Santa Monica College: Football Factory?
The Panthers drafted the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and finished second in the nation in combined tackles.
The Panthers not only selected a talented linebacker, they selected former Santa Monica College Corsairs football player, David Mayo.
Mayo played only a single season in 2011 for the Corsairs after not receiving any offers out of high school.
"With David, we knew he was talented, but we see a lot of talented guys," said SMC football head coach Gifford Lindheim. "What set him apart was his work ethic, determination, and confidence in himself. Texas State was the only Division 1 program that offered him a scholarship out of SMC."
Head coach Lindheim has been coaching talented players and helping them succeed here at Santa Monica College for the last six years. Lindheim has lead the Corsairs to four straight Conference Championship victories and 27 straight conference wins.
"We have SMC players playing in colleges all over the country," added Coach Lindheim.
Throughout the school's history, the SMC football program has been no stranger for producing high level football players.
The list of notable former Corsair football players includes the name of NFL Hall of Fame Cornerback, Jimmy Earl Johnson, as well as a trio of famous NFL wide receivers, Chad Ochocinco (formerly Chad Johnson), Steve Smith, Sr., and Isaac Bruce.
Jimmy Johnson left Santa Monica College in 1958 to attend UCLA and later be drafted by the San Francisco 49ers where he played the entirety of his professional career. In recognition of the 5-time Pro Bowler, the 49ers eventually retired Jimmy Johnson's number, 37.
The next former NFL player to have worn the blue and white was wide receiver Isaac Bruce. Bruce transferred to the University of Memphis from SMC back in 1992.
With the 33rd overall pick in the 2nd round of the 1994 NFL Draft, Isaac Bruce was drafted the Los Angeles Rams. Bruce was a 4-time Pro Bowler during his 16 year career in the NFL (14 for the Rams, 2 for the 49ers).
In 2009, 17 years after leaving Santa Monica College, Isaac Bruce became only the second player in the history of the NFL to achieve over 15,000 receiving yards over the course of a career, second only to Jerry Rice at the time and is now fourth.
Bruce wasn't inducted into the Hall of Fame this last year on his first nomination; however, it is widely thought that one day he will take his place in the Hall.
After Isaac Bruce graced the field for SMC, the next great Corsairs players came together almost as a pair.
Though they came from different backgrounds, Steve Smith Sr. and Chad Johnson lined up as wide receivers for the Corsairs back in 1997. After the 1998 season, Steve Smith Sr. continued his football career at the University of Utah, while Chad Johnson had to wait till after the 2000 season to transfer Oregon State University.
Though taking alternate paths, they both reached their ultimate goal in reaching the NFL when they both were drafted in the 2001 NFL Draft.
Johnson went on to become a six-time Pro Bowler during his 10-year tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals and became a household name when he legally changed his name from Chad Johnson to Chad Ochocinco (his number was 85). Ochocinco finished his NFL career in 2011 after playing for the New England Patriots and is currently playing in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes.
Smith, on the other hand, is about to start his second season with the Baltimore Ravens after playing 13 seasons with the same team that drafted David Mayo, the Carolina Panthers. Steve Smith is a five-time Pro Bowler and currently sits in 14th place on the NFL all-time receiving yards list, 10 spots behind Isaac Bruce.
Lindheim knew Smith personally before ever becoming the head coach at SMC.
"I coached Steve Smith in high school before he enrolled at SMC," remarked coach Lindheim. "You never would have guessed that he was the guy who was going to be playing in the league at a high level for over 12 years."
The SMC football program has a few individuals to look out for in the years to come. From this last year's team, star linebacker Paris Bostick, is planning on playing for the University of Oregon Ducks football program this upcoming season. Also, a pair of Corsairs, Dejuan Butler and Melvin Davis, are transferring to play for the University of Hawaii in 2015.
Looking ahead to this next season, SMC will welcome former University of Washington quarterback and once highly recruited, #1 dual threat high school quarterback in the nation, Troy Williams. Williams should be under center, tossing the pigskin for the Corsairs this upcoming season.
Coach Lindheim stressed not to put too much expectations on any current or former players because, as he puts it, "you never know who will be the next David Mayo."