Wisconsin dipped into the junior college ranks again over the weekend, signing defensive back T.J. Reynard to the Class of 2013. Reynard became the third JUCO transfer to join Gary Andersen's first recruiting class, alongside quarterback Tanner McEvoy and safety Donnell Vercher.
Once upon a time, "JUCO" was considered a dirty word by some. Academic risks and problem children often transferred to two-year schools in hopes of regaining a scholarship offer to a DI program. That's still the case to some extent, but the talent available in junior colleges is also undeniable. Of the 24 JUCO transfers drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, seven landed in the first round.
Five of those first-rounders were considered 3-star prospects or worse. Lane Johnson went No. 4 overall despite not earning a rating from any of the major recruiting services. That's fair, considering he was an okay 202-pound quarterback when he signed with Oklahoma, not a 300-plus, hyper-athletic left tackle. The point still stands that there is a lot of talent waiting to be mined by coaches who can scout
Andersen clearly believes in the potential of junior college players, perhaps as immediate contributors. Vercher and Reynard are much-needed in the secondary, and McEvoy may be Wisconsin's starting quarterback next season. How well those three players pan out may be our first real indication of Andersen's eye for talent.
Tom Oates says Big Ten football needs to be like basketball and hire better coaches who recruit better players that go on and do impressive things in the NFL. This is probably true.
Football Outsiders projects Wisconsin to go 10-2 next season, but finish No. 2 in the division behind Ohio State.
Lois Levanhagen sews band pants, and makes everything turn, if you really think about it.
Wrapping up: Where does Tim Beckman play football?