But in recent years, JUCO players have paid huge dividends to teams winning championships. Alabama used JUCO player Terrance Cody to lift their defense to a new level and a BCS Championship last year. This year, Auburn's Cam Newton was the best player in the nation and has the Tigers in the title game.
Looking over this list at Rivals.com of their all-JUCO team reveals some very prominent names in college football this season. JUCO seems to pay the biggest dividends on the defensive line where Auburn's Nick Fairley leads a wrecking crew of other all conference selections.
Even teams who have not typically recruited the JUCO ranks like Georgia are getting into the act because of the immediate impact they have seen with their rivals.
“I don’t know that there’s a re-emergence [of junior college recruiting] necessarily. I think there’s just some schools that rely on JCs more than others. It’s a matter of philosophy really.”
The Bulldogs did sign four JC transfers in 2007, however. Three of those players – defensive linemen Corvey Irvin and Jarius Wynn and offensive lineman Vince Vance – became starters and went on to NFL careers.
“We use JCs to supplement at positions where we may be deficient,” Garner said. “But we haven’t delved into it heavily. If you do that, then it changes your whole recruiting cycle. It just depends on your needs in a given year.”
The drawback to many JC players is academics as it was out of high school. Also, it can be hard to gauge how much an impact they will have when watching their performance against much lesser competition.
But as long as players like Cody and Newton have the impact they do I think programs will continue to delve more into the JUCO ranks.