10 JUCO Transfers Who Made the Biggest Impact in Their First Year
In today's college football world, we are seeing more and more talent come out of junior colleges than actual high schools. Kids are transferring to these big time schools and with college experience already under them. They are able to step in right away and have an impact. While it is the kids coming out of high school that provide the future of a program, JUCO players are becoming more important to a team’s success and can help you win now.
The truth is that success from JUCO players has been happening for quite some time now; we are just starting to see it on a much larger scale. Some of the biggest college football stars of recent memory were JUCO transfers and there have been a couple that have played key roles in winning a national title.
If your school has picked up a few players from the junior college ranks, it wouldn't be far fetched to expect huge things from them as early as the upcoming season.
Well, just checkout some of the top JUCO transfers who lit up the college football season in their first year with a big program.
LeGarrette Blount, Oregon
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Junior College Attended: East Mississippi Community College
LeGarrette Blount became just the 13th Oregon Duck to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a single season, and he set a school record with 17 rushing touchdowns. Along with running back Jeremiah Johnson, who led the team in rushing in 2008, the two became only the second pair of backs in Oregon history to both reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
Having a unique skill set of both size and insane power, he topped 100 rushing yards in four different games and simply willed his way into the end zone. Blount and his Oregon career didn't end on the best of terms, but you couldn't have asked for a more productive player in his first season.
Now just imagine how his numbers would look if he wasn't splitting carries.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
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Junior College Attended: Hutchinson Community College
Cordarrelle Patterson would have been playing football at the big-boy level from day one but wasn't academically qualified, forcing him to play at a smaller scale early on. Patterson then stepped on campus in Knoxville and kind of took over the team despite there being other great talented receivers like Justin Hunter already on the roster.
He did a little bit of everything from catching 46 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns, to rushing for 308 yards and an extra three scores. Patterson was also effective on special teams, which includes running a kickoff back 98 yards for a score. There wasn't much this Tennessee receiver couldn't do, as he went from an unknown name to being likely a first-round pick in this year’s upcoming NFL draft.
The only downside to Patterson's career is the fact that it didn't come with many victories.
Morgan Breslin, USC
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Junior College Attended: Diablo Valley Community College
Due to the lack of depth thanks to scholarship reductions, USC is a team that is forced to play young players immediately. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it takes longer for that player to develop than the coaching staff would like.
In the case of Morgan Breslin, he was born to play the defensive side of the ball.
He finished second in the country last season with 13 sacks and led the entire Trojans team with 19.5 tackles for loss. Only Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jarvis Jones finished the season with more sacks than Breslin. His tackles for loss and sacks happened to be the most from any USC player since Kenechi Udeze dating back to 2003.
Breslin is now the face of the Trojans defense and will be high on NFL scouts radars entering the 2013 season.
Demetrius Byrd, LSU
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Junior College Attended: Pearl River Community College
LSU hasn't had much success over the years with quarterbacks and wide receivers, but Demetrius Byrd was as productive as you can ask from a first-year player.
Playing in all 14 games and earning six starts, Byrd led the team with seven touchdowns and was second with 621 receiving yards, although it was his 17.7 yards per reception that really stood out.
The Tigers went on to win the national championship that season and it probably wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the receiver’s game-winning touchdown reception against Auburn.
Byrd was an impact player from day one, and while his accomplishments aren't worthy of being a No. 1 wideout, he made his mark felt in Baton Rouge.
Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
Junior College Attended: Fort Scott Community College
Jason Pierre-Paul came into camp late, had odds stacked against him as far as playing time was concerned and he still finished the season with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. Starting in seven games for the South Florida Bulls, he also intercepted a pass that was returned for a touchdown, as well earned first-team All-Big East honors.
Pierre-Paul really didn't earn the attention he deserved because he played for a team that isn't exactly relevant in a subpar conference, but he made his mark felt and proved he deserved to be selected high in the 2010 NFL draft.
I don't think the New York Giants have regretted much when it comes to this former JUCO transfer.
Lavonte David, Nebraska
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Junior College Attended: Fort Scott Community College
College football may never see such a tackling machine more than when Lavonte David played the linebacker position for Nebraska.
He was an impact player the second he stepped on the field for the Cornhuskers and actually set a new school single-season record with an eye-popping 152 tackles. He finished eight games with double-digit tackles and three of those contests included at least 15 of those bad boys. It was an entire season of chasing down ball-carriers and getting in on the action.
David was quickly considered the best linebacker in the Big Ten and was named to the conference first-team, as well as first-team All-American. He also put himself in elite company with Nebraska fans and will go down in history as one of the greatest Cornhuskers to ever play.
Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
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Junior College Attended: Northwest Mississippi CC
Daniel Thomas wasn't eligible to play for Kansas State until the 2009 season because of academic issues. So while this may be bending the rules just a tad bit, the former Wildcats season as a first-year player was simply too good to forget.
Thomas was named a first-team All-Big 12 player as he finished his first official season with 1,265 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Also displaying good hands, he caught 25 passes for 257 yards, becoming one of the best playmakers Kansas State has ever produced.
Running with extremely powerful legs, Thomas became the fourth-fastest player in school history to clear the century mark, as it only took 192 attempts to get the job done.
The running back then went ahead and topped those numbers in 2010, but folks will never forget when they were first introduced to Thomas and his game-changing running style.
Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
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Junior College Attended: Mt. San Antonio College
Bruce Irvin was one of the more productive JUCO players we have seen recently, and he didn't miss a beat once he transferred to West Virginia.
In his first season with the Mountaineers he not only earned second-team All-Big East honors, but he also finished second in the country with 14 sacks.
Irvin proved to be a pass-rush specialist, finishing five games with multiple sacks and being ranked fourth in the Big East with 14 tackles for loss.
The West Virginia defensive end was one of the few bright spots on the Mountaineers defense, and he solidified himself as a top pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Keyshawn Johnson, USC
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Junior College Attended: West Los Angeles College
Nowadays you don't mention Keyshawn Johnson without remembering those USC seasons, but there are plenty of folks who forget that he spent two years at West Los Angeles College.
Switching to his dream school back in 1994, Johnson joined a long list of Trojans greats at the receiver position.
In his first year he racked up 66 receptions, 1,362 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He instantly become the biggest offensive weapon on the team, as there was only one other player who had at least 30 receptions, who happened to be Terry Barnum.
Johnson became a first-team All-America selection this season and helped carry the Trojans to a Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech.
Cam Newton, Auburn
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Junior College Attended: Blinn Junior College
There was absolutely nothing Cam Newton didn't do.
Before Johnny Manziel helped change the game, Newton stepped onto the scene and turned college football on its head. From setting conference and school records, to leading the Tigers back in a game against Alabama, to winning the national championship with an undefeated record, Newton was Superman.
The Auburn quarterback really only had one true season of collegiate stardom, but besides the team accomplishments, he also won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award, along with a lot more hardware.
You could make a valid argument that Newton had the best individual season of any collegiate player ever. And with that, he probably had the most successful first season as a JUCO transfer.