Cassius Peat has become Arizona’s version of The Travelin’ Man. The football stand-out from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe is just settling into his third college since graduating in 2015.
But Peat is just part of what has become a nomadic trend this year for some of the state’s top recruits and most recognizable names in prep sports.
However, that can’t be seen as a good thing. It just calls into question whether these athletes were given good guidance when making their college choices, or were adequately prepared for success at the next level.
Hopefully, that doesn’t become an indictment on the quality of high school sports in Arizona.
In addition to Peat, the list of high-profile transfers in recent months includes Bryce Perkins from Chandler High, Casey Benson from Corona del Sol HS, Paul Lucas from Mountain Pointe HS, and Michael Bibby from Shadow Mountain HS.
Peat is a 6’4″, 270-pound defensive lineman who probably gained even more recognition at Corona del Sol by helping the school to four straight state championships in basketball. When he opted to continue on with football, Michigan State made the four-star recruit an offer, but he wound up spending just a redshirt season with the Spartans before leaving to attend Pima Community College where he finished up some credits needed to complete his AA degree.
He then committed to play at UCLA, but Michigan State wanted him to re-commit to their program. But before he could get back into the MSU program, the coaches changed their minds and Peat decided to play this season at Scottsdale Community College before looking again for a Division I program at which he could use his remaining two years of D-I eligibility.
The junior-college ranks got another gift last month when Perkins signed with Arizona Western College in Yuma.
Rated as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, Perkins wrapped up a senior season in which he threw for 3.001 yards and 46 touchdowns to lead the Wolves to a 13-2 record and the school’s first state championship in 65 years.
He chose to stay in-state for his college career and redshirted his first season at Arizona State. Last year he was sidelined with multiple neck fractures before the 2016 season got started and sat out another season.
This year he saw limited work in spring practice and would have been competing with five other quarterbacks at ASU and looking at an uphill battle for a starting spot. At Arizona Western he becomes the final piece that team needs to compete again for a national title. Last year, the Matadors finished 11-1 and runner-up for the NJCAA title.
Two of the others on the list of recent transfers both hooked on with other D-I programs: Lucas on the ASU football team and Benson on board the Grand Canyon University basketball program.
Lucas first committed to ASU right after his senior football season, but then decided to switch to Oregon State and played two seasons with the Beavers during which he ran for 285 yards on 56 carries and had six receptions for 63 more.
A state champion in the 100-meter dash at Mountain Pointe, Lucas transferred to ASU in time to participate on the 2017 track team, which he could do right away since OSU didn’t have a track program, but he will have to follow NCAA transfer rules for football and sit out the coming season.
Benson, a standout point guard at Corona who was named Arizona Player of the Year, spent the last three years playing for the Oregon Ducks. He started all 38 games during the 2015-16 season, but accepted the role of primary sixth man for the Ducks last season, providing just over 40 percent accuracy from behind the arc, but just five points a game in limited playing time.
Since he has completed his college degree, he will be eligible to play this season and can give head coach Dan Majerle his final year of eligibility.
And finally, there’s Bibby, who as far as we know is still looking for a landing spot after leaving the University of South Florida program following his freshman season on a 7-23 Bulls’ team that finished last in its conference.
(*Update 7/31/17: Bibby committed today to play for Appalachian State, a Division I program in North Carolina. He will sit out this season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules and then will have three years of eligibility to give the Mountaineers.)
He played in 17 games, starting nine of those, and averaged 6.5 points and two assists per game. As a senior at Shadow Mountain, he averaged 19 points and five assists to earn Player of the Year honors.
Bibby helped Shadow Mountain to two state titles. But right now, he’s still looking for a chance to prove he can do the same at the next level.