COFFEYVILLE, Kan. – A rule of thumb in scouting the junior-college football ranks: Recruiters place a premium on three position groups – offensive linemen, defensive linemen and defensive backs, notably cornerbacks.
More now than at any time than he can recall in more than a decade of working at this level, Coffeyville Community College coach Aaron Flores said the major college coaches who visited his campus last spring wanted defensive linemen.
“It’s part of why we turn over every stone we can to find them,” Flores said. “Good ones are so hard to get. You scour and scour. And because they’re so hard to find, they all get (scholarship) offers.”
Flores said he’s got five defensive linemen this fall at Coffeyville whom he expects to sign to play at the next level after this season.
“Schools that came in the spring would have taken all three of those guys if they had graduated last year,” Flores said.
The other four are redshirt freshman, with three years each to play three seasons after this fall.
Burl transferred to Coffeyville from Tulane, arriving in Kansas after spring practice.
“He’s got a high motor and good speed,” Flores said of Burl. “He was voted a team captain. To impress his teammates with his work ethic in that short of a time, that says a lot about his character.”
Flores, too, is new to Coffeyville. The coach returned to the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference last December after coaching one season at Itawamba C.C. in Mississippi.
Previously, he spent 10 years as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Jayhawk Conference power Butler C.C.
At quarterback this year for Coffeyville, Flores landed A.J. Derby, a transfer from Iowa who shifted to linebacker last season for the Hawkeyes after redshirting in 2010 as a touted signee out of Iowa City High School. ESPN rated the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Derby as the No. 23 athlete in the nation two years ago.
“Great poise and great size,” Flores said of Derby. “Just really good composure. Definitely a team leader and an offensive leader. I’ve had a ton of schools calling. After they get game film on him, he’s going to have choices. There’s no doubt.”
Coffeyville’s top prospect is outside linebacker Martrell Spaight, originally from North Little, Ark. A returning junior-college All-American, Spaight has received offers from Rutgers, Arkansas State, Minnesota and Indiana.
“You’re not going to find a better team leader,” Flores said. “In all my years of doing this, he’s got the best work ethic of anyone I’ve had.”
Troy and Memphis have offered cornerback Brandon Willingham.
“Real physical,” Flores said, “and he understands our schemes well.”
Knorr is a redshirt freshman with three years to play three seasons. McLain walked on at Kansas State and played at Coffeyville last year, leaving him two years after this fall to complete his eligibility.