The JUCO way to go

Looking at the rise in Junior College transfer


Kelly VanDrisse / Dakota Student

Hayden Galvin (left) and Lenny Nelson (right) recently transferred to the UND football program from junior colleges around the country.

John Gregg, Sports writer

In recent years, it’s become a norm for many student athletes to be recruited out of high school and receive offers to attend various schools to play their sport. For some, the non-conventional route can be a good decision for their careers for many reasons whether it be academic or physical.

Junior college (JUCO), allows student athletes an opportunity to expand the possibilities available to them and can be the best decision many recruits can make before going on to Division I programs.

“The JUCO route may be the road less traveled by elite recruits, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable or legitimate,” Bleacher Report’s Andrew Kulha said. “In fact, in some cases it’s the smartest choice a recruit can make.”

Many of the NFL’s top stars got their start by going the JUCO route including Aaron Rodgers, LeGarrette Blount and Cam Newton.

“Some recruits just need a year or two to work things out and prepare for D-I football, whether it be because of the physical or academic demands of the big-time college level and in many cases, it ends up maturing said recruit and working in their favor,” Kulha said.

During the offseason, the Fighting Hawks football team received multiple junior college recruits that are sure to contribute to the team’s success. Hayden Galvin, a sophomore Safety from West Lake, California is eager to hit the field for the Hawks.

Recruited from Moorpark College in Moorpark, California, Galvin had plenty of success in his time as a two-year starter. He was second on the team in tackles with 64 for the Raiders and was also named to the Southern California Football Association All-Conference First Team Northern League National Division.

“The coaches expressed interest in my play and I thought that UND football was a program that I could be successful in and help the team win,” Galvin said.

Another player joining the Hawks is Leonard (Lenny) Nelson a redshirt Sophomore defensive back from Sacramento, California. After graduating high school in 2015, Nelson attended American River Junior College and started both years he played.

“It was a struggle in the sense of playing every game like it was my last. I’ve always had the dream of going D1 so every day I went into a workout, practice or game like it could be my last,” Nelson said.

Lenny’s dedication showed. He was named to the Northern California Football All-Conference Team and had an impressive 39 tackles and six interceptions.

“I declined an offer to a Division II school for football,” Nelson said when asked why he went the JUCO route. “I felt that I could grow more as a person and felt that I was slept on. My family and friends agreed, I used it as motivation.”

While the season is still months away, Fighting Hawks Football fans have plenty of new talent to look forward to and Galvin and Nelson are sure to be bright spots in the lineup. Both are excited to be a part of the UND community and get to business with the team.

“I love it here so far; the people are great, just a little cold compared to home. Actually a lot colder but other than that I feel great to be here in Grand Forks,” Nelson said.

John Gregg is a sports writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]