Josh Hadley couldn't wait to leave.
He eagerly signed a national letter of intent late last summer to play running back on scholarship at Idaho, frantically packed his things from his south Sacramento home and headed to Moscow to tackle the great unknown.
He was ready for independence, to be his own man.
But reality struck Hadley like a forearm to the face mask. Idle during his redshirt freshman season, the Sheldon High School graduate realized the Vandals weren't for him.
Hadley made like a tailback reversing field and headed home.
Now he takes handoffs at Sacramento City College and is living at home with his mother, Karen Clavelle. He said he has no problem admitting that, though he may look like a man in shoulder pads, he's still a teenager and a kid at heart.
"I had to make the best decision for me, but the hard thing was calling Mom and swallowing my pride," Hadley said. "Mom didn't understand at first. She didn't know if I could handle it, and it made me feel selfish for leaving, but she believes in me. Hey, I think she even missed me as much as I missed her."
Hadley paused, then continued, "Idaho gave me a chance, but it didn't feel right. It's a blessing to be home with family. Happy to be back for a fresh start."
Stories like Hadley's are what makes community college teams so interesting. They're a haven for the overlooked, underdeveloped or bounce-back transfers from four-year programs.
Sac City plays at rival American River today at 1 p.m., and both rosters feature athletes eager to prove themselves.
The Beavers are led by sophomore wide receiver Tyler Trosin, who set Northern California career records at Folsom and accepted a scholarship to Oregon State.
Trosin admits he socialized too much in the college dorms in Corvallis, and his studies suffered.
"The hardest thing to do," Trosin said, "was to call my parents and tell them to come get me."
Trosin had a strong season last fall for ARC, and he returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns last week in a rout of Monterey Peninsula.
ARC coach Jerry Haflich and Sac City coach Dannie Walker started as players at two-year colleges.
Haflich played at Ventura College and then set tackling records as a linebacker for coach Bob Mattos at Sacramento State in the early 1980s. Walker played at Hartnell College for a year before starting his final 22 games in the secondary for coach John Volek at Sac State in the late 1990s.
"I'm a product of the system, so I tell my players, 'I've walked in your shoes,' " Walker said. "Some don't have a good situation at home. This is an interesting time in their lives. They need a mentor and coach and teammates. But it's up to them. We can't hold their hands."
Standing on the sideline during Wednesday's practice at Hughes Stadium, Walker pointed out quarterback Taylor Laird of Oakmont, who commutes from Roseville. Receiver Nick Whitaker and running back Henry Enyenihi came from Georgia for a change of scenery. Receiver Devin Benjamin of Sacramento High is a bounce-back transfer from Idaho State.
"Everyone is dealing with something," Walker said. "I tell our guys to take time to know your teammates. Get to know that person. Make your relationship and time more valuable. We talk about our guys being explosive. Explosive as a human being, as a student, a player, a man.
"Football at this level is a great way to learn that."
Joe Davidson and SureWest Sports' Mike Finnerty break down Week 2 of high school football on their ESPN1320.net podcast.