The high school football season ended several months ago, but several seniors at are still finalizing their college plans.
Raiders athletic director and head football coach Tom Green said on Tuesday that three Raider defensive backs — Donte Williams, Jairus Cook and Howard Wilder — are headed to junior college programs.
Williams is headed to ASA College, a two-year program in New York City, while Cook and Wilder are headed to the same junior college in California. Green said that running back/cornerback Rahn Fisher may end up going the JUCO route as well, but is currently undecided.
“A lot of times the kids qualify for Division II or Division III,” Green said, “but they want a shot at going big-time, so instead of going to a smaller school, they’ll go JUCO and try to get an opportunity to play and get a bigger offer, and I understand and respect that. If you feel like you have that potential, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Cook, Wilder and Williams are the latest group of Roosevelt players to find college homes. Receiver Nigel Christian is attending Division III Albright (Pa.) College, linebacker Dominique Daniels committed to Division I-AA Bucknell (Pa.) University in January, and fellow linebacker Cody Acker accepted a scholarship from D-II Morgan State University in February.
“I think coaches get too much credit when kids get scholarships and they get too much blame when they don’t, you know what I mean?" Green said. "The kids play the biggest role in the process of getting a scholarship with what they do academically and what they do on the field. It means a lot, especially to the younger kids. They see what can happen if you do what you’re supposed to do.”
The Raiders have a tradition of sending players to the college ranks — and beyond. Roosevelt currently boasts four alumni in the National Football League, including Arizona Cardinals linebacker Will Davis, Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Jared Gaither, Detroit Lions receiver Derrick Williams and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Derrick Harvey. Defensive lineman Derrick Burgess played briefly with the Eagles last season before being released. He has had stints with the Eagles, Raiders and Patriots.
Roosevelt didn’t send any players to major programs this year, but Green said there was a reason for that.
“I know at times in the past, there were more major D-1 colleges that came through Roosevelt,” he said, “and the same schools, they come and visit. ... With recruiting, to be honest, a lot depends on what these schools need year in and year out. A lot of schools that I talked to this past year, they needed quarterbacks and D-linemen, and it just so happens that most of my D-lineman and my quarterback were underclassmen.”
The spring recruiting period is set to ramp up in May, and Green said college coaches are already scheduling appointments to come by and pick up academic transcripts and highlight tapes on potential players.
Green said he will have 15 seniors with a chance to play college ball next season, including quarterback/linebacker Shawn Petty, linemen Prince Antwi, Wesley Edwards and Tommie Boozer, quarterback/defensive back B.J. Antoine, receiver/defensive back Tyrone Temoney, and linebacker Chris McDowney.
“It is [nice], but I always tell the kids, ‘That’s not our focus,’" Green said. "Let’s not lose our focus. We want to make sure our team goals are ahead of our individual goals, and I think so far they’ve responded to that.”
The Raiders went 9-3 last year, in the 4A South title game.