Recruiting junior college athletes has always been a risky venture. Using up a scholarship on a player who typically only has two years of eligibility means they have limited time to make an impact. Your team is also left with an empty roster spot in just a couple years. That higher turnover rate can also effect depth and development of the rest of the team.
There are many reasons an athlete ends up going the junior college route out of high school. A year or two to focus on grades and weights can transform someone into a much better student and or athlete.
The success of this recruiting class will largely ride on whether or not these seven junior college commits can make a big impact right away. The struggles of the Cowboy defense the last couple years are well documented and has forced the coaching staff to try and find an immediate solution with older recruits. They are happy with the offense and realize they only have two years to try and win with this offense and Brett Smith.
Wyoming will have seven junior college recruits as part of the 2013 recruiting class. Five on defense and then two more on offense. Six of the seven have already signed and are enrolled at UW. This will give them an opportunity to take part in spring drills and the spring game. The experiences in the spring practice will give those six a huge leap in learning the system and being ready to play in the fall. Those reps will be very important if they expect to make an immediate impact and help the Cowboys get back to a bowl game in 2013.
Here are the seven JUCO members of the 2013 recruiting class:
DT Troy Boyland - 6'3 295lbs College of San Mateo
With Wyoming losing it's two starting defensive tackles there was a need for help along the defensive line. Senior Patrick Mertens returns and redshirt freshmen Uso Olive looks to be a strong contender for a starting spot. With Boyland you have an upperclassmen who can add serious depth and prevent another other freshmen from having to play right away. His strong lower body will help provide some serious run stopping ability.
Boyland chose Wyoming over offers from Texas A&M and Oregon State due to the chance to enroll and play early.
TE J.D. Krill - 6'6 255lbs Saddleback CC
The addition of Krill could truly transform the Wyoming offense. For two years Dave Christensen has looked for a solid blocking tight end and Krill finally fills that spot. His ability to provide pass protection on the edge and and support for run blocking will add a whole new dimension to the Cowboys. The run game certainly struggled this year and the addition of a solid blocker like Krill will help the sophomore running backs improve. In two years he caught just 15 passes, so don't expect a lot of passes thrown his way.
Krill originally committed to Connecticut in December and then signed with Wyoming in January.
LB Jeff Lark - 6'2 230lbs Arizona Western CC
Lark hasn't gotten much press since signing with Wyoming but that doesn't mean he is a great catch. Lark was three star recruit out of high school. After attending JC powerhouse Arizona Western he chose Wyoming over an offer from Texas A&M. In eight games last year he had 39 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. With the loss of Korey Jones and Ghaali Muhammad there are two spots that Lark will be fighting for.
LB Malkaam Muhaamad - 6'0 225lbs Iowa Central CC
Malkaam should certainly be familiar to Cowboy fans. He originally committed to Wyoming out of high school in 2010 but failed to qualify academically. He went to Iowa Central where he played in 2011 and then used his redshirt in 2012. Over those two years he was able to get the grades in check and Wyoming was able to sign him once again. He is also well known since he is the younger brother of Wyoming senior LB Ghaali Muhammad. Will Malkaam fill the spot that big brother Ghaali held last year? Great to see a family
C Albert Perez - 6'1 285lbs East LA College
Perez is the lone JC player that isn't already enrolled in classes at Wyoming. He will sign on February 6th and then enroll this summer. Perez will be looking to fill the big shoes left by Nick Carlson who held down the starting center spot for three years. He played in a similar spread offense at East LA. 24/7 Sports has Perez rated as the #1 JC center in the 2013 class.
DB Jesse Sampson - 6'1 200lbs College of the Canyons
When Luke Ruff was denied his 6th year of eligibility it mean that the Cowboys lost a veteran leader in the secondary. In comes Sampson who look to add some experience and depth to a unit that was beaten and battered last year. It will be interesting to see if Sampson can make an impact this spring and earn himself some playing time. He wasn't heavily recruited with his only other offer coming from FCS Stony Brook.
LB Jordan Stanton - 6'2 250lbs Pierce CC
With Stanton the Pokes are adding some serious size to their linebacker corp. At 250lbs he will be the largest linebacker on the team. Out of high school Stanton had an offer from Minnesota but that disappeared when the Gophers fired their head coach Tim Brewster. The chance at early playing time was a big factor for Stanton who looks to take Korey Jones' WILL spot.
SUCCESS IN THE PAST
Overall Wyoming has done fairly with recruiting junior college players under Coach Christensen. Not all have made an immediate impact like Korey Jones but they have helped for sure. Last year the Pokes signed three JC players and they all ended up redshirting. Luke Anderson and Zach Rushing from the 2011 class both played well as juniors but dealt with injuries in their senior year. In 2010 Wyoming signed a pair of defensive tackles from New Mexico Military Institute. They both redshirted their first year but Kurt Taufa'asua and B.J. Sumter were both able make contributions in the two season afterwards. Big Kurt was a big contributor on the defensive line this year.
With the emphasis that Wyoming put on recruiting junior college players this year it is vital that a majority of these players step up and play right away. Bringing in older players who redshirt and won't help in 2013 does little to help the Cowboys win now. After all the issues in 2012 a winning record is what Coach Christensen needs to help turn the page.
Which of these seven do you see making the biggest impact in 2013? Will this gamble payoff for the Pokes?