Alabama Football: SEC Transition Easy for JUCO Players


Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Deion Belue (13) plays defense during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Cowboys Stadium. Alabama won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama fans have found Signing Day to be one of the most exciting days of the season that is not within the football season.

On Signing Day, Alabama sees its hard work on blue-chip recruits from around the country submit letters of intent and lock in their college destination of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and do it much to the fervor of the fanbase, which is trying to identify the next Julio Jones or T.J. Yeldon in the class.

Often going under the radar are players coming to the Capstone from junior colleges, which have greatly helped the Tide in recent years. Terrence “Mount” Cody made many a play in his two years for the Tide – one of which was a national championship season – after spending two seasons at Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston, Miss.

Jesse Williams also started on a national championship team and is starting at a different position on this year’s team, coming to Alabama by way of Arizona Western Community College, and is starting alongside a product of East Mississippi Community College, Quinton Dial.

There’s a reason Saban recruits junior colleges the way he does.

“We’ve had a guy or two each year that’s helped us,” Saban said. “I think that first of all you’re getting a guy that’s a little bit more mature and has played a little better level of competition, especially if you can get them to come mid-year and they have a better chance to learn your system.”

Saban is aware of the differences and challenges in recruiting a junior college player as opposed to a high school player.

“Where you have a need, the most important thing about recruiting junior college guys to me is they want to go some place where they can play,” he said. “If you have a need for them at that particular position, it’s good for them, it’s good for you, and I think it can really sort of complement the players that you have on your team.”

Players are more prepared than one would expect to go from playing in a junior college to the FBS’ most talented conference, the Southeastern Conference.

“It’s very competitive because week in and week out you’re playing against top competition,” cornerback Deion Belue said, who came to Alabama after two years with Northeast Mississippi Community College.

Junior college players have unique challenges in their own careers, but also many opportunities.

“I kind of missed the break-you-in period of the first couple years,” Williams said. “But junior college isn’t a walk in the park, either.

“But definitely the efficiency in how everything’s run and scheduled has helped out a lot of people. And what he’s done has changed a lot of people’s lives. I know a lot of players that come from pretty rough backgrounds and come, I imagine, to change everything around and help benefit themselves. Coach does a really good job of helping us on and off the field with a lot of those things.”