GRCC’s newest players Anthony Hamm and Chevin Davis are fresh off the plane from Daytona Beach, Florida. Without knowing much about Michigan or anyone here, they are having settling in just fine although having some trouble adjusting to the change in weather. Rest assured they are ready to practice and prepare for a championship.
“The weather is the most annoying. We need to warm up to it and do some shopping,” said Hamm.
Davis is listed as a 6-foot tall, 175-pound wide receiver and Hamm is a 6 foot 2” linebacker.
Both out of Mainland High School’s 2010 class Davis and Hamm signed National Letters of Intent to four-year universities. Hamm signed a National Letter of Intent to Florida A&M. Davis along with three other players from their class including Ricardo Allen and OJ Ross who were both ranked in the top 50 on Rivals.com, signed to Purdue.
GRCC Coach Mike Annese contacted Hamm and Davis through Facebook this November, just before GRCC’s appearance in the 2010 Mississippi Bowl. By the start of Winter Semester on January 7, both players were moved in and signed up for classes.
Hamm and Davis aren’t alone as new transfers to GRCC this January. Football Coach Bart Estola estimated that 30 to 40 new players transferred this semester. Recruiting is in full swing at GRCC. The Coaches are busy working with high school recruits, new transfers, transferring current players and always preparing for another successful season.
The first Wednesday in February signifies a very important day in college sports, National Signing Day. This is the first day that a high school senior can sign a National Letter of Intent for college sports. This day proves to be the culmination of recruiting efforts for coaches, players and universities, with hopes of signing the best players for their program. At GRCC the Raider Football program works day in and day out continuing to recruit the best players.
At the current peak time of recruiting, Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Tim Johnson receives more then 50 films per week of potential players from all over the country. There are also numerous road trips to visit kids at their high school all over the state and country. The GRCC coaches are also bombarded with emails from high school coaches trying to promote their players to the next level. The GRCC coaches are on the phone with players, parents and coaches until late hours each night trying to do their part for every player. The coaches also hold open tryouts on campus seeing an average of 400 players in three days. In addition to videos, emails and phone calls, some potential players and parents walk right into the football office without and appointment asking to be a part of the program at GRCC.
“We are more successful, so there are more names running through our desk. A lot more. It is a big challenge to handle the workload with so many kids that are interested,” says Head Coach Tony Annese.
With all the contact between schools, coaches and players there are definite rules and regulations to comply to. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) does its best to protect both the high school players and universities. The NJCAA Handbook and Casebook outlines specific guidelines for recruiting, official visits, off campus recruiting, contact, transfer policies, eligibility and letters of intent.
The NJCAA Compliance Book on Eligibility Rules defines recruiting as, “any solicitation of a prospect of a prospect’s relatives (or legal guardian) by an institutional staff member or by a representative of the institution’s athletics interests for the purpose of securing the prospect’s enrollment and ultimate participation in the institution’s intercollegiate athletic program.”
The NJCAA Compliance Exam goes on to discuss specifics for campus visits, “Potential players are allowed to attend one official visit to campus paid for by the institution and may not exceed two days and two nights. The institution is allowed to pay for the round trip transportation for the prospect as well as meals and entertainment.”
Besides recruitment policies and letter of intent regulations, the NJCAA outlines policies for transfer students. The NJCAA Handbook and Casebook defines transfer students as “student athletes that have attended any college beyond the first 15 days of a term or have participated in an athletic contest and at a later date enroll and attend classes at another college. Students transferring from a NJCAA member college are either immediately eligible upon transfer or must serve a probationary period.”
While many four year universities have the ability to recruit only certain positions and take an average of 25 new players per year. At GRCC there are only two classes of players. They recruit all positions and take at least 50 new players per year.
GRCC has received many players through transferring. Last season quarterback James Stallons transferred from University of Wisconsin and this January quarterback Cody Kater transferred to GRCC from University of Cincinnati.
Johnson explained some of policies and timing of players that transfer, “A players clock starts the minute they enter division one football. If they transfer to a junior college their clock still runs, but they can play without sitting out a year. They have five years in college to play four years of football.”
While players transfer for many different reasons, GRCC has a lot of positive benefits for student athletes besides a successful program.
“We offer a great city, great campus, great education and academic program. We sell the fact that we try to help kids be successful in a disciplined program,” says Annese of Grand Rapids and GRCC.
Besides offering great academic programs Johnson believes that recruiting is also about building relationships with players.
“Kids have a goal to play division one athletics, as a coach you can’t bust their bubble. If that doesn’t work out and kids have to re-evaluate where they’re going, we’re here and help kids get here. We can offer an opportunity. When they have doors shut and then are given an opportunity to play here and get their academics right, the doors can open back up,” says Johnson.
Although new players Hamm and Davis didn’t take the usual route of recruitment through official campus visits or knowing other players, they are fully prepared to embrace the program at GRCC with discipline and a goal of success.
While Hamm and Davis didn’t play football at Florida A&M or Purdue despite their Letters of Intent they still have expressed a goal to get back into a big program like Florida State or Oregon.
“We’re trying to get a ring, then transfer to a big school. We have a new attitude to bring to the team. We’re more focused and competitive. We’re here for business,“ said Hamm and Davis.