LONGMONT -- National letter of intent signing days usually see major Division-I recruits heralded most as they make their college commitments official.
But for baseball players in particular, the path to the D-I ranks doesn't always mean a direct shot from high school.
In fact, the list of D-I players, and even pros, who detoured through junior colleges first is a lengthy one. So signing with a JuCo program with solid tradition like Cochise College is every bit a reason for celebration.
That's exactly the route Longmont High baseball player Drew Magee chose as he and three of his classmates inked their letters on Wednesday.
Magee will play at Cochise, which is in the Arizona-Mexico border town of Douglas, next season.
"I really like the junior college route for a couple of reasons," Magee said. "The amount of kids they put through their program that go on and play at other schools is phenomenal."
Magee, a catcher and third baseman, didn't have scholarship offers from any larger NCAA programs. But the one he got from Cochise was substantial in a sport where partial scholarships are the norm. Plus, for guys who aren't heavily recruited, the JuCo route gives them another year or two to catch the major college recruiters' eyes.
"For baseball it's really a good way to go because you can go and play right away," LHS coach Tom Fobes said.
Magee knows plenty about how the JuCo path can pay off. Cochise on its website boasts 100-percent placement for its alumni to four-year college programs, 23 pro draft picks and four alumni who reached Major League Baseball.
Magee's brother, Paul Workman -- a 2000 LHS grad who played at Cochise in 2001 and 2002 -- played for D-II Metro State following his stint in Douglas.
But Workman was also teammates at Cochise with Kevin Kouzmanoff, an Evergreen High School grad who followed up his time at Cochise with stints at Arkansas-Little Rock and the University of Nevada before a pro career that's seen him play for MLB's San Diego, Oakland, Cleveland and Colorado.
"There's a lot of good talent down there," Magee said.
Also taking part in the LHS signing ceremony Wednesday were Cloie Cox, Tessa Christopher and Tyler Pettibone.
Pettibone, Magee's teammate, will play baseball at NAIA Central Christian in McPherson, Kan., where he'll study sports management.
Christopher, a key defender for the Trojans who is headed to NAIA Missouri Valley College, said she was inspired to play at the college level by watching former teammates like Erica Meier (UNLV) go on to the next level.
Like Christopher, Cox also comes from an LHS program that has sent plenty of talent to the college ranks. But Cox, who helped lead LHS to the state tournament last fall as the team's only senior, said she originally wasn't planning to play in college.
Now the libero is headed to D-II Fort Hays State to play volleyball and study exercise science and human performance.
"I didn't really plan on playing in college actually," Cox said. "And then senior year everything kind of clicked. ... I feel like I have a lot more potential to offer the sport."
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