8 Teams That Will Heavily Target 2014 JUCO Recruits
The junior college football recruiting trail can be a terrific way to bring in talent.
JUCO prospects are usually ready to play right away and are more physically and mentally ready for the college game than high school recruits.
However, many of them also have academic and/or character issues, so some NCAA programs shy away from signing JUCO players. Yet many schools appear to be primed to fill a good portion of their recruiting class with players from the junior college ranks.
A pair of Big 12 schools which are JUCO-friendly will not do anything to go against that reputation in 2014. A Big Ten school that needs immediate help looks like it will count on a lot of JUCO talent next season. An SEC and Pac-12 program are also on this list.
Syracuse signed nine JUCO prospects to its 24-man class in 2013, per Scout.com. That is clear evidence that junior college players are welcome in head coach Scott Shafer's program.
Although it lacks a JUCO pledge, with the Orange only having 11 commitments so far, Syracuse's plan will likely begin to shift towards the JUCO recruiting trail. Look for Shafer and his staff to continue to recruit several high school targets, but more than a third of this class could be filled with JUCO players.
Although Georgia is unlikely to heavily recruit JUCO players for 2014, the Dawgs have been known to take a player or two.
Head coach Mark Richt signed five JUCO prospects in 2013, per Scout.com, to help boost a recruiting class that signed 33 total players. Georgia has a great 16-man class for 2014, with one JUCO commitment.
Expect a few more junior college recruits to join the Bulldogs before February.
West Virginia has 13 commitments and three of them are already JUCO recruits, says Scout.com.
The Mountaineers do not turn away JUCO transfers, as their roster has been helped by those types of players through the years.
In 2013, West Virginia signed nine junior college prospects out 26 total signees, per Scout.com. So with their history of fishing for JUCO talent, expect the folks in Morgantown, W. Va., to get several additional transfer commitments before 2014 is over.
With six JUCO signees in 2013, Auburn tied for the lead in the SEC in that category, according to Scout.com.
Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn wants Auburn to sign the best talent possible, no matter where they are from.
The Tigers have 14 commitments in 2014, which is a relatively small class. Auburn will pursue several elite high school prospects in the fall, but if its numbers are still low towards the end of the year. Expect Malzahn to look heavily at the JUCO circuit.
Illinois is void of talent and needs more depth in its program. The best way to solve that problem is to recruit quality prospects, but not many 4-star or 5-star recruits want to play for the Illini.
The next best thing to do is go hard on the JUCO trail, as junior college prospects have more limited options than many high school recruits, which makes Illinois look a lot more attractive.
Head coach Tim Beckman has nabbed four junior college pledges, which gives him 13 commitments for 2014, according to Scout.com. As Illinois' commitments increase, expect that to be due to Beckman getting more JUCO talent.
The Wildcats have the most junior college commitments in the country at six, notes Scout.com.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez has 24 total pledges, and 25 percent of his class is from the junior college circuit.
Although Arizona's class is nearly full, the Wildcats will not be hesitant to give a few more JUCO players a long look before they shut down their 2014 recruiting campaign.
Rodriguez could bring in a top-25 class, and a large part of that may be because of how well he recruited on the JUCO trail.
Kansas State has signed 24 junior college recruits since 2011, according to Scout.com, with head coach Bill Snyder regarded as perhaps the most JUCO-friendly head coach in the country.
The Wildcats have prided themselves on bringing in junior college players and letting them make immediate impacts. Snyder has 15 commitments for 2014 and 14 are high school prospects, says Scout.com.
Take that as a sign that he may be finished scouring the high school ranks and will spend most of his remaining time in this recruiting cycle adding JUCO players.
The Jayhawks signed 16 JUCO prospects in 2013, which was easily the most in the country, per Scout.com.
Head coach Charlie Weis is looking for immediate help in Lawrence, Kan., so it was only natural for him to hit the JUCO trail hard and with force.
With Kansas going 1-11 in Weis' first season, that will make him recruit the junior college circuit heavily again in 2014. Plus, Kansas only has seven commitments, so Weis' high school recruiting board is dwindling.
He will have no choice but to heavily target JUCO prospects again this year.
Edwin Weathersby is the college football recruiting analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.