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August 18, 2008

Jucos come ready for immediate action

MORE: Top non-juco transfers | Top players returning from injury | Position battles worth watching

Junior college transfers are the spackle of college football. Got a hole? Need a quick fix? Go the juco route.

A 20-year-old transfer often is more physically ready, so teams in need can plug them in rather than wait for a freshman to develop.

Many bring great talent. Some bring a checkered past. A few could mean the difference between a good season and an outstanding one.

Here's an alphabetical list of 12 JC college transfers who could pay immediate dividends this season. :

FRESH STARTERS
OREGON running back LeGarrette Blount
BUZZ: The nation's top-rated junior college running back prospect needs to help ease the loss of Jonathan Stewart, the Ducks' leading rusher in '07 and a first-round NFL pick. Oregon ranked sixth in the nation in rushing offense last season and Blount will help keep the running game strong. He has good size (6-2/229), quick feet and great vision - which he used to accumulate 2,292 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns in two seasons at East Mississippi CC in Scooba, Miss.
KANSAS STATE defensive tackle Daniel Calvin
BUZZ: In seven losses, Kansas State allowed an average of 177.6 rushing yards, so obviously the Wildcats have to improve against the run. That brings us to Calvin, one of 19 junior college players Kansas State signed in February. Calvin (6-3/310) is K-State's highest-rated transfer, listed at No. 13 overall. He had 75 tackles and 12 sacks for Bakersfield (Calif.) College last season.
UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft
BUZZ: After injuries to Patrick Cowan and Ben Olson, Craft appears to be the Bruins' likely starter. Craft started at San Diego State in 2006, then starred at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., last season, when he passed for 4,231 yards and 44 touchdowns and was named the state's JC player of the year. Those numbers provide some encouragement for UCLA, which last season ranked 10th in the Pac-10 in passing, ninth in scoring and ninth in total offense.
KANSAS running back Jocques Crawford
BUZZ: The National Junior College Athletic Association offensive player of the year in 2007, Crawford led the nation with 1,935 rushing yards for Cisco (Texas) JC. He might start immediately for the Jayhawks, who averaged 189 rushing yards per game last season but must replace departed leading rusher Brandon McAnderson.

MEMPHIS quarterback Arkelon Hall
BUZZ: Originally signed by Washington State, Hall redshirted in 2005, then broke his leg in a preseason scrimmage in 2006. Hall, a California native, transferred to the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif., and last season passed for 2,398 yards and 13 touchdowns. Mobile and with good arm strength, he could be a perfect fit in coach Tommy West's spread offense. Last season, the Tigers averaged 305.8 passing yards per game to rank 13th in the nation in pass offense, but must replace departed quarterback Martin Hankins.
LOUISIANA TECH defensive end Kwame Jordan
BUZZ: Louisiana Tech's pass rush was mediocre at best last season, and three starters were lost from the line. In comes Jordan, who posted 17.5 sacks last season at Fort Scott (Kan.) CC. Getting pressure is extremely important in the pass-oriented WAC, and Jordan should help Tech in that respect.

TEXAS TECH defensive end Brandon Sesay
BUZZ: Already hailed as Tech's premier defensive prospect in the Mike Leach era, the thought is Sesay can be a dominant pass rusher for a team that could use one. Originally a Georgia signee, Sesay posted a dozen sacks as a freshman at Northwest CC in Senatobia, Miss. He followed that with four sacks in six games as a sophomore at College of the Sequoias last season. The Red Raiders had just 11 sacks in conference play last season, and in the pass-oriented Big 12, a strong pass rush is a must.
FLORIDA STATE wide receiver Corey Surrency
BUZZ: The No. 9 JC prospect nationally, Surrency averaged 22.3 yards on 30 catches for El Camino CC in Torrance, Calif. Although top receivers Preston Parker and Greg Carr return, they combined for only seven touchdown receptions last and the Seminoles need big-play threats after ranking 91st in the nation in scoring offense last season.

AUBURN quarterback Chris Todd
BUZZ: Though he passed for only 968 yards with eight interceptions last season at Hutchinson (Kan.) JC, Todd is competing with Kodi Burns for the Tigers' starting quarterback job. Auburn is changing to the spread offense, and Todd has experience in the offense after beginning his career at Texas Tech.

PURDUE wide receiver Aaron Valentin
BUZZ: The Boilermakers have ranked among the nation's top 12 in passing offense in three of the past four seasons. But they lost four of their top five receivers from '07. Expect quarterback Curtis Painter to exceed 3,500 passing yards for the third consecutive year. He'll have to throw to somebody, and Valentin figures to get his share. He averaged 16.5 yards on 37 receptions and scored 10 touchdowns last season at Erie (N.Y.) CC, and projects to get many more opportunities at Purdue.
FLORIDA STATE defensive end Markus White
BUZZ: The Seminoles need White to help improve their pass rush. An excellent athlete with a 30-inch vertical leap, White (6-4/245) posted 24.5 sacks at Butler County CC in El Dorado, Kan., last season, when he also had 97 tackles and forced six fumbles. He is the No. 3 overall JC recruit in the country.

TENNESSEE linebacker Gerald Williams
BUZZ: Williams, a 6-foot-4, 240-pounder, recorded 242 tackles in two junior college seasons. Last year, he helped City College of San Francisco win a version of the junior college national championship by posting 146 tackles and forcing six fumbles. Tennessee, which lost star middle linebacker Jerod Mayo to the NFL, needs help in bolstering a mediocre run defense. The Vols also are toying with putting Williams at defensive end on obvious passing downs.

OTHERS TO WATCH: Oklahoma State FS Lucien Antoine, Oklahoma LB J.R. Bryant, Minnesota FS Tramaine Brock, Louisville LB Chris Campa, Iowa State WR Jason Carlson, Alabama DT Terrence Cody, Middle Tennessee State DE Jarrett Crittenton, Florida DT Troy Epps, West Virginia DE Larry Ford, Iowa TB Nate Guillory, Illinois S Donsay Hardeman, Pittsburgh C Robb Houser, Ohio U. QB Boo Jackson, Boise State LB Daron Mackey, Ole Miss CB Demareo Marr, Colorado LB Shaun Mohler, Florida WR Carl Moore, Wisconsin DE Dan Moore, South Florida LB Kion Wilson.

MORE: Top non-juco transfers | Top players returning from injury | Position battles worth watching

Olin Buchanan is a senior national college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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