The junior college path can offer a second chance for recruits of various backgrounds and circumstances. But as with most academic and athletic endeavors, the player can only get out of it what he puts into it.
And while Arizona Western in Yuma, Ariz., is very accustomed to providing opportunities for student-athletes to continue their careers at four-year institutions -- 17 Matadors signed letters of intent in the most recent class -- two players in particular could have head coach Tom Minnick’s phone ringing off the hook, as they look to rebound from a previous misstep.
Tight end Cameron Clear played in 12 games as a true freshman at Tennessee last season. Clear was dismissed from Tennessee in May after being charged with felony theft. He appears to have found a fresh start at Arizona Western, which Minnick feels fortunate to provide.
“This is a great kid,” Minnick said of Clear. “He’s a no-brainer to recruit if people know he’s here. He’s special. He’s going to be an NFL kid. He’s one of those guys where you want him to be the first one off the bus.”
Clear, who checks in at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, has kept up his work in the classroom and is on pace to graduate in December and arrive on a college campus in January. At this point, Arkansas, Oklahoma and South Florida have expressed interest and he is in the process of discussing an official visit with the Sooners.
On the field, Clear will have an opportunity to work in a pro-style offense, which he said will keep his receiving and blocking skills sharp. He said he will use his time at Tennessee to his advantage, wherever he goes next.
“Being at the [FBS] level and having to go down a couple levels helped me a lot,” Clear said. “It made me realize what I have to do to be successful at that level. Hopefully I can get back on the field there and dominate.”
Few, if any, junior colleges in the country could prepare Clear to get back to the next level more effectively than Arizona Western. Clear shares a huddle with tight end Emmanuel Bibbs, who is committed to Iowa State. And he lines up across from outside linebacker/defensive end Randy Gregory, who holds offers from Arkansas and Oklahoma and is receiving heavy interest from Texas. And once he gets past Gregory, there are safeties Pat Martin -- another former Volunteer -- and Demar Dorsey to contend with.
Dorsey’s route to Arizona Western contains far more twists and turns than Clear’s. Originally a Florida verbal commitment, Dorsey signed with Michigan as the No. 12 overall player in the 2010 class. When he was not admitted to Michigan, he planned to attend Louisville, but was delayed by NCAA eligibility issues. After one season at Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College, Dorsey was scheduled to attend Hawaii for the 2012 season, but his path was diverted to Arizona Western, where, perhaps surprisingly to those that followed his recruiting process, he is thriving.
“He passed 13 hours in the summer and really took academics seriously,” Minnick said. “He was in the offices doing online classes six hours a day. We were in meetings and he’d sit in here and do his stuff. He wanted to make sure he got it done.”
Because his year at Grand Rapids delayed his academic advancement, Minnick said Dorsey will need the spring semester and perhaps the following summer, before he is ready to attend a four-year school next fall. But he was certain that once word got out that Dorsey is suiting up for the Matadors, it wouldn’t take long for schools to come calling.
“He’s pretty explosive,” Minnick said. “During one scrimmage, a back broke out the back side and Demar was up at the line of scrimmage. He turned and caught the kid. It was like he was shot out of a cannon. Some kids take a while to click and it just works out that way. He’s done a great job here.”