The Juco Route is Here to Stay

One thing that is always talked about is the JuCo Route. From how well it works, to it is the best option for many, to a restart for others. Also there is the Stigma that is “D1 or Bust”, “If i go Juco i won’t go D1 ”, “You can’t get seen at Jucos” ext. Well this piece is here to show you how wrong those statements can be.

Braden Oltoff – Palomar, Golden Spikes Watch List, Walker Burchfield – Hinds, Haydan Hastings – Palomar, Trevor Minder – Parkland, and Luis Aviles – Wallace-Dothan all started fo Tulane Opening Day

Texas A&M Friday Night Starter Bryce Miller – Blinn

TCU Friday Night Starter Johnny Ray  – John A. Logan


This past week (Feb. 19th-21st), was the NCAA Division 1 Opening weekend. Over the past few years we have put out our “Former Junior College guys to Watch”, “Junior College Recruiting Classes” and other pieces of content that show who is going to have junior college guys. This however combines both of those and is going to answer the question “How Many Former Junior College Athletes Played Opening Weekend at the Division 1 Level?”. And Honestly this was not what i expected when i set out to find this answer. And that is in a good way.

Illinois-Chicago Friday Night Starter Tanner Shears – Modesto

Loyola Marymount DH/#2 Pitcher Jimmy Galicia 2020 2-Way JBB Player of the Year – El Camino


First to answer that exact question ,give or take a few, the number of former junior college players is a staggering 973. 973 Former Junior College Players spanning all 3 major junior college athletic bodies (NJCAA, CCCAA, and NWAC) Played Division one baseball opening weekend.

Oklahoma State 1st hit for the 2021 Season off Jake Thompson’s bat – Palomar

Oklahoma State Starting 3B and 2-time 1st Team JBB All-American Christian Encarnacion-Strand – Yavapai

 


Those 973 Players represent 300 different Junior College institutions. With the Top 5 being #2. Florence-Darlington Tech (13), #2. Wabash Valley (13), #2. Jefferson (MO) (13), #2 Weatherford (13), and #1 San Jac (20). The complete list is below.

2020 JBB Player of the Year Brady Slavens – Johnson County

Braydon Webb – Grayson


In those three days, over 150 schools had at least 1 game over this span. Those teams spanned 29 Conferences all of which had at least 1 Former Junior College Player. Below will be the complete list, but the Top 5 Conferences with the most Junior College players goes as followed #5. Big South (56), #4. Ohio Valley (56), #3 WAC (62), #2. Sun Belt (84), and #1. Southland (91). Yes, those 5 are all what many would call “Mid-Majors” but if you have followed the 2021 College Baseball season to this point you know those “Mid-Majors” are good and making a lot of noise. Of the “Power 5” Conferences the SEC has the most Former Junior College Players with 55 which comes in at 6th overall. 

David Mendham – Connors State, Jeff Heinrich – McHenry, and George Callil – McLennan all startin on the opening day South Carolina Roster

Dylan Neuse McLennan


When looking at the teams that had the most Former Junior College Players. This was interesting. The top 5 went as follows #4 UL-Lafayette (16) #4. Campbell (16) #3. South Alabama (17) #1. Houston Baptist (19), #1. UT-Rio Grande Valley (19). What got fun was when we looked at a few of the teams single day rosters. 2 Different teams in single games played with all but at most 2 players having junior college ties. Those were UT-Rio Grande Valley who played 17 with 15 having Junior College Ties, and Houston Baptist playing 13 with 12 having Junior College ties.

McClain O’Connor starting SS – Lassens

UL-Lafayette Started 7 of 9 Junior College Players their opening day Kevin Fitzgerald (3B) San Joaquin Delta, Sam Riola (SS) Iowa Western, Nick Hagerdorn (C) Jefferson (MO), Jonathan Brandon (2B) Murray State, Tyler Robertson (CF) Shelton State, Connor Kimple (DH) South Mountain, Conor Angel (SP) Northwest Florida State


One thing that is awesome about numbers is that they can not lie. When looking at what is all above please ask yourself these questions “If i go to a junior college is my D1 Dream Over?”, “If i go to a Junior College can i play major “Power 5” Division 1 Baseball?”, and so on.. If you do not know what the answer to those questions are then you need to relook at those numbers. Do these numbers say that if you go to a Junior College you will automatically end up going division 1? Not. But do these numbers show you that if you go the Junior College route you still have a Huge chance at still fulfilling those dreams you might have? You better believe it. 

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