With the period for JUCO transfers to sign with their respective schools beginning on Dec. 14, teams are in a late dash to add key pieces to their rosters. Think of it as college football’s version of free agency.
The SEC has benefited when it comes to adding JUCO players who would go on to star in the conference.
We break down some of the SEC’s best JUCO transfers during the last decade.
10. SS Justin Evans, Texas A&M
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Class of 2015)
Evans was a first-team All-Mississippi Community College Athletic Conference player before Auburn, Georgia and Ole Miss came knocking for his services. The strong safety settled on Texas A&M, where he’s registered 163 tackles and 5 interceptions in two seasons.
9. RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College (Class of 2015)
After eschewing Alabama, Kamara became one of the most coveted JUCO transfers while starring for Hutchinson. The tailback chose Tennessee, where he’s rushed for 1,263 yards and 16 touchdowns in 23 games. Whether he’ll be back on Rocky Top for his senior year or off to the NFL will be determined soon.
8. RB Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn
Allan Hancock College (Class of 2013)
Prior to arriving at Auburn, Artis-Payne was an All-American and California JUCO Player of the Year at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Calif. The running back kept that success going with the Tigers, where he got a chance to start his senior year. Artis-Payne did not disappoint, garnering 1,608 yards, 13 touchdowns and first-team All-SEC honors for Gus Malzahn’s squad.
7. WR Demetrius Byrd, LSU
Pearl River Community College (Class of 2007)
Byrd’s transfer to LSU paid dividends when he snagged the game-winning pass from Matt Flynn as time expired to beat Auburn in 2007. Byrd finished his two-year stint in Baton Rouge with 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a member of the Tigers’ 2008 BCS title-winning team.
6. QB Nick Marshall, Auburn
Garden City (Kan.) Community College (Class of 2011)
One of four JUCO players on this list to thrive at Auburn, Marshall found a home with the Tigers after being booted from Georgia and reinventing himself at Garden City. Marshall is best known for burning his former Georgia teammates with the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare,” which was followed up by the stunning Iron Bowl upset of Alabama en route to the BCS title game.
5. WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Hutchinson (Kan) C.C. (Class of 2012)
After two years at Hutchinson, Patterson brought his All-America talent to the Volunteers. In one season on Rocky Top, the speedy Patterson posted 10 touchdowns (split between rushing, receiving, punt and kick returns) en route to breaking Reggie Cobb’s program record for all-purpose yards with 1,858.
4. QB Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
East Mississippi Community College (Class of 2015)
Kelly arrived in Oxford with plenty of questions hanging over his head, after an inglorious exit from Clemson. The nephew of Jim Kelly wound up at East Mississippi, where he led the Lions to an NJCAA National Football Championship. It may not have ended the way he planned at Ole Miss (season-ending right knee injury, off-the-field issues), but it’s difficult to argue against 6,800 yards and 50 touchdowns in two seasons.
3. DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Class of 2007)
Fairley didn’t make many fans outside of Auburn or Wesson, Miss., where he attended community college. But the defensive tackle was among the most feared in the game, guiding Auburn to a BCS Championship almost single-handedly with 5 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in the title game against Oregon. Fairley was selected as the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year for a senior campaign that saw him ring up 24 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.
2. DT Terrance Cody, Alabama
Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. (Class of 2008)
Cody racked up an impressive array of awards during his collegiate career, beginning in 2007 as a JUCO first-team All-American at Mississippi Gulf Coast. At Alabama, the defensive tackle was a unanimous All-American in helping to lead the Crimson Tide to a BCS title in 2010. In two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Cody finished with 52 tackles, including 10.5 for loss.
1. QB Cam Newton, Auburn
Blinn (Texas) College (Class of 2010)
Newton is arguably the best JUCO transfer to land in the SEC. After an inauspicious ending to his tenure in Florida, Newton attended Blinn College in Texas, where he led the Buccaneers to an NJCAA National Football Championship. He kept that magic going at Auburn, leading the Tigers to a BCS title against Oregon courtesy of a 2,854-yard, 30-touchdown senior campaign.