By MATTHEW ROBINSON
On the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft, four players who played community college football in the state of California heard their names called as new members of the NFL fraternity.
Those four players were running back DEVONTAE BOOKER of Utah, outside linebacker DEVONTE BOND of Oklahoma, inside linebacker JOE WALKER of Oregon, and tight end BEAU SANDLAND of Montana State.
Booker who was taken with the 136th pick in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos, was a star running back at American River College which is a 16-minute car ride from downtown Sacramento.
Booker who played for the Beavers from 2011-2012, accumulated 2,265 yards rushing and 27 touchdown runs in his career there. He also led the Beavers to two league titles (Mid-Empire league in 2011 and Valley North league in 2012) and one bowl game appearance (a 41-36 loss to the City College of San Francisco in 2012). And if all those accolades weren't enough, he was also an All-California pick (first team in 2011) and a state All-American (first team in 2012).
Booker left American River College for the University of Utah, where he was one of the better and more exciting running backs to play there. At Utah he was a physical, blue-collar, and explosive running back. Booker was a two-time All-Pac-12 conference selection and he was instrumental in the Utes winning two Las Vegas Bowl games in 2014 and 2015.
Booker left Utah with 2,773 yards rushing which is third all-time as far as career rushing yards at the Salt Lake City school.
Next up is Bond, who was selected with the 183rd pick of the 6th round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bond played his JUCO ball at Sierra College, which is located in Rocklin, California. That town is a 27-minute car ride on Interstate 80 from Sacramento.
He only played at Sierra for one year (2012), but he made it count. He was a 3-4 pass rushing dynamo at defensive end/outside linebacker for Sierra which enabled him to be a JC Bureau/CCCFCA first-team All-American.
He was third on the Wolverines in tackles with 77. But most importantly, he torched opposing offenses for 27 tackles for loss (first on team) which included 17 sacks (first on team). Bond was the Wolverines' pass rush in 2012, and since that year Sierra has had a hard time replacing his defensive production.
Bond parlayed his pass rushing skills into an eventual scholarship to Oklahoma in 2014; this after sitting out the 2013 season for some academic matters. Bond wasn't as dynamic or as polarizing at OU as he was at Sierra, but he was good enough for the Sooners to get some NFL scouts to study him and eventually help him get drafted.
Then there is Walker, who was taken with the 251st pick of the seventh round by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played his JUCO ball at Los Angeles Harbor College which is located in Wilmington, California. That school is about a 30-minute car ride from downtown Los Angeles.
For the Seahawks in 2012, Walker was their second leading tackler (102) and second in tackles for loss with 12. For his efforts he was named second-team All-Central Conference.
Walker who led Oregon in tackles in 2015 with 87, was asked to do a lot in the Ducks' defense last year as a 3-4 inside linebacker. He was asked to defend the run, pass rush here and there, and drop into coverage.
Then there was Sandland who was taken with the 252nd pick by the Carolina Panthers. He played his JUCO ball in this writers' neck of the woods, the San Fernando Valley. The 1983 movie Valley Girl, was based on the area where Sandland played his JUCO football.
Sandland latched onto 24 passes for 267 yards and 3 scores for Los Angeles Pierce College in 2012, and he was named first-team All-Pacific League for his efforts. Pierce College which also educated NCIS TV show star MARK HARMON, is around a 40-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles.
Sandland in addition to his athleticism and pass catching skills, was a very helpful cog in the run game as a blocker for the Montana State Bobcats offense in his only year (2015) playing for that school. He caught 37 passes for 632 yards and 9 scores last year which enabled him to make first-team All-Big Sky Conference.