Elite juco scorer, 2 teammates headed to USF soccer
USF hasn't officially announced its incoming men's soccer recruiting class, but the Bulls have signed three players from two-time national champion Tyler Junior College, including Dom Dwyer, the national junior college player of the year after scoring 37 goals in 21 games last fall.
Dwyer, from London, chose to play at USF, as did his best friend and teammate since childhood, midfielder Kyle Nicholls, as well as All-American defender Brenton Griffiths, who is from Jamaica. Together, those three went 41-0-1 in two seasons at the Texas college, winning two national titles along the way.
"I think Dom has a bright future -- he has a real nose for the goal, and goal-scoring is not something you can really teach," said his coach at Tyler, Steve Clements. "He could have gone anywhere in America -- he was recruited by everybody in the country. I've always rated (USF coach George Kiefer) as one of the best recruiters in the country, and he showed it here. (Dwyer) fell in love with the place, with the staff, too."
There's a strong precedent for Kiefer landing a dominant scorer coached by Clements. The last time it happened, Kiefer was an assistant coach at Connecticut, and Clements was at Meridian (Miss.) Community College. His top scorer, Damani Ralph, had scored 38 goals as a sophomore, and signed with Kiefer's Huskies, where he would go on to score 28 goals in two seasons at UConn from 2001-02. Ralph went on to be the MLS Rookie of the Year with the Chicago Fire.
Dwyer (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) and Nicholls (5-9, 156) have played together since they were 10, and Dwyer said the two have followed the same path by choice: "Once we started having success together, we kind of thought, 'Why stop it?'" he said. Nicholls had seven goals and a team-high 11 assists last fall, and Clements said the connection between the two makes them a force on the field.
"They know where the other one's going three moves ahead. They just link up well together," said Clements, who called Nicholls "our leader" for his energy and enthusiasm on and off the field.
Griffiths (6-0, 164), a first-team junior college All-American like Dwyer, was on USF's radar coming out of high school in Jamaica, and it was through Kiefer that Edwards became aware of the talented center back. "He'll start right away and be a huge asset there," Clements said.
Tyler's program was successful enough to send 12 players to Division I soccer this coming fall -- in addition to the three at USF, there will be two Apaches players at St. John's and Rutgers as well, so the Big East rivalries are already building on the practice fields this spring. Dwyer has a month of school left, but he's already looking forward to his time at USF.
"I'm very excited," he said by phone Tuesday. "When I visited there, it just felt right. I love the school, I love the look of the new stadium, and my new teammates made me feel at home right away. I'm really, really looking forward to it."