National Signing Day Countdown: Instant Impact JUCO Transfers

    Which of this year’s JUCO transfers are poised to have the biggest impact on the 2017 college football season?

    January 28, 2017

    Which of this year’s JUCO transfers are poised to have the biggest impact on the 2017 college football season?


    So who’s going to be this year’s Dede Westbrook or Garett Bolles in college football? Which of the dozens of JUCO transfers will author a magical season at the FBS level after laboring in intercollegiate purgatory over the past year or two?

    While blue-chip high school stars are signed for tomorrow, junior college standouts are recruited to contribute immediately. When a player from a two-year program is inked, he’s expected to deliver instant dividends. These student-athletes, who build followings at anonymous institutions, like College of the Redwoods or Lackawanna College, are the fastest means for a coach to fill an immediate need.

    It makes sense. The JUCO transfer has filled out since graduating from high school, matured on and off the field, and is better suited to transition to college football’s big leagues. He also has a tighter, two or three-year window of eligibility, igniting a sense of urgency for all parties involved.

    Like Westbrook at Oklahoma or Bolles at Utah in 2016, their time is now. Their need is evident. And if you begin tossing around their names today, these JUCO imports could make you look downright telepathic by the end of September.

    Instant Impact JUCO Transfers For 2017

    15. DE Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin

    The Badgers are in the market for edge guys to help offset the losses of outside linebackers Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt. Van Ginkel could provide some answers this fall. He has a similar build to the Badgers he’s hoping to replace, and just might be a step or two faster in a straight line.

    Van Ginkel is already well-travelled, earning Missouri Valley Football Conference Freshman of the Year at South Dakota before playing for Iowa Western Community College in 2016. He’s the kind of high-motor, high-intensity guy who’ll fit in nicely in the Big Ten West.

    14. DE Michael Clemons, Texas A&M

    Clemons is still a little raw as a pass rusher, but the Aggies are willing to invest the time now that Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall have graduated, and reserve James Lockhart has transferred to Baylor.

    Clemons is very long and lean, in the mold of Hall, with the closing speed to track down quarterbacks from the backside. He’ll spend this first offseason in College Station adding muscle and honing his technique to improve his chances of becoming a four-down lineman.

    13. CB Keisean Nixon, South Carolina

    Nixon cut his football teeth playing on the West Coast in Snoop Dogg’s youth football league. Pending academic approval, he’ll continue his career clear across the country in the Southeastern Conference.

    Teams in the South, like Tennessee and Georgia, went hard after Nixon, a JUCO All-American at Arizona Western College with the size and the demeanor to play safety. Will Muschamp is looking for more dependable pass defenders on the back end after allowing 20 touchdown passes a season ago.

    12. CB Jhavonte Dean, Undecided

    Dean is one of the most coveted JUCO transfers yet to decide on a destination. The Blinn (Texas) College product recently decommitted from Alabama, fueling speculation he might wind up at Miami to be closer to his Homestead, FL home.

    As a Cane, Dean would have a chance to immediately offset the graduation of All-ACC corner Corn Elder. The speedy 6-foot-2 Dean, who signed with Cincinnati out of high school, won’t be available to his next school until the summer since he graduates from Blinn in May.

    11. TE Jeremy Patton, Arkansas

    The Razorbacks are building a reputation as a pipeline to the NFL for tight ends, so it figures Patton is firmly committed to playing for Bret Bielema. Once he gets his academics in order at Arizona Western College, he plans to follow in the footsteps of D.J. Williams, Chris Gragg, Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle as big targets for the Arkansas quarterbacks. The 6-foot-6 Patton ought to be a perfect fit in Fayetteville as the program looks to replenish Austin Allen’s corps of targets.

    10. DE Javon Kinlaw, Undecided

    Kinlaw is going to play for USC, but it won’t be known until next week whether that’s the Gamecocks or the Trojans. He committed to instate South Carolina while in high school, but a productive year at Jones County (Mississippi) Junior College rekindled interest from other programs. Kinlaw possesses the rare combination of a long frame, long arms and the light feet to pressure the pocket from strongside. Just a year removed from high school, with three seasons of eligibility left, he’s liable to hit the runway with proper coaching and conditioning.

