College of the Canyons football has been a roller coaster ride of up and down seasons, but it has never had a shortage of great players. In anticipation of kicking off the new season (7 p.m. vs. Golden West at Cougar Stadium), here are my picks for the best players at each position since the reinstatement of football in 1998. Players are picked based on performance at COC as well as after.
I know what you are going to say, “Matt Moore never played for COC,” and you’d be partially correct. While Moore never played a down at COC he gray-shirted in 2004 in between transferring from UCLA to Oregon State in order to avoid losing a year of eligibility. It’s hard to argue with his success after COC passing for 5,733 yards at OSU, leading the Beavers to a Rose Bowl and a Sun Bowl. Moore was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers just a few months later. Moore was a career backup until last season when he started 12 of 16 games for the Miami Dolphins.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Bauer (2001-02)
Arrington posted record numbers his sophomore year at COC rushing for 769 yards on 135 attempts and caught 30 passes for 320 yards scoring 19 touchdowns. Arrington then transferred to Cal where he led the Bears to their first 10 win season since 1949. Arrington also rushed for 2,018 yards his senior year becoming only the second PAC-10 player to reach that milestone. Arrington won the Pop Warner Award for the best college player on the west coast and was named first team All-American. Arrington was drafted with the 12th pick of the second round by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2005 NFL draft. Arrington never lived up to his college numbers though and is not playing in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: Fred Winborn (2007-08)
The record books don’t lie: Carpenter is by far the best wide receiver in COC history. He holds the records for receptions in a game, career receptions, yards in a game, season and career and touchdowns in a game, season and career. He had 173 receptions for 3,079 yards and 28 touchdowns in his career at COC. After COC, Carpenter transferred to Minnesota where was never able to duplicate his production at COC.
Honorable Mention: Tyrell Smith (2002, 2004)
The 6’4″, 250 pounder out of Birmingham High School in Van Nuys was the team’s second leading receiver in 2009. He racked up 316 yards on 32 catches scoring 3 touchdowns and averaging 9.9 yards per catch. This earned him a full ride to the University of Tennessee.
Honorable Mention: Brian Miller (2001-02)
The 6’5″, 305 pound beast from Gibbs, Fla. became one of the most sought-after junior college offensive lineman prospects in the country. After rescinding his original commitment to Auburn after the 2011 season, he signed a letter of intent to play for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Honorable Mention: Shawn Huntsinger (2002-03)
Pierre-Paul played just one season at COC, but easily became one of the most physically gifted athletes to ever don the Cougar uniform. Pierre-Paul was forced to transfer closer to home for financial reasons and ultimately ended up at the University of South Florida. In 2010 Pierre-Paul was drafted by the New York Giants with the 15th overall pick. In 2011 he won his first Superbowl ring when the Giants defeated the Patriots.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Fanene (2000, 2002)
Isaac Sopoaga was a huge part in rebuilding the COC football program after its 17 year hiatus. He led the Cougars to their first conference championship in 27 years in 2000 before transferring to Hawaii. Sopoaga was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the 104th overall pick in the 4th round. He has been a leader of the 49er defense ever since.
Honorable Mention: Domata Peko (2002-03)
Joey LaRocque was one of the defensive leaders on the 2004 National Championship team. After leading the team to the Southern California Championships in 2005, falling one game short of another National Championship, he rejoined former teammate, Matt Moore at Oregon State. LaRocque was drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears.
Honorable Mention: Justin Cudworth (2009-10)
Justin Tryon was another member of the 2004 National Championship team where he played cornerback and performed kick and punt return duties. After the 2005 season, Tryon transferred to Arizona State University. Tryon was drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. He currently plays corner for the New York Giants with fellow former Cougar, Jason Pierre-Paul. His twin younger brothers Jarrod and Jarrett also played for COC.
Honorable Mention: Roshawn Marshall (2003-04)
S – Troy Nolan
Troy Nolan is the third player on this list that played in COC’s first and only National Championship. Nolan then joined teammate Justin Tryon at Arizona State University. Nolan was drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Houston Texans where he plays free safety.
Jason Tompkins the final player from the National Championship team on this list and is the current holder of eight COC records. He holds the record for points by a kicker in a season(108), in a career (199), field goals in a season (15), in a career (23), extra points in a game (9), in a season(67), in a career(130) and longest field goal (52 yards).
Chuck Lyon is credited with the revival of COC football. He is also a name out of COC player history as the first player to score a touchdown at Cougar Stadium. In his eight years as the Cougar head coach, he compiled a record of 85-20 winning five consecutive Western State Conference championships from 2000-2005, a state championship and a national championship and was the WSC Coach of the year four times. Five of his former players are playing in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: Garett Tujague (2007-present)
What do you think? Who’s missing from this list? Let us know in the comments.