Pitt offense before it even had a chance. Cross, who is already enrolled, will get added to the mix that includes senior Bill Stull, sophomore Pat Bostick and sophomore Kevan Smith. Cross is a different type of quarterback than the others. He is more of a spread option type player, so it will be interesting to see which direction Pitt goes.
RB LeGarrette Blount (JUCO, Jr), Oregon – Blount is the top JUCO running back in the class of 2008. Blount is a big powerful freight train that has a pretty good top end once the locomotive gets rolling. In short he is a beast. With Jonathan Stewart off to the NFL and Jeremiah Johnson's (knee) status for ’08 unclear, Blount has a very good chance at immediate playing time. He has also enrolled early, so we’ll be tracking him this spring.
RB Enrique Davis (prep, Fr), Mississippi Davis committed to Auburn last year but never made it on campus. With a year of prep school seasoning at Hargrave Military Academy, he could be even better than last year. Davis comes in as one of the top prep school kids in the country. Davis chose Ole Miss over Auburn this year, most likely because he took a look at the depth chart. Workhorse BenJarvus Green-Ellis graduated and the Rebels gave very few carries to young backs last year. Davis will battle Cordera Eason and Jason Cook for the starting spot.
RB Tavares Pressley (JUCO, Jr), Florida State – In a recent podcast with Athlon Sports' recruiting editor Braden Gall, he mentioned “if there is anyone that looks like Darren McFadden on film, it is Tavares Pressley.” High praise for the Seminole JUCO. Pressley may not have the power and shoulder lean of McFadden, but he does have similar size and speed. The Seminoles are definitely in need of a playmaker at the running back spot.
RB Terence Kerns (prep, Fr), West Virginia - Kerns committed to the Mountaineers last year but spent 2007 at Hargrave Military Academy (along with Davis) working on his grades. Kerns still has another semester of work ahead of him to get qualified. If he makes it on campus, the power back could pair up with speed back Noel Devine in the backfield.
RB Jocques Crawford (JUCO, Jr), Kansas – Kansas loses power back Brandon McAnderson but does return Jake Sharp. Crawford is a tough physical runner that is not afraid to drop the pads and take on linebackers. He could see some carries alongside Sharp next year.
RB Nate Guillory (JUCO, Jr), Iowa – Guilroy is a small, cut-back runner. He is on campus and should participate in spring practice. It appears Shonn Greene will be back on campus this summer, but the starting running back spot is up in the air for the Hawkeyes.
WR Carl Moore (JUCO, Jr), Florida - The 6-4 Moore comes in as the top rated JUCO wide receiver in the class of 2008. Being that he will come in as a junior and only have two years of eligibility, the Gators are expecting him to contribute right away. Moore is on campus, and we should get a feel for where he is at this spring.
WR Dwight Jones (prep, Fr), North Carolina - Jones was a highly anticipated recruit for Butch Davis last year. Like Davis and Kerns, he spent 2007 playing for Hargrave Military Academy. Jones is a big receiver that could be a nice target for T.J Yates and the Tar Heels' offense.
WR DeAngelo Benton (prep, Fr), LSU - Yep, you guessed it, another product of Hargrave Military Academy. Benton has good size and speed. However, LSU has a number of wide receivers returning.
Others to Watch
QB/WR David Pittman (JUCO, Jr), Minnesota QB Brent Rausch (JUCO, So), Hawaii QB Kevin Craft (JUCO, Jr), UCLA QB Chris Todd (JUCO, Jr), Auburn QB Cannon Smith (prep, Fr), Miami(Fl) QB Dax Crum (JUCO, So), Wyoming QB Arkelon Hall (JUCO, So), Memphis QB Boo Jackson (JUCO, Jr), Ohio QB Tyson Lee (JUCO, Jr), Mississippi State RB Beau Johnson (JUCO, Jr), Oklahoma State RB Eric Baker (prep, Fr), South Carolina RB Jeremy Francis (JUCO, Jr), Oregon State WR Freddie Parham (JUCO, Jr), Southern Miss WR Andrew Harris (prep, Fr), Ole Miss WR Aubrey Quarles (JUCO, Jr), Kansas State WR Vincent Hill (prep, Fr), Minnesota WR Aiona Key (JUCO, Jr), Utah WR Corey Surrency (JUCO, Jr), Florida State WR Aaron Valentine (JUCO, Jr), Purdue WR Dustin Blount (JUCO, Jr), Hawaii WR Jovonte Taylor (JUCO, Jr), Hawaii WR Michael Tinoco (JUCO, Jr), Hawaii WR Craig Bell (JUCO, Jr), Hawaii WR Ryan Henry (JUCO, Jr), Hawaii TE Devonte Campbell (prep, Fr), Maryland