Lets take a look at why you should attend a Junior College or why it should be a place you at least give a look to.
The first and most major reason that the majority of top football players attend a Junior College is because of grades. They either did not have a qualifying ACT/SAT or a GPA to be able to sign a National Letter of Intent. When it is obvious that a top recruit does not have the grades to be a qualifier, Junior Colleges throughout the country show this prospect attention.
That would be the reason why an athlete from the South may end up attending a Junior College in California. Like Division I programs, Junior Colleges are looking for the best college in the country. And while they may only get the athlete for one or two years, they still want to win as many games as possible.
If you are a non qualifier for the Division I level, there are still a few other options outside of Junior College. They include going to a prep school, being a prop 48 at a Division I school, or looking at the Division II level. The NCAA is cracking down more and more on prep schools but it basically is a year away from home that prepares you for the college level. This is more prevalent in basketball than anything.
As for the prop 48, I don’t believe that is the term anymore but does not happen very often. Basically the recruit will have to pay his own way that first year and cannot practice or play with the team. Basically it would be a difficult year but if your dreams are to play at that school, it is a possibility. As for the Division II level, the difference is that they have lower requirements in terms of your grades.
The second main reason why athletes decide to play at the Junior College level in college is because they are not happy with their opportunities and want to open more doors. You may have gotten a late start to the recruiting process and play at a small school. There are any number of combinations as to why you would take this route but it just depends on an athlete.
Some athletes go through the process with Division I eyes. If that never changes and those schools don’t come knocking at your door, chances are that this athlete is going to go to the Junior College level.
It really just depends on the athlete as to what they want to do. I have seen things go great and horrible at a Junior College so it really just depends on the situation. Some athletes played at a small school in high school and ended up being a two year starter at the major college after going through the Junior College process. Others end up quitting right away because the coaching staff will normally recruit over an athlete.
Last year, I saw a signing list of the a Junior College that is known to win a lot of games. They signed over 50 kids and seemed to have more on the way. While I assume the majority of these players were All Staters in high school, the coaches know that most of them will end up quitting if they are so far down the depth chart.
We believe that all programs can provide a great education. However, You should keep your options open during the recruiting process. If that includes going to a Junior College, make the most of it and enjoy yourself. You are playing this sport because you love it.
One quick note for athletes that are full qualifiers coming out of high school. If you have the test scores/grades that a college is looking for, you can leave a Junior College after one year. If you do not have those requirements, you will likely have to stay there two years to get your AA. That is what Division I colleges will be looking for. But remember more than anything, you are going to college to get an education and set yourself up for the rest of your life. That is much more important than your Division I eyes that will only play at that level.