    9. DE Chauncey Rivers, Mississippi State

    Rivers can hunt down quarterbacks, but can he stay out of trouble? His career began in Athens as a four-star recruit, but repeated marijuana arrests led to his dismissal from Georgia last spring. He spent the fall at East Mississippi Community College, tuning up with 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

    If Rivers can avoid suspensions and Dan Mullen’s doghouse, he’ll have an immediate opportunity to offset some of the lost production from the graduations of A.J. Jefferson and Johnathan Calvin.

    8. WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

    Brown made excellent use of his lone season at College of the Canyons in California. Passed over in high school, he parlayed 50 catches for 754 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016 to open up the spigot of offers, ultimately choosing the Sooners over West Virginia.

    Brown is only 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, but he can stretch the field with his speed. And in that regard, he shares similarities with the Sooner he’s hoping to replace, Dede Westbrook, who also began his career at the junior college level.

    7. WR Brandon Martin, Arkansas

    Martin is impatient when it comes to making plays and getting his hands on the ball. In that regard, he wisely chose the Razorbacks, which have a senior quarterback, Austin Allen, and a big hole at wide receiver. Martin could be first in line to succeed Keon Hatcher and Drew Morgan now that he’s finished at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The imposing 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was headed to LSU after high school, but academic issues necessitated a two-year stop at the JUCO level.

    6. OT Elliot Baker, Alabama

    Baker generated absolutely no interest in high school, despite being an athletic 6-foot-7, 295-pounder. Fortunately, City College of San Francisco has had a long history of being a stepping-stone to the FBS.

    Baker maximized his two years in junior college, both in the classroom and with the Rams, resulting in a once-unthinkable offer from the Crimson Tide. With LT Cam Robinson off to the NFL, Bama could feature an all-California bookend of Baker and gifted sophomore Jonah Williams in 2017.

    5. OT D’Marcus Hayes, Georgia

    More than just talented, the signing of Hayes also fills a pressing need in Athens. Both starting tackles, Greg Pyke and Tyler Catalina, from a year ago have graduated, so competition for jobs will be fierce this spring. Hayes will be bucking for the opening to protect QB Jacob Eason’s blindside. While the 6-6, 330-pounder is sufficiently massive and powerful, it’s the footwork and athleticism he displayed at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College that could lead to the left tackle gig.

    4. WR Stephen Guidry, LSU

    While it’s not official, Guidry is expected to become a Tiger. And that’s very good news for an offense seeking both balance to compliment RB Derrius Guice, and targets to replace Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre.

    LSU has long loved big receivers who can get behind the secondary. And Guidry has the wheels and the 6-foot-4 frame to evolve into Danny Etling’s top target in 2017. The transfer signed with McNeese State out of high school, redshirted in 2015 and then spent last fall at Hinds (Miss.) Community College.

    3. LB Gary Johnson, Texas

    Johnson will have a chance to be a transformational figure for Tom Herman’s first defense in Austin. He was an electrifying athlete at Dodge City (Kans.) Community College, targeting ballcarriers as if propelled from a cannon. While Johnson is lean for a middle linebacker, he performs with uncommon range and suddenness for a 6-foo-1, 225-pounder. If he can win the inside job in 2017, it’s gong to allow coordinator Todd Orlando to shift Malik Jefferson back to his more natural weakside position.

    2. DE Isaiah Buggs, Alabama

    Buggs sparked little interest while at Ruston (La.) High School. But after two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the offers began to pile up. He bulked up considerably, honed his technique and evolved into a dominant force at the line of scrimmage.

    The 6-5, 280-pounder is already in Tuscaloosa, preparing to compete with the likes of Da’Shawn Hand to compensate for the graduations of ends Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson. Buggs figures prominently in Nick Saban’s D this season.

    1. CB Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State

    Urban Meyer put out APBs for ready-made pass defenders, and Sheffield fortunately answered the call. All-star corners Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley left school early for the NFL Draft, leaving the Buckeyes with holes to be filled on the back end.

    Sheffield ought to hit the ground running in Columbus this season. He’s a former five-star recruit of Alabama, who redshirted in 2015 before transferring to Blinn (Tex.) College. The total package of physical ability and intangibles, Sheffield is lined up for a breakout debut season in the Big Ten.

    WATCH: Programs That Might Slide On National Signing Day

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