The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
There was a time when the summer was considered the “offseason” for football.
To College of San Mateo head coach Tim Tulloch, there’s no such thing. To him, the entire year is football season.
“Offseason? What’s that?” Tulloch said.
Between preparing for the upcoming the 2023 season, Tulloch is, at the same time, juggling all those student-athletes weighing offers from four-year schools, which means summer is anything but quiet for the Bulldogs.
“Our guys are taking classes year round — fall, spring, summer,” Tulloch said. “It allows them to get ahead in the classroom and transfer early, which helps their recruiting stock.”
And CSM has been a hotbed of recruiting over the last 10-15 years and now that they are the defending state and national champion, the calls from next-level coaches are coming fast and furious.
Julian Edelman, a 2005 Woodside graduate who spent one season at CSM before going on to star with the New England Patriots, was one of the first breakout Bulldogs. Mekhi Blackmon and Bennett Williams, who played at CSM in 2017 and 208-19, respectively, had their names called at the recently completed NFL Draft.
CSM has transferred players to all the big-time college programs, including Power 5 schools such as Alabama and LSU. There has also been a steady stream of Bulldogs populating Pac-12 rosters, as well, including former Serra quarterback Luke Bottari, who transferred to Cal after last season at University of Utah.
“He’s definitely in the mix at Cal,” Tulloch said.
“We got four kids at Berkeley (Cal), six kids at Oregon State. You just go down the list,” Tulloch said. “I think the benefit of being a CSM player is, coaches across the country trust us. … They see guys like Mekhi Blackmon and Bennett Williams going to the NFL. … They see our guys performing at the Power 5 level and they want more CSM Bulldogs.”
Tulloch said by the time the transfer window closes, the Bulldogs will have transferred on 35 student-athletes, 30 of who will sign FBS, or Division I, scholarships from last year’s championship team.
“There are (transfer) windows, but with the JC component, the window is a little bigger,” Tulloch said. “We had a guy transfer the first week of August once. The four-year schools are always recruiting. I talk to our guys so much about putting their heads down and working … and you can create opportunities.”
While many of those transfers have already joined their new college programs, the ones who are still making a decision or waiting for other offers to come their way are still allowed to work out with CSM as long as they are in town. Even if their eligibility is up at CSM, they are still allowed to train with the team.
Tulloch said those looking to transfer will work in with the those who are returning for the fall season and the coaching staff makes sure that everyone is getting the work they need to be ready for next season — whether it’s played at CSM or not.
“Our guys are in a constant state of development,” Tulloch said. “We structure it so everybody gets what they need out of it.”
And players get plenty out of the work and effort they put in at CSM. Cornerback Demetrius Freeney, a freshman out of San Leandro, is transferring to University of Miami after one year with the Bulldogs. Tulloch said Freeney played quarterback in high school, but after one season in the Bulldogs’ system earned a scholarship package that Tulloch described as, “a life-changing opportunity.”
Netane Fehoko was lightly recruited linebacker out of Hillsdale. Now after two years at CSM and converting to an offensive lineman, he recently signed with Rice University. Jayden Dixon-Veal, a sophomore wide receiver from Southern California, recently signed with Purdue.
As Tulloch said, just keep going down the list.
“They transfer (from CSM), they’re prepared and they’re ready to make an impact and produce,” Tulloch said. “A lot of programs are coming specifically to CSM because of how our team performs and they are ready to go.”
While fielding calls and correspondence from coaches around the country, Tulloch and his staff are preparing for the upcoming season, with the first day of padded practice coming Aug. 7. But such is the nature of the job at the community college level. Turnover is a constant, so the coaching staff knows how to navigate it.
“It’s just part of the job,” Tulloch said.
But now, four-year coaches and their staffs are getting a taste of what their CC colleagues are experiencing. With the advent of the transfer portal — which enables college athletes to freely move from one school to another without penalty — four-year schools are starting to see the type of player turnover CC coaches have experienced for years.
“We’re used to it. We’ve been doing it longer,” Tulloch said.
And while Tulloch said he has heard from other coaches on the community college level complain about the transfer portal, Tulloch and CSM have experienced the opposite.
“The elite programs see us as a top-tier portion of the transfer portal. … I’ve heard there are a bunch of JCs who have been negatively impacted by the portal,” Tulloch said. “We’ve had the opposite effect. We’ve seen even more opportunities because of the track records of our players. They our kids as prepared and ready (to play at the next level).
“When we win, we all win. You see kids who are not in the rotation getting full rides. It’s not about stats, it’s about how you develop.”