Boise State had allegedly their largest recruiting visit ever this past weekend for the game against Nevada. It was comprised of 10 official visitors, 7 of which were already verbal commits, as well as a handful of unofficial visitors. It’s a strategy they’ve employed often during the Bryan Harsin era; take a group of recruits who have already given solid pledges to Boise State and put them in the same visit weekend a few of their uncommitted top targets. It’s worked well in the past and has already paid dividends not even 24 hours later after they landed a commitment from talented wide receiver Khalil Shakir, who was one of the three official visitors who came to Boise uncommitted.
“It was amazing up there!” said Shakir, the newest member of the class. “GameDay is something special there. The fans and players go at it a different way than I seen before. It was great. Their offense is something I really like. Lots of difference guys caught the ball. The coaches basically told me they think I fit good in the offensive system and are hyped up about me. I talk to Coach Harsin and Coach Kiesau all the time and not always about football. Lots of things to like.”
Shakir wasn't the only one who enjoyed their weekend in Boise. Whether it was a first-timer or recruits who had been there before, everyone came away impressed. Most had similar highlights so topics will be grouped together.
The Atmosphere and Game Day Experience:
Every recruit there was getting their first taste of what game-day in Boise State looks like. A few even posted pictures of videos of the team in the locker room celebrating the win. The visitors came away impressed with the crowd and overall atmosphere during games.
“The environment was awesome and it just feels like home.” said QB Zach Wilson. “It’s very comfortable and it seems every player there now loves it.”
LB Brandon Hawkins explained his experience. “It was my first time being there for a game and I loved the atmosphere. The fans were great, the staff took really good care of us, the players were really welcoming and the coaches great as always.”
“The atmosphere was on another level. It gets loud and stays loud throughout the game. It’s exactly what I picture when I think of D1 college football.” said Gonzales, who knows a thing or two about big games coming from powerhouse high school program Mater Dei in California.
DE Caleb Thueson, an athlete from Idaho who took an unofficial visit this weekend, echoed similar sentiments. “The Bronco walk did it for me. The young man from my hometown who was able to lead the team in the Bronco walk before the game. He was bullied at school and BSU picked up on this and made it possible for him to be recognized for the great kid that he is. I appreciate this and really like the way they made him feel special. Boise is special to me. It's in my home state and that's a big deal to me. Those kind of things seem to be at the heart of their program.”
But perhaps the biggest praise came from an uncommitted visitor, junior college DL Jonathan Lolohea. “There’s nothing close to it. Nothing like our games. The atmosphere was just crazy good and I can’t even fully explain it.”
Being Around the Players and Coaching Staff:
The visitors appear to have a great bond with the members of the Boise State football program, whether that is current players or the coaching staff who has spent time fostering relationships and selling their program to them over the past few months (and probably longer).
TE pledge and Idaho native Cole Ramseyer spoke to that a bit. “It was great! Seems like every time I come here I like it more. The players brought you in and treated you like family and the coaches are all around great guys. They are all very excited for our 2018 class.
Said Thueson: “I talked a little with Sam Miller a Recruiting Graduate Assistant who helped me schedule the visit, and I was able to talk to him about the recruiting process. For Boise State, it's about the person you are on and off the field. I appreciate that they go out and serve in the community. That they're looked at as not just players, but mentors, who stay and build careers right here in Boise after they take off their pads. It’s about being a student, athlete, and a person and I’m all in on that.”
As excited as the players were to be around the coaches, it sounds like the coaches were just as excited.
“The staff said our class is one of the best they have had so far with everything they want to do and what they think we will be able to do out on the field.” Hawkins contributed.
Observing to Attack the Future:
One of the phrases coined during the Harsin era is “Attack the Future” or #ATF, which is seen all around social media to boost the buzz surrounding the program. The commits in the 2018 class may be starting to do just as that, as many of them soaked in the game and kept an eye on their position to see how it fits into the game plan as well as how the coaches envision them once they get on the field.
“I got to sit in a couple meetings as well and it was great to see how the team operates and how close the team was with their teammates and coaches.” said Ramseyer. “I’m in a pretty good spot at Tight End. They have a pretty big playbook that utilizes their tight ends in many formations but I think I should be able to pick up the concepts pretty easily once I get down there.”
“I love their offense.” Wilson shared. “Their QBs plays a huge role in there offense and I just love what they do on offense. I think I fit really well into their offense and being able to run around a bit as a dual-threat type.”
“I got to watch film Sunday and I felt like I was able to keep up with what was going on. It will only prepare me and make me better going forward.” Gonzales remarked.
On the defensive side of the ball, the coaching staff seems to think highly of their incoming players, with Hawkins being the example used here. “They want to use me similar to Tanner Vallejo. As far as playing the field side LB and also sliding up to a rush end with personal change instead of having to come off the field. They like my versatility.”
The Bond of the 2018 Recruiting Class:
With 8 members of their 16 player class all in Boise for the weekend, a recruiting class that is already very close had an opportunity to finally meet each other for the first time. The athletes were thrilled.
“Loved getting to hangout with the other commits and get to know them before we all get up there for good.” Hawkins told MWConnection. “It felt like we had all been friends for a while already.”
Added OL pledge Kekaniokoa Gonzales: “We were all hanging out like we’ve known each other since we were young. Had a lot of fun together. Coaches said we’ve clicked the best he’s seen out of a recruiting class.”
That’s a bold statement but it appears to be pretty accurate based on the exchanges seen on social media, with undoubtedly much more communication happening away from the public eye. How has this class been able to bond so well, especially with having not met one another until this past weekend.
Hawkins, who along with fellow visitor Phillip Mills (and a few others), appears to be one of the early leaders in this class, explained his take on his class. “We have a group chat and we don’t just talk about football. We talk about life and everything that’s going on. Also, I feel like Boise recruited a lot of kids with a similar mind set and that’s really help us connect.” Hawkins and Mills have already discussed the possibility of rooming together next year.
“I talk to the other commits on the daily and we are already starting to come together.” Gonzales chimed in. “We even all mess around and joke on each other now like we've known each other forever. It’s great.”
A bond like this has multiple benefits. In the short term, it can keep a class together and help recruits not to waver when other schools come calling, which is inevitable in today’s recruiting world. It also has the potential to attract other targeted recruits and bring them into the fold. It’s safe to say that has been happening for a few months. In the future, the players and coaches hope this bond translates to the field, where the players will push one another to improve and form chemistry needed to have 11 individuals play as a single unit.
Potential and excitement are staples of every recruiting class at every program across the country. However, that is not to take away anything from what the 2018 Boise State class is shaping up to be. While nothing is official until February (or now December) when recruits can sign Letters of Intent, this class seems to be ahead of past years in terms of size for early November. Adding in Shakir’s commitment, and there are 16 known verbal pledges as this time. Although recruiting classes often look much different come February, it is far from a bad thing to have 8 members of the class visiting together the same weekend or to have them forming relationships over social media. It’s already making a difference, and if these players have anything to say about it, it will make a difference for the duration of their Bronco careers as well.
Follow on twitter: @Mike_SBN for the latest recruiting news in the Mountain West Conference.