by David Brox, firstname.lastname@example.org
It would be a bit irresponsible for me not to follow up on my post about the Kansas JUCO football teams. I generated a bit of conversation on the topic and this is going to be blunt for all involved.
I will start with the feeling that the rules as they were written were racially motivated. By limiting or not promoting out of state athletes Kansas were racists trying to keep black people out of Kansas JUCOs back in 1962. I am going to be raw because that is essentially the argument. The belief that if you go out of the state of Kansas that you are going to get black kids and bring them into the state.
This is entirely possible at the time but I would be remise to call the rule racism in any sense in 2017 considering the number of minority students in Kansas. Black students were put in vans from KCK for years to go visit JUCOs to sign and meet requirements. I remember back in 2010 when I first started following the area there would be names of individuals signing that made zero sense to me. They obviously never made the roster but were certainly not excluded. The end result of this rule change affects ANY Kansas high school football player so this argument is near absurd.
NOTE: This is 100% my opinion and thoughts at the time and you are welcome to call me out. My thoughts were that they had to reach certain numbers of Kansas players. Perhaps they got some type of state funding based on the number of kids signed from the state. They hit campus get enrolled and then weeded out at tryouts and JUCOs got the money for the program and kids sent back home. It was the only thing I could come up with to rationalize some of the players that were signed as only a fraction would make the team.
I would tell players year after year who would sign JUCO that they had to start working right away. Signing did NOT guarantee them a spot on the roster and they had to work harder than ever but in most cases trying to teach a dog new tricks was not going to work at that point. It is the same principle on ACT scores. If you are a junior or senior taking the ACT for the first time with no commitment to it since middle school then your results will speak. I will say this until I am blue in the face. If you have less than an 18 on your ACT as a senior then I feel not even prayer is going to move that number enough and your only option is attending JUCO. I get it, that sounds harsh but I need to be harsh on this conversation only to emphasis how important it that test and score is in this process.
Here are the new requirements to attend a JUCO:
You must be fringe FCS or FBS Division 1 talent and size that didn’t sign OR didn’t qualify to sign.
This clicked with me when I reached out to Basehor-Linwood who had 0 JUCO signings. An 11-1 team that made it to the semi-finals of 4A with D1 talent on the squad to come watch signed 0. They got one email from one Kansas JUCO asking if they had any D1 talent that didn’t get signed.
Piper Pirates had one signing this year in Micaiah Noel who is a 6’3 260 lineman who signed with Coffeyville.
Bishop Miege with 2 players attending Notre Dame and a powerhouse had 0 JUCO players.
Mill Valley back to back state championships didn’t get a single visit or contact from JUCO about their players.
The argument I got back was that Kansas High School coaches were disrespectful to JUCO recruiters. Let me say very specifically that I know Mill Valley, Piper and Basehor-Linwood coaches and consider them to be friends. I would put my name out there for each of them in saying they are not discouraging any contact from any JUCO college. The JUCOs just put focus else where thus my comment that they turned their back on Kansas or maybe I should say Kansas City.
So I stand by my statement that JUCOs did in fact turn their back on an old system. An old system that won a national championship using it but perhaps they feel in spite of it.
Maybe we all need to draw a bit more focus on the Noel signing at Piper because with this new standard his signing could prove to be very rare and a good path forward for him to get to a 4 year school.
For KCK players this is a wake up call. No more can you say that you will just go to a JUCO. No more can we ignore your ACT scores because you can fall back on a JUCO. No more can you have a poor GPA and fall back on a JUCO. Neil Ruff’s dedication and work ethic needs to become the standard for any student that wishes to play college football at any level. Education becomes even more paramount in trying to secure that opportunity.
I have some ideas on things that can be done. ACT prep needs to start with incoming freshman. Facilities on KCK schools need a dramatic over haul. If Mill Valley, Basehor and Piper are getting no looks with their strength and conditioning programs you can rest assured that KCK is not even a blip on the radar. Training standards and dedication must be taught from the middle schools on up.
The crutch of JUCO’s is gone and while this does have a direct impact on many Kansas kids getting an opportunity it is also a chance for all of us to get better. Exploring JUCOs outside of Kansas being the first step in that process. I welcome all JUCO from the surrounding area to reach out to me as I would be happy to share stories with you about some hard working kids that can make a difference for your teams.