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2018 Recruiting Breakdown: Boise State

The Broncos secured the best class in the MWC, read why.

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Boise State vs Oregon Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Kicking off our Class of 2018 breakdown coverage is the number one team in our MWC rankings, Boise State. This should come as no surprise as the Broncos have consistently out recruited the rest of the conference since they joined the Mountain West. This year, they have a recruiting class ranked higher than numerous P5 teams, including: Kansas State, Arkansas, Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas, Arizona, Oregon State, and others, depending on which site one is looking at. As to why they were able to rank higher than so many other schools, read on below for more details.

The Skinny:

  • 23 recruits signed
  • 14 offensive, 9 defense
  • 4 were listed as 4-stars by either Rivals or 247, 18 other listed at 3-stars by either Rivals or 247.
  • Breakdown by state: 12 California, 5 Texas, 2 Idaho, 1 Florida, 1 Hawaii, 1 Georgia, 1 Mississippi

QB Riley Smith

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  • A January signee, but by no means short on talent. Smith has as high of a ceiling as any player in this class. He possess the size coaches covet, a powerful arm to make any kind throw, and the athleticism to extend players by moving around the pocket and picking up yards with his legs.

JUCO QB Jaylen Henderson

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  • Henderson is a great instinctual runner who has the ability to make big plays with his legs. As a passer, he’s at his best rolling out of the pocket where he becomes a true dual-threat to run or pass. However, when he stays in the pocket he is accurate making quick-throws. He will be experience and a mobile presence that worked well in the Bronco offense last season.

RB Andrew VanBuren

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  • VanBuren has all the skills one would want in a running back. He possesses power, speed, explosiveness, and he runs with a sense of determination which seems to be a trait of BSU running backs. He does a great job running between the tackles but is effective bouncing to the outside as well. AVB looks to be the complete package at RB.

RB Danny Smith

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  • Not to be overshadowed, Smith is not lacking in talent or production as the “other” RB in this class. He’s a fluid runner who quickly kicks it into high gear and has nice break-away speed, easily outrunning defenders. Smith appears to be already polished as a pass-catcher and is involved in the offense in a variety of ways, which will fit well in the versatile Bronco offense.

WR Khalil Shakir

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  • Shakir is a dynamic threat no matter where he lines up on the field. He has the ability to play wide-receiver, running back, returner, cornerback, and could probably even handle a role as a change of pace QB. Simply put, Shakir is an electric play-maker as they come and even as a freshman will be a player opposing teams have to scheme against.

WR Stefan Cobbs

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  • Cobbs is as speedy as they come, flashing top-end speed and break-away ability. A smooth route-runner and accomplished deep threat, he will be much more than just a bubble-screen type of guy. Perhaps his most unassuming trait is his ability to win jump balls on passes despite having simply average height.

JUCO WR John Hightower

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  • Hightower is an experienced and well-rounded wide-out, and coming from the JUCO ranks he is expected to play right away. Though his opportunities were somewhat limited on his team, he made the most of them. Hightower does a great job of high-pointing the ball and also adjusting his routes and steps to get under the ball in order to be hit in stride.

WR Billy Bowens

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  • Bowens is yet another quick, athlete pass-catcher. He has perhaps the most diverse route-tree displayed in his highlight film Bowens shows precision on his short to intermediate routes, which is an area where he may be able to do the most damage. That being said, he has the ability to rack up yards after the catch thanks to his sneaky speed, which also gives him deep-threat potential.

WR Cameron Thomas

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  • The first thing to notice in Thomas’ film is surprising speed for someone labeled as a “tall WR”. He features those skills in the return game as well as his offensive production, noted in a few jet-sweeps. Of course, he also has a knack for winning jump balls over small defenders as a red-zone target. With his abilities to jump over defenders to make a catch or simply run past them, he possesses the skills to become another potential #1 threat on a team full of them.

TE Tyneil Hopper

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  • Hopper is about a complete of a TE as they come. He is extremely physical in his blocking abilities, not shying away from making a hit. Likewise, he’s a crisp route-runner with great speed to give him yards after the catch. Hopper is the type of dynamic player who could be a feature in an offense. He projects to be a great player at a key position in the Bronco’s offense.

