John Archuleta recently committed to Towson University, and pending admission, he’ll be attempting to finish up his college football career at his fourth school in the last four years.
Towson offered Archuleta a scholarship after another athlete, who met the 6’5”, 300 lb Offensive Tackle on a visit to Western Illinois, informed the Towson coaching staff that they might want to try and become Archuleta’s final destination. If all goes as planned, Archuleta will soon head out to the Baltimore suburbs to suit up for last year’s FCS runner-up.
It’s been a long road for Archuleta, who hasn’t just changed college programs three times, but also moved from Arizona to Las Vegas while in middle school, and then transferred from Green Valley High in Las Vegas back to Arizona before his senior year. When his father requested a work transfer back to Arizona in 2010, he wanted to make sure John wound up playing for a good high school program. The Archuletas were no strangers to the local football scene, as John’s older brother, Erik had been a star QB at North High during their 2005 11-win season. John’s father Dennis was serious about football, and pushed both he and Erik to get the most out of their abilities.
“He raised me and my brother tougher than most,” said John. “I think that’s a good thing. Him pushing me and being aggressive helps me push myself because I want to do something with all the hard work he’s made me do”
John’s senior year destination ended up being Hamilton High, as part of an offensive line that already featured highly recruited linemen Christian Westerman and Tyler Johnstone. After the move, Archuleta says he saw his recruiting dip, but his skill increase.
“At Green Valley I was ranked as the fifth best player in the state, and had recruiters visiting me daily,” said Archuleta. “When I got to Hamilton I kind of fell off the recruiting radar, but practicing against Hamilton’s defensive line every day made me a much better player. That was the trade off.”
Archuleta was part of a Hamilton team that rushed for 3700 yards and 46 touchdowns en route to a 15-0 record and a state championship, including a victory over Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, a rival of his former school. When John received an offer from Fresno State, he didn’t even let a week pass before driving to the campus with his father to watch a game.
“It was early in the process and I got excited,” said Archuleta. “They talked about me coming in and starting, but when I got there I realized I had some issues with technique that I needed to get down and I ended up redshirting.”
Archuleta sat out his first season. He practiced against the team’s best players, and participated in two-a-days, but as a redshirt, was unable to travel with the team. Like many freshman away from home for the first time, and without gameday action to focus on, he began to feel homesick. Still, Archuleta made it through the season with the intent to continue on as a Bulldog, even after Pat Hill announced in December of 2011 that he had been fired after 15 seasons as the team’s head coach. According to Archuleta, it was the way new coach Tim DeRuyter and his staff, including offensive line coach Cameron Norcross, initially addressed their new players that made him decide to seek other football opportunities.
“They came in and pretty much yelled at the whole team. I didn’t like the way they came in, and I didn’t click with (Norcross). I just didn’t like what I was seeing compared to what we had under coach Hill.”
Two other schools had offered Archuleta scholarships prior to Fresno- Navy and Portland State. Archuleta reached out to both schools, and it was FCS Portland State that offered him a chance to move from guard to tackle, as well as an opportunity to compete for a starting spot right away. On September 8th, in the Vikings second game of the season at North Dakota, Archuleta had earned a starting spot on the offensive line. The next week PSU was scheduled to play at FBS Washington, where former Hamilton teammate Kendyl Taylor was earning playing time as a true freshman. The game was available to Arizona cable subscribers, but when locals tuned in to see the Hamilton Huskies reunion, Archuleta was nowhere to be found.
“I got a stupid suspension. I had just earned a starting spot, and I ended up costing myself some games, and a semester’s tuition. I wasn’t going to pay the out of state tuition for the spring semester, and my grandfather was ill, so I just decided to come home.”
Archuleta had no doubt that his college football career would continue, but he admits schools were wary of the fact that he had already left two other programs. When none of the FCS schools that were interested made an offer, Archuleta enrolled for his redshirt sophomore year at Mesa Community College. After playing at the FBS and FCS levels, Archuleta was shocked by the difference between how junior college and D1 programs were run.
“The difference between FCS and FBS is skill position players, both still have big men that can learn technique. The difference between D1 and the JC level was discipline. At the D1 level you have to show up to every meeting on time and there’s no question about it. At junior college you can get away with not going to practices and BSing around.”
After helping lead MCC to the playoffs, Archuleta left the team to focus on making sure his academics were good enough to qualify for another four year college offer. Western Illinois was the first to come in, but after his visit to Towson, he felt like he had the best opportunity to finish accomplishing his goals.
“I wish I would have had the four year experience, whether in high school or at Fresno or PSU, but since I can’t do that, I want to focus on my degree. I want to stay on top of my academics and do better than I have in the past.”
Archuleta’s goals aren’t just about the classroom. He hopes to play tackle right away, and possibly earn an All-Conference designation. “If all goes well, I might even get a pro workout like Tevin (Hood) or Zach (Bauman) when I’m done.” As far as anyone who is doubting Archuleta’s ability to stick with a program for more than one year, he says “I just want to let my play do the talking, and finish strong.”