Programs looking to add experience and depth to their roster often turn to the JUCO ranks for players who could make an immediate impact. Here's a look at five sleeper JUCO recruits to keep an eye on.
Eluemunor holds an offer from FSU.
1 – Sam Wren, SDE, Yuma (Ariz.) Arizona Western C.C.
Scouting report – The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Wren is a bigger defensive end but he is a surprisingly good pass rusher. He has a very quick burst off the ball that gives opposing offensive tackles headaches. He also does a good job of playing the run and keeping containment on the outside. The most impressive aspect of his game, though, is his non-stop motor. On film he chases runners down from the backside and never seems to give up on plays. He tallied 10.5 sacks in his first seven games this year.
Eyeball test – Wren has grown into his frame in his two-and-a-half years at Arizona Western. Originally from East Texas, he was a skinny pass-rusher at Palestine High School. He was generously listed at 220 pounds as a senior. Now he is has the strength to hold up against the run.
Recruiting nuggets – Wren was actually previously committed to Texas State as the Bobcats were the first team truly on him. He committed after an official visit in early October but has since opened his recruitment back up. A December grad with two to play two, he is still looking at Texas State in addition to Houston and Oregon State.
2 – Jermaine Eluemunor, OT, Scranton (Pa.) Lackawanna C.C.
Scouting report – The 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive lineman is actually brand new to the game of football. In fact, this is only his second year ever playing the sport. Eluemunor is originally from England and had not really been around the sport at all until moving to New Jersey late in high school. He is still a bit raw, as would be expected, but he has long arms that enable him to hold defenders at bay. He also shows a mean streak that coaches like to see. He needs to stay lower at times but his athleticism is off the charts for a player his size.
Eyeball test – Eluemunor is long and lean at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds. He has never been in a true weight program so he has plenty of room to grow into his frame. With a redshirt year still available, he could use it at his next destination to both get stronger and learn the nuances of the position.
Recruiting nuggets – Florida State has several international players on its roster and it’s likely that Eluemunor becomes the next one. The Seminoles are his only offer so far but others will likely join the mix in the very near future. Still, Florida State will be tough to beat in this race.
Short will visit Kansas this weekend.
3 – Kevin Short, CB, Fort Scott (Kan.) C.C.
Scouting report – Short is a bigger cornerback at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. While some may think about moving him to safety, he is actually very good in man coverage. He has recorded five interceptions each of the last two years. He is physical and makes it tough for opposing receivers to get off the line of scrimmage. He comes down and plays the run well too. In addition, Short is one of the top return men in the junior college ranks. He returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns this year.
Eyeball test – Short is not the typical junior college defensive back that is listed as much bigger than he actually is. He truly looks the part of 6-foot-2 in person. He actually looks like a safety until you watch him out wide matched up with speedy receiver and he more than holds his own. He was one of the few bright spots on a Fort Scott team that had a down year in 2012.
Recruiting nuggets – Originally from the St. Louis area, Short is hearing from a number of Big Ten programs. However, he has set up an official visit this weekend to Kansas along with teammates Demetrius Hill and Marceice Jackson and the Jayhawks could be the team to beat.
4 – Zane Petty, S, Sacramento (Calif.) American River C.C.
Scouting report – The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Petty signed with Colorado State out of high school and spent one year in Fort Collins before heading the junior college route. Since then he has been one of the most productive players in California. In 10 games this season he has totaled 86 tackles and six interceptions. He simply has a knack for reading the quarterback and jumping routes for picks. He is the team’s leading tackler as well as he does a great job coming downhill and finding the runner.
Eyeball test – Petty has added about 10 pounds since his high school days at Corning (Calif.) High but he still remains quick for his size. He does not need to get any bigger or he might risk losing the speed that helps him be so good in pass coverage.
Recruiting nuggets – With two years to play two, Petty’s recruitment has not really started to pick up for some reason. Illinois did recently become the first team to offer but it is his only one so far. The Illini are the leaders by default but if a West Coast school were to become involved, they would be hard to beat.
5 – De’Marieya Nelson, TE, Stockton (Calif.) San Joaquin Delta C.C.
Scouting report – At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Nelson is actually more of an H-back than a true tight end. He does a little bit of everything for San Joaquin and has shown to be an excellent pass-catcher, runner and blocker. He is the team’s leading rusher this year with 461 yards and five touchdowns on 88 carries and has also caught 24 passes for 205 yards and two scores. He is mostly used as a checkdown outlet in the passing game but is effective in getting first downs.
Eyeball test – Nelson does not have a true position but he is a master of many trades. A lot of schools are utilizing tight ends that are his size and building plays around their skillsets. He may not be huge and isn’t going to be a big help as an inline tight end but he is still dangerous in that H-back role.
Recruiting nuggets – Nelson has been one of the hottest prospects in California as of late, picking up offers from the likes of Fresno State, Memphis, Nevada and Western Michigan. However, it is Texas Tech that currently leads for his signature.