Pierce now poised as a recruiting paradise

DT Marquel Combs came to Pierce from Memphis, Tenn., then headed to Kansas in the Class of 2013. Courtesy Pierce College

For decades, California junior colleges have served as must-stop locations for college football coaches across the country.

From head coaches Bill Walsh and John Madden (College of San Mateo) to Hall of Fame offensive linemen Ron Yary (Cerritos College) and Larry Allen (Butte College) to current NFL standouts Aaron Rodgers (Butte College) and Jason Pierre-Paul (College of the Canyons), the juco ranks in the Golden State have produced some legendary football figures.

Los Angeles Pierce College hasn’t had much of a say in that overall success, but head coach Efrain Martinez appears to have turned things around in a big way since taking over in 2007.

After two years as an assistant coach there, Martinez took the reins and was faced with a daunting task.

“We were the worst-rated program in the state of California,” Martinez said. “So when we first started, the idea for us was that we had to be different.”

Martinez said he and his staff asked themselves what players at that stage of their careers are looking for, and came up with an answer.

“It all comes down to scholarships,” Martinez said. “So that’s when we started to work extra hard -- harder than any other coaches -- to get our guys out, because that’s the only shot we had.”