Bay Area schools only now tapping pipeline

With Danville residents Sam Keller and Kyle Wright starting at quarterback for national powers Nebraska and Miami (Fla.), respectively, and Salesian High School of Richmond graduate Jahvid Best electrifying fans as a dynamic freshman running back at Cal, it’s clear to see that Bay Area high schools have a bevy of talented football players ready to perform on a national collegiate level.

But it’s not just the local high schools in the Bay Area that are producing droves of Division I players. The nearby community colleges, including City College of San Francisco and the College of San Mateo, have been equally instrumental in breeding talented athletes for Division I programs — but only recently have the big-time Bay Area schools taken notice.

“There has been national awareness about our program for a while,” said CCSF coach George Rush, whose 2006 team featured 20 players who moved up to Division I-A or I-AA schools. “But it wasn’t until Jeff Tedford arrived at Cal did we really have the local Pac-10 schools looking at us. Jeff did a tremendous job of changing the perceived image of what a junior college football player is supposed to be.”

Since arriving in Berkeley in 2002, Tedford has rung up a career record of 45-20, due in large part to the talents of community college transfers, including two from CCSF — quarterback Joe Ayoob and linebacker Desmond Bishop, a 2007 draft pick of the Green Bay Packers.

And while not quite on the national awareness level as Cal, San Jose State, led by third-year coach Dick Tomey, has also benefited greatly from the influx of transfers.

Leaning heavily on the talents of juco players (the Spartans have 22 JC transfers on their roster, including three from CSM), Tomey helped engineer a six-game turnaround from 2005 to ’06, resulting in the Spartans’ first bowl appearance since 1990.

Whereas Tedford and Tomey have dipped frequently into the pool of athletes in the local community colleges, Stanford has neglected to take part in that recruiting process.

“I’m not sure if it’s academic elitism or whatever, but Stanford just doesn’t have the belief that community college kids can handle the rigors of their classes,” Rush said.

He cited an instance in which Stanford showed no interest in then-CCSF quarterback Zac Lee, despite having high SAT scores while studying at St. Ignatius High School. He ended up at Nebraska, backing up Keller.

Tedford said recruiting jucos has been a win-win situation.

“Our community college players have helped us out tremendously here,” Tedford said. “It’s not just on the field, either. They’re succeeding academically and they’ve got outstanding character. All of the community college transfers we’ve had here have been great guys.”

One of those “great guys” Tedford cites is Lavelle Hawkins, a senior wide receiver who suited up for CCSF for a year in 2004 — an experience he credits with preparing him for the big-time athletics of Division I football.

“It was a huge help playing at CCSF and lining up against some D-I opponents every week,” said Hawkins, who leads the Bears with 12 catches for 133 yards and passed the 1,000-yard mark for his career last weekend. “It did take about a year to get adjusted to all the different plays they have at Cal, but as far as the academics and everything else, it was the same as always for me — you just gotta stay focused and make sure you take care of your business.”

Building blocks

The three Bay Area Division I football teams vary greatly in how they use junior college transfers.


Coach: Jim Harbaugh

Juco transfers on roster: 0


Coach: Jeff Tedford

Juco transfers on roster: 9

San Jose State

Coach: Dick Tomey

Juco transfers on roster:22

Proving ground

Junior colleges such as CCSF and CSM offer a path to better opportunities for football players.

» MONDAY: The history behind CCSF and CSM

» TUESDAY: Junior college provides second chances

» WEDNESDAY: Plethora of teams means state stands alone

» TODAY: How do the big boys use jucos?

» FRIDAY: Making it all the way to the NFL

Other Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco Police stand guard outside the Mission Police Station during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fired: California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

By Robert Lewis CalMatters On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena… Continue reading

The Giants and Dodgers face each other again following a May series the Dodgers swept; Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux caught stealing by Giants second baseman Donovan Solano at Oracle Park on May 23 is pictured. 
Chris Victorio/
Special to The Examiner
Giants vs. Dodgers: What you need to know before this week’s huge series

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner That grinding noise you’ll hear… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that state employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and wear masks. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
California orders vaccine or testing for health care workers, state employees

By Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters Amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases and… Continue reading

Jeremy Kahn and Monica Ho are excellent in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Lauren Yee’s “The Song of Summer,” being presented live and online. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)
Touching relationship at heart of ‘Song of Summer’

Lighthearted SF Playhouse show ‘feels right for this moment’

Most Read