By Patrick Cochran
Every year the City College football program sends players to big time schools and has been doing so for decades. Players go to top programs like Alabama, Texas A&M and numerous other Division 1 college football programs.
One school that has recently taken a shine to City College players is Washington State. In the past three years, five players have headed up north to Pullman to play for innovative head coach Mike Leach.
Of the five former Rams three play offense, like wide receiver Easop Winston, offensive tackle Robert Valencia and quarterback Anthony Gordon. Cornerback Robert Taylor and safety Shalom Luani play for Washington on the defensive side of the ball.
There is an easy explanation for this besides the fact that there are many good athletes on the Ram’s football team.
Since Mike Leach became the head coach at Washington State in 2012, he’s implemented his high speed, high flying “air raid” offense that opens up the passing game and leads to astronomical amounts of passing yards. A revolutionary offense that he helped develop with his former mentor Hal Mumme and is deadly effective when run correctly. City College deploys a similar offense.
Coach Jimmy Collins began to speed things up as the offensive play caller under previous head coach George Rush but since taking the reigns of the Rams program they’ve used a much more no-huddle offense.
Collins learned a lot of his offensive philosophies while playing football at Portland State where they use a run and shoot offense. Leach and Mumme based much of their “air raid” off of the run and shoot but made some tweaks and worked to simplify it by decreasing the playbook size.
“Formationaly we are very similar,” said Collins. “There are a lot of similarities in what they are asking their players to do.”
For the former Rams it’s comfortable playing in an offense style that is very similar to the one they just left.
“It definitely feels comfortable playing in a system where things are familiar,” said Easop Winston. “It makes the transition a whole lot easier. Already have to adjust to waking up at 5:30 every morning for workouts, so already knowing the playbook makes it less stressful.”
Robert Valencia, who was ranked by Scout.com as the #21 junior college football player in the country for 2017, is also adjusting to life at Washington St.
“We had a fast paced offense at City and here we run a very similar one. Pretty much the same playbook just with different names for plays and formations,” said Valencia. “Some of the pass protections are different but I am learning the new technique quickly.”
Winston and Valencia just arrived at Washington State this winter (junior college recruits arrive in the spring semester) after playing for City the previous few seasons while Robert Taylor and Anthony Gordon went up to Pullman last year. Shalom Luani transferred in 2015 and has had a successful career for the Cougars even winning the Pac-12 defensive player of the week in October 2015.
“Offensively the guys are in a position to do well,” said Collins. “Defensively too, since we run a similar version to theirs. So I expect Robert Taylor to perform well just like Shalom has done up there.”
“There are five guys that are there right now,” said Collins. “They might want to come back and get even more guys. Washington State and schools with similar offense can look at our film and see our guys running this offense and seeing guys doing what they need to do at the next level.” No doubt this is Coach Collins likely selling point when recruiting potential athletes to come play for City College.