Junior colleges serve as an important step for many athletes on their way to play at a four-year college. The players all have their own story about why they picked the JUCO route.
Central Arizona College in Coolidge and Arizona Western College in Yuma each picked up a player that could provide an immediate impact on their programs.
Chris Young comes from Auburn, Wash., and has already enrolled in classes at Western. He has been working out with other Matador football players the last couple of weeks to get ready for the first organized practice on Thursday.
And try to get acclimated to the 100-degree temperatures.
The talented running back should make an impact right away, even though he will be playing in a new position.
Young rushed for 1,424 yards and scored 26 touchdowns as a senior. But the coaches at Western have decided to put him on the other side of the ball and use his speed and athleticism as a safety. The Matadors got a pre-season No. 1 ranking from JCGridiron.com and aren’t hurting for offensive power.
According to Young, the University of Washington is holding a scholarship for him until he gets finished with his JUCO stint.
And gets his grades up.
Young, who also wrestled his senior year, thought he was headed straight to UW from high school. But some disappointing SAT scores derailed those plans.
His loss is Western’s gain.
Over in Coolidge, CAC picked up a power pitcher who throws a 93 mph fastball, a wicked curve ball, and a snarly change-up.
Clay Wallace was disappointed when he didn’t get drafted out of Zionsville High School in Indiana, even though several Major League teams had contacted him prior to the draft.
He also had scholarship offers from several NCAA D-I programs. But he turned those down and decided to pack up and head to the desert. He’ll arrive just in time for the start of classes Aug. 16.
Wallace wants to use CAC as a short-cut to the pro ranks. He will be eligible for the MLB draft after just one season at the two-year school. If he had accepted one of the scholarship offers, he would have to play three years of college ball before being able to enter the draft.
His high school career had trouble getting on track because he transferred in to Zionsville and was able to play just one year there, putting together a 4-5 record and a 3.80 ERA. But he led the team in strike-outs with 87 on the season.
Any attention he got from scouts came during the off-season when the right-hander played for a travel team. That’s when the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants put out their feelers.
But give the right-hander a year or two at CAC where he hopes to improve his velocity and add a few more pitches to his repertoire. Maybe then there will be some serious offers.
In the meantime, the Vaqueros get some help on the mound.
And over in Yuma, the Matadors shore up their secondary.