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Early Signing Period 2018: Junior College players add to Colorado’s program

There is a specific strategy in mind.

NCAA Football: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Junior College players are a reality of college football. Every program recruits them and brings them in. Almost all prefer the mid-year transfers, some prefer the four year college bouncebacks, and some prefer players that never got into a big college, due to academics or other extenuating circumstances. Every player is a unique situation. CU recruits any player that fits, but more often than not, they fit a profile. And it’s remarkable similar to the prep players.

Coach MacIntyre and staff target full qualifiers out of high school. This clears up a lot of headaches. You may miss out on some serious talent this way (and CU still recruits that talent at times), but if you limit the process to mainly full qualifiers, the worries immediately dissipate. You know the player can get into almost any school and you know that he can handle the academics. Coaches certainly appreciate this approach. Now, you may wonder why a player who was fully able to get into a four-year college went to a two-year college to play football. Well, the reasons vary. Aaron Maddox knew he could bigger offers after a good year at a community college. Ahkello Witherspoon grew six inches between his senior year of high school and his freshman year of college. Jordan Carrell put on a ton of weight and Leo Jackson had to work on his body a bit. It happens. All of these players are Pac-12 players, but they bloomed at a different pace than everyone else, and the JUCO system gave them a flexibility they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Coach MacIntyre also prefers to target junior college players with a redshirt year left. Once again, this makes life easier on the coaches. Should anything go awry, like Ahkello Witherspoon’s lack of weight, a redshirt year just gives the coaches and player flexibility. It allows for a feeling out period or an adjustment period, where the player can make the jump from his community college to a bigger college without losing eligibility. Much like an incoming freshman redshirting, it gives the player more time with the staff. And, honestly, MacIntyre treats some JUCO players like incoming freshman who are a little older. An incoming sophomore with four years of eligibility left (should he need it), coming from a top junior college program, has time to adjust, while still providing a tangible experience benefit to an incoming freshman.

This year has an impressive crop of two-year college players coming to CU. All of them expect to impact the team immediately. And almost all of them follow this exact strategy (with an exceptional talent like Darrion Jones thrown in). For players like Delrick Abrams and Davion Taylor, this works like a charm. They are extremely talented, and fine academically, but extenuating circumstances took them to the JuCo route. They still have a redshirt, they have their head on straight, and they earned the opportunities they are getting. These are the players that Coach MacIntyre (and, as evidence suggests, everyone else) loves to get. He believes in molding the man, not just the player, and these players are a perfect opportunity to change a life for the better.