YUMA, Ariz. – As the semester draws to a close, the Arizona Western College football team says so long to 13 talented student-athletes. They all have committed or signed on the first day of the junior college signing period to continue their educational and playing careers all across the nation.
Patrick Macon (Oklahoma State), Jeremy Patton (Arkansas), Yasir Durant (Missouri), Craig Evans (Oregon State), Matthew Leo (Iowa State), Matthew Boateng (Fresno State), Jefferie Gibson (Arkansas State), Devin Webster (Northern Illinois), Kamau Farrell Burke (Middle Tennessee State), David Lucero (UTEP), Chris Favoroso (Montana) and Alex Ogle (Tusculum College) all signed their National Letters of Intent with four-year schools. Keisean Nixon is committed to South Carolina.
Macon, a 6’3, 225-pound sophomore linebacker and team leader, signed with Oklahoma State after leading the nation’s second-ranked scoring defense all season. He finished with 122 tackles and led the nation with 27.5 tackles for loss. Macon also forced nine fumbles, had seven pass breakups, nine sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception. He was also named the WSFL Co-Defensive Player of the Year and the El Toro Bowl Defensive MVP for AWC.
Patton is considered the nation’s top junior college tight end recruit among the recruiting services, and he continued a trend of talented tight ends at Arizona Western College. He finished with 18 receptions for 242 yards and led the team with six receiving touchdowns this year. Five of the touchdowns came in the team’s final three games as he closed the year strong. The 6’6, 245 pound sophomore also helped pave the way for the nation’s sixth best rushing attack (242.1 yards per game). He was named the El Toro Bowl Offensive MVP for AWC after catching a touchdown to put the team ahead in the fourth quarter, and he also was named to the All-WSFL and All-ACCAC First Teams.
Keisean Nixon has been rated as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation and is the 10th best junior college recruit overall according to ESPN’s recruiting rankings. The sophomore committed to South Carolina this week after locking down receivers all season. He tied for fifth in the nation with six interceptions (returning two for touchdowns). He added in five pass breakups, and most quarterbacks simply avoided his side of the field. Plus, he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a pivotal win over Mesa. He chipped in three sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a blocked kick and 30 tackles as well.
Along the offensive line, Durant started at guard for the Matadors throughout the season. He will be asked to open holes at Missouri like he did at AWC while playing a big role in helping the Mats pile up 2905 rushing yards. He was named to the All-WSFL Second Team and the All-ACCAC First Team.
Defensive tackle Craig Evans simply wrecked opponents all season on the interior of the line. He heads to Oregon State after finishing fourth on the Matador defense with 58 tackles. He had an impressive 18.5 tackles for loss (14th in the nation) to go along with 5.5 sacks. Plus, the 6’4 315-pound redshirt-sophomore forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, picked off a pass, had one pass breakup and blocked two kicks.
Matthew Leo came to Arizona Western without having played a down of football in his life, and now the sophomore signed with Iowa State after two seasons spent learning the game. The 6’7, 265-pound sophomore was part of a deep Matador defensive line, and he finished with 17 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss along with a fumble recovery.
Cornerback Matthew Boateng will go to Fresno State after spending one season with AWC. The sophomore worked in a strong cornerback rotation and picked off two passes while breaking up two more. He also finished with 27 tackles.
Wide receiver Jefferie Gibson heads to Arkansas State after transferring to Arizona Western from Clemson. Gibson was a scoring threat for AWC with five of his 12 receptions going for touchdowns. He scored twice in the team’s win over Eastern Arizona College earlier in the season, including a backbreaking touchdown with less than 10 seconds to go in the first half.
Defensive back Kamau Farrell-Burke signed with Middle Tennessee State after playing an important part all season in a deep Matador secondary. The sophomore picked off a pair of passes and broke up four more. He added 22 tackles and a forced fumble as well.
David Lucero transferred to AWC this season and was part of a tight end group that ran four-deep. He finished with nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, and he caught a two-point conversion in the NJCAA National Championship game in the fourth quarter. He also helped open holes all season for the powerful Matador ground game.
Defensive end Chris Favoroso inked with Montana off a big season as a terror to opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks. He led the team with 10.5 sacks and was tied for fourth in the nation with 22 tackles for loss. The 6’3, 255-pound end also finished with 65 tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and a blocked kick. He earned First Team All-WSFL and All-ACCAC honors at the end of the season.
Devin Webster started at defensive tackle all season, and he heads to Northern Illinois next season. Webster finished with 42 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and two sacks for the Mats. He also added a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Quarterback Alex Ogle is headed to Tusculum College (NCAA Division II). He completed 19-29 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns this season. The sophomore started one game and led the team to a 49-7 win after going 12-18 for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
The Matadors finished the season ranked third in the nation after falling in the NJCAA National Championship Game to Garden City Community College. The team tied a school record with 11 wins (all three such seasons have come under current head coach Tom Minnick).
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,400 certificates and degrees in 2015-16.