Kansas State has made a habit of improving its football team each season through early junior college signings, and Arizona State followed suit in December, adding six midyear junior college signees.
UNLV, which went 3-9 last season under first-year coach Tony Sanchez and had chances to win several other games, has adopted the same approach, adding a school-record eight junior college players in December who are slated to start school Tuesday and take part in spring practices from March 7 to April 9.
“We’re not that far away. We had a very competitive season last year,” Sanchez said. “We didn’t get the wins we wanted, but when you look at nine games, you win three of them and the other six you’re within seven points in the fourth quarter. The gap is not as big as you might think.
“Some of the junior college guys are just older, they’re more mature, they’ve competed at a higher level, and they’re going to be able to make a mature impact right away. Some of the younger guys are going to make an impact, but it’s just going to be a learning curve there.
“Getting those (junior college) guys in the spring and teaching them the system is going to help us get over the hump. And, quite frankly, I’m sure we’re always going to bring in a handful of junior college guys.”
Quarterback Johnny Stanton is the headliner of the junior college signees. Here’s a look at the other seven, with Sanchez’s scouting report on each player.
Brian Keyes, middle linebacker (6-1, 245, Scottsdale, Ariz., Community College): “He is an absolute stud,” Sanchez said. “He started his career at the University of Arizona, played at Scottsdale and led them to a big bowl win. He’s a big, strong, physical guy who’s going to come in and add immediate competition to that Mike spot.”
Robert Jackson, cornerback (6-2, 205, College of the Sequoias, Visalia, California): “We wanted to get bigger at the corner spot, and we got bigger. He adds a real physical presence and, being an older guy, he’ll have confidence to come in and play at that spot.”
Michael Adams, safety (6-2, 210, Laney College, Oakland, California): “He’s a very, very physical, big safety. He gets downhill and fills in the run game, and he’s dynamic on special teams. He blocked a lot of punts and did some really good things.”
Tim Holt, tight end (6-2, 230, Fullerton , California, College): “He’s a very athletic kid. He’s a hybrid. We can line him up on the line or at the fullback position, or we can split him out wide. He’s a moving piece. He’s going to really put defenses in a bind.”
Trevor Kanteman, tight end (6-4, 240, Pierce College, Los Angeles): “He’s a bigger version of Tim (Holt). He’s got great hands, he can stretch the seam, and he can be a great in-line blocker. Those two guys, along with (junior tight end) Andrew Price, give us now what we need. We want to be able to use fullbacks and multiple tight ends and personnel groups. Those three will give us some of the packages we just couldn’t utilize enough (last season).”
Michael Chevalier, guard (6-3, 300, San Diego Mesa College): “He’s an older, physical guy. We’ve got to get heavier. Last year, we were so light there and a little inexperienced. Being a junior college guy, he’ll be able to come in the spring, learn the offense and be an immediate contributor.”
Malik Dumetz, wide receiver (6-3, 215, American River College, Sacramento, California): “He’s a really athletic kid who can do a lot of different things. He’s going to be a great special teams player and is going to add depth at wide receiver.”
— Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33