Bill Snyder built Kansas State from Futility U to a national
championship contender with his recruitment and development of junior college
players. Then he retired.
After three years away -- and after the program started to slowly sink back to
the bottom of the Big 12 under
Ron Prince -- Snyder returned to the
Wildcats. His second stint with the program is going the same way as the first
with the team being chock-full of JUCO talent and in prime position to play for
a national championship as the No. 2 team in the BCS standings.
Snyder said that his philosophy is not to compare where his players come from
but how they can help the program succeed.
"Our feeling has been not to focus on community college versus high school
players," he said, "but finding quality young people to fit into what we are
doing and do what we need them to do.
Kansas State has been among the most active programs
recruiting the junior college ranks. There are currently seven former JUCO
prospects who are starting for the Wildcats -- not counting 2011 signee
Justin Tuggle who had started but is now a reserve.
KSU's JUCO STARTERS
Adam Davis, Class of 2010
Four-star from Hutchinson (Kan.) C.C.
DT Vaikalafi Lutui, Class of 2011 Two-star from Walnut (Calif.) Mt. San Antonio C.C.
CB Nigel Malone, Class of 2011
Three-star from San Francisco (Cali.) City College
S Jarard Milo, Class of 2011
Walk on from El Dorado (Kan.) Butler County C.C.
OT Tavon Rooks, Class of 2012
Three-star from Corsicana (Texas) Navarro J.C.
CB Allen Chapman, Class of 2011
Three-star from San Francisco (Calif.) City College.
"We look for quality young people who meet the demands of the program."
KSU's 29 junior college players on the team's 105-man roster is the most
among FBS-level programs.
GoPowercat.com recruiting analyst
Brian Gates said that the sheer volume of quality junior college programs within
the state makes for a ready-made recruiting territory for the Wildcats.
"There are really good players at the junior colleges in this state, and so Coach
Snyder does try to keep that talent in-state," Gates said.
Gates added that Snyder makes similar efforts into getting to know his potential
older, more-experienced players.
"He and the staff spend time recruiting the JUCO kids and really getting to know
them," Gates said. "They treat them just like the high school kids they are
after and they don't just look at height and weight and bring a player in. The
staff wants kids who fit and not just kids who are looking for an opportunity at
early playing time."
But early playing time is something that cannot be overlooked, according to
JCGridiron.com publisher Brad Hoiseth.
"Coach Snyder is not afraid to get kids on the field early," Hoiseth said. "That
is certainly something a junior college kid looks at. Most of those guys aren't
going to want to go and sit out for another year, and Kansas State has plenty of
experience with getting guys enrolled, getting them playing time, and getting
them a degree."
Hoiseth has been covering the junior college game since 1995 and has published
his "Dirty 30" team rankings for the last eight years.
He said that the Big 12 has historically been very active in the junior college
ranks, but Kansas State is among the leaders nationally.
"Snyder does a good job with making sure to be upfront with everyone," Hoiseth
said. "He builds relationships with players and coaches, and he has some very
well entrenched pipelines that will feed the program."
According to Gates, the reshaping of the program under Snyder, for the second
time, had been slowed by the recruiting efforts of Prince.
"They really aren't close to having 85 scholarship guys just yet," he said. "Ron
Prince left them in a bind, and balancing the numbers has been hard. What they
are doing right now is pretty remarkable."
Balancing the roster is all a part of the process according to Snyder.
"We don't worry about numbers like that," he said. "We get young guys in the
program and make them part of our family."
THREE PROGRAMS THAT ARE FINDING SUCCESS ON THE JUCO LEVEL
the Pac-12 with a dozen players from the junior college ranks, the Wildcats
have not added stars to the team but have added depth with
Willie Mobley and
Brendan Murphy seeing playing time in all eight
games and Drew Robinson and Lamar De Rego getting on the
field in six. B.J. Denker finished off the victory over USC at the
quarterback position after
Matt Scott was knocked out with a
concussion. The offensive line is also littered with junior college
prospects. Oregon State and Washington State both are heavy into recruiting
the junior college ranks in the conference with the Beavers having eight
players on the roster and Washington State listing 11.
Rebels lead the SEC with 20 former junior college players on the roster and
several have made an impact on the field. Starting quarterback
Bo Wallace came to the program from East Mississippi Community College.
Also on offense, the Rebels rely on running back Randall Mackey who
has carried the ball 52 times this season for 258 yards and three scores and
has added 16 receptions and 251 yards from the backfield. On defense,
Dehendret Collins is tied for the team lead with two interceptions
and has 24 tackles in five starts. Wesley Pendleton has made six
starts in the defensive backfield alongside Collins and made 13 tackles.
Uriah Grant and
Gilbert Pena have both made multiple
starts on the defensive line and Aaron Garbutt has been on the
field in all eight games this season.
Tech is not far behind Kansas State in the Big 12 in terms of number of
former junior college players, as the Red Raiders have 17 on the roster. It
is odd that the numbers tilt more toward the offensive side than the team's
much improved defense.
Darrin Moore leads the team with 43
receptions and is second on the team with 440 yards and eight touchdowns.
SaDale Foster is third on the team with 66 carries for 347 yards
rushing as well as contributing eight receptions and three total touchdowns.
Javon Bell is fifth on the team in receptions. Kicker
Ryan Bustin is also from the JUCO ranks and has connected on 9 of 13 field
Will Smith is third on the team in tackles and
Bruce Jones has played in eight games and made 19 tackles.
THREE PROGRAMS THAT COULD BENEFIT FROM DIPPING INTO JUCO RECRUITING
the current plan in Lexington, whatever it is, simply isn't working. The
Wildcats are struggling on the field and struggling in the living room. With
three JUCO players on the roster and a seemingly empty cabinet of talent,
taking the time to invest more in the junior college ranks could benefit the
Wildcats as the coaches could put a more polished product on the field and
offer prospects the opportunity to play in the SEC. Academics have held many
teams back from dipping too much into the junior college product, but the
NCAA and the NJCAA have made tangible progress in preparing more players to
make strides toward degrees and getting players enrolled, and maintaining
eligibility has become easier.
is a stunner to suggest that a program located in one of the biggest of
hotbeds for talent needs to take a look at the junior college level, but that
may be what Miami needs. The program has struggled to recruit and develop
defensive lineman and linebackers over the last several years and the play
at the positions has not been very good. There are currently two junior
college players on the roster and that number doesn't figure to go up
dramatically as it would require a major change in philosophy and a sizeable
amount of swallowed pride. Seeing kids for an extra year or two could really
help here and could plug some immediate holes.
the Big Ten schools, Minnesota is already one of the more active players in
the junior college market due to the limited crop of talent within its home
state. The Gophers have seven players from junior colleges on the roster and
a few more that have come to the program from the many lower level colleges
in the area. Minnesota is spending a lot of time in Florida and having a
hard time landing many players who want to come play in the cold weather
conditions. The current class has only seven commitments and filling this
class may come down to landing several ready-to-play guys from junior
colleges. Academics keep this door pretty well
closed at many other Big Ten schools; but Minnesota is a little less stringent in its requirements and so
it can pull more players into the program. An influx of talent could be
great as this program is dreaming of the Glen Mason days.