By JOEL GANTT
With the Tucson sun beating down on a mid-summer day, more than 70 men kneel on one knee surrounding Pima Community College football coach Pat Nugent.
“The reality is we can only keep a few players,” Nugent says. “Most of you won’t be playing football for Pima this fall.”
The PCC football team is not exactly a powerhouse in the Western States Football League. Pima struggles to win games year after year. That does not mean, however, that any average Joe can play for the Aztecs.
It is easy to sit on the couch, drinking a beer with your friends while watching football on television and say, “I could play football, I’m better than these guys.”
Everybody has friends or relatives who swear they can play college football. In reality, few have what it takes to make a college football roster and Pima is no exception.
In order to make the Pima football team, everyone must try out. Registration costs $20.
The tryout is comparable to the National Football League combine you see on television. Players are separated into groups based on a number received at registration.
The groups go to different stations, where their statistics are recorded.
One station is a combination of 180-pound bench press and vertical leap. Another station is a shuttle run that tests lateral movement.
Yet another station has you test stops and starts by running around cones while facing one direction. Then there is everyone’s favorite, the 40-yard dash.
If you are 6 feet tall and weigh 190 pounds, complete nine repetitions on the bench press, have a vertical jump of 31 inches and run a 40-yard dash in 5.3 seconds, you won’t make the team.
After the combine-style tryouts, you will be separated into groups based on the position for which you are trying out. These drills don’t show much except who can follow directions and catch a football.
The tryout is performed without pads and helmets. If the coaches do not know who you are, you will need a huge body or be a beast in the combine workouts to impress them.
There will be players trying out that the coaches already know or have recruited. They will have an advantage over an unknown athlete.
Anyone who has played football understands you cannot judge a real football player without him strapping pads on and getting after it in a full-contact scrimmage or football game.
However, this tryout gives coaches and yourself an idea of what you have to bring to a football team.
Maurice Chavis, the starting nose guard for Pima, is currently on a football scholarship. The 6-foot, 275-pound lineman is a rare example of a player who tried out and did make the team.
“There were 100 of us trying out and four guys made the team,” Chavis said. “People think it’s easy to Pima’s football team, but it’s not.”
Pima is 2-5 this season and has been outscored 175 to 57 in their five conference games. If you think you can play college football, the record says PCC is a school that will be easy to make.
If you are that guy who tells his friends and family that you could play college football, there is only one way to find out.
PCC holds an open tryout every summer. You can see if you have what it takes to make the team, or you can do what most people do: talk about what could have been.