Let me preface this by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with high school football players choosing to continue their football career by going to a university as a walk-on. In fact, it’s a very normal route for guys to take.
Personally, though, that is not the route I would take.
Why be the little fish in a big pond if you could be the big fish in a smaller pond?
While being able to attend a Big 12 or SEC school and saying, “Yeah, I’m on the football team,” would be cool, I wouldn’t want to say it if I knew there was a miniscule chance I would ever be able to step out on the field during a game. I would rather be able to have a starting position on an FCS, or D-II or D-III or even a JUCO team and know my efforts on the field helped lead my team to victory.
Here is a fact that a lot of college football fans don’t realize: there are 65 JUCO teams spread across seven conferences in the National Junior College Athletic Association. That is the same number of Power Five teams that are in the NCAA. The want for football players at the JUCO level is there.
Most everyone who plays JUCO ball has the hopes of getting the call for an opportunity to play for a 4-year university, so the effort and talent shown on the field is far from lacking. It’s good football.
Along with being able to actually step foot on the field during a game, there are many positives in choosing to go play JUCO ball rather than being a walk on elsewhere.
To name a few:
- If you transfer from a JUCO to an FCS or FBS school you are immediately eligible to play; you do not have to sit out a year.
- Any chance at receiving scholarship money and lack of student debt post-graduation should be considered sweet music to anyone’s ears.
- The purpose of JUCO football is to give you experience, if you are able to play downs in real game time situations you will develop your skills way quicker than only being a “practice squad” player. This in turn, leads to a greater chance of being able to one day transfers and make an impact in that Big 12 or SEC game like you always wanted to.
- If you lack size or speed JUCO is the perfect place to focus on the specific skill set you are lacking and make strides towards improving them.
- If you felt as if you were underrecruited in high school or grew up in a part of the state that is notorious for not receiving much recruiting traffic, JUCO is the perfect place to get eyes on you. Colleges who may never have even thought about you in high school will be handed your tape on a silver platter.
- If you have the talent to play at the FBS level but don’t have the grades, JUCO classes are much smaller and allow for more one-on-one instruction to elevate your GPA to the required average.
- Many athletes who find themselves in disciplinary issues are able to enroll and play at a junior college for a season to get themselves back on track without losing any eligibility if they transfer back up to the FCS or FBS level.
So while the scenarios of recruitment are different for every college football player and the reason for an athletes decision varies for every person, I would love to see more athletes consider JUCO as an option. Some athletes just want to be a part of a team and a walk-on spot is perfect for them, but any athlete who feels as though they just need one more year of growth or one more oppertuinity to really show teams what they've got... JUCO might be the right more for you.
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