College of DuPage carries state banner for JUCO football
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media September 2, 2012 5:12PM
Former Lemont football player Bobby Purvin (left) and former Rich East standout Marquette Privott came to College of DuPage after Harper shut down its football program. | Jeff Vorva~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 4, 2012 6:15AM
Twenty years ago, it wasn’t hard to find a junior college in Illinois that offered football.
Those high school athletes who were a few inches shorter, a few pounds lighter, a step or two slower, injured or a few points shy in the classroom of attracting the love of four-year colleges had a decent shot at prolonging their careers for a couple of years.
In the south suburbs alone, there was Moraine Valley, Thornton Community College (now known as South Suburban) and Joliet Junior College offering programs. Others not far away included Wright in Chicago, the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Triton in River Grove, Harper in Palatine and Rock Valley in Rockford.
The cost of running football programs helped ax several of those teams in the late 1990s. During the past offseason, Joliet and Harper eliminated their football programs.
That leaves just one junior college in the state offering football — the College of DuPage — and several south suburban players are on the 125-plus man Chaparral roster.
But it’s not easy making the COD squad. Coach Gary Thomas said that more than 500 athletes from across the country expressed interest in joining his team during the offseason. Camp started with 200 and the roster was pared down.
“It’s really tough to make it here,” said freshman Marquis Green, one of six former Homewood-Flossmoor players on the roster. “Just to be in pads and to participate in the drills ... we thank God every day for it and just keep fighting.”
Other H-F players on the opening day roster include sophomores George Buckley and Louis Curry and freshmen Darnell Johnson, Keith Smith and Devon Porter.
Former Rich East defensive standout Marquette Privott and former Lemont linebacker Bobby Purvin both attended Harper last year. The 25-year-old Purvin, who hadn’t played football since 2007 at Concordia University in Minnesota before taking time off from the sport, red-shirted for Harper in 2011. Privott picked up some playing time and earned some starts. Both were shocked when Harper pulled the plug on the sport.
“After all the hard work I put in last year hoping to play this year, it was like losing something — losing family,” Purvin said. “Not knowing your future was tough. It was like losing your house in a fire.”
Added Privott, “I had big expectations and when they took that away, it was like, man, I don’t know what to do any more.”
Both found a home at COD this year and appreciate the opportunity.
The team has a solid record of 31-22 in the past five years, including two trips to the Graphic Edge Bowl.
How long will COD stay in the football business? This year’s schedule finds two games in Iowa, one in Wisconsin and another in Arkansas, so there are big travel expenses. But players pay tuition and that may help the program in the long run.
“Like every program on every campus, it gets reviewed every year to get the long-term sustainability of the program whether it’s the nursing program or the football program,” Thomas said. “I’m fairly confident the numbers will support our purpose. We brought in 200 students who would have chosen to go to other schools if not for football. Last year we brought in close to $750,000 in tuition and we transferred close to 35 kids to scholarship schools. Those are the things I can control. Everything else is out of my hands.”
Other area players on the roster include Crete-Monee’s Jaylan Bailey, Matt Finnin and Lexus Jackson, Hillcrest’s Matt Daniels and Maris Carroll, Thornton’s Tracy Key, Willard Cotton and Terrell Franklin and Richards’ Dylan Rose and Rayfield Smith.
Also on the roster are Danzel McDaniel (Thornridge), Randall Wells (Marian Catholic), Dylan Rose (Richards), Javier Ferrisquia (Reavis), Levantis Lewis (Eisenhower), Victor Baker (Evergreen Park), Calvin Lindsey (T.F. North), Brandon Lucas (Shepard) and Marcus Lee (Bolingbrook).