TE Cole Ramseyer

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  • A local player who went unnoticed by other schools, Ramseyer may fly under the radar a bit but his skills play up much bigger. A smooth runner who looks comfortable lining up off the line, he appears to have tremendous hands as well. He plays with a sense of determination every snap and was athletic enough in high school to double as a defense end. He should shine as a TE in an offense known for featuring them.

C Kekaniokoa Gonzalez

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  • Under-recruited due to his size, the anchor of the OL for top high school program Mater Dei, Gonzalez stood out at the Poly Bowl. He’s a natural center with a high football IQ. Rarely does he miss an assignment and he’s technically sound in run and pass situations. He has all the makings of a future 3+ year starter once he adjusts to the college game.

OL Garrett Curran

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  • A stalwart at right tackle during his high school tenure, Curran projects well there for college as well. With a great frame for a tackle and perhaps the ability add some more weight, there’s some nice upside. Curran is a really nice run-blocker at the end of the line and he picks up his assignments well. His tape suggests he’s quick off the snap and he's athletic enough to get off the line to make blocks as well.

OL Dallas Holliday

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  • Holliday is a big, strong, powerful presence at guard. Especially skilled as a pull-guard and picking up blockers in the second level, he should be a huge addition to the run game. Holliday will easily become a running-back’s best friend as his skills should have no problem translating to the next level.

NT Scale Igiehon

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  • Igiehon is as athletic of a nose tackle as one could find, as the first play on his highlight film indicates. Not only can he eat up multiple blocks, but he shows the ability to consistently break through them to get in the backfield. He should have no issues stuffing the run and best case is Igiehon develops into an interior pass-rusher as well.

NT Keegan Freeborn

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  • The first thing that is apparent watching Freeborn’s tape is that he is primarily playing on offense. But the Bronco coaching staff views him as a future Nose Tackle and that’s how they will develop him. Some traits are still apparent which will help him going forward. He plays with a tenacity that was almost made for getting after the ball on defense. His size and strength make him an ideal fit to plug up the middle of the field on defense. Also, his knowledge of the OL may give him an advantage on the defensive side of the ball.

STUD Demitri Washington

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  • The first thing to know about Washington is he was athletic enough to play QB on offense. The next thing to know is he was an even better pass-rusher. He’s big, strong, and has a high motor. Washington sheds his blocks quickly and is quick enough to chase down QBs and ball carriers with his closing speed. He displays multiple pass-rushing moves and he can only improve through college level coaching.

DE Kukea Emmsley

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  • Emmsley is another highly skilled pass-rusher and another player who opened some eyes with a dominant showing in the Poly Bowl. At times on his film, he simply looks unblock able, showing moves of bull-rushing lineman and particularly developed at using a speed-rush. Emmsley looks like a potential star as a pass-rusher and it shouldn’t take too long for him to develop into that projection.

LB Brandon Hawkins

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  • Hawkins has all the skills to be a solid CFB linebacker going forward. He plays fast and is extremely mobile, able to play sideline to sideline. He is a physical sure-tackler and he tackles noticeably well in space. Hawkins also seems to be fairly advanced in blitzing and coverage assignments, which will bode well for him entering college.

LB Phillip Mills

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  • Mills plays with an extremely high motor on the field. He his versatility is evident, as he lines up in multiple spots on the field. Mills executes his assignments well and is an impressive blitzing, whether it’s from off the line or in the middle. He puts himself in good position to make places and is a punishing tackler.

LB DJ Schramm

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  • Another athletic, hard-hitting linebacker that Boise State is becoming known for. Schramm looks like a natural fit at MLB, dissecting plays easily and getting in great position to fill holes and stuff up the run. He plays well dropping back into zone-coverage as well and does a good job keeping plays in front of him.

CB Chris Mitchell

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  • Mitchell went up against some of the best wide-recovers in California high school football, so it’s safe to say he is battle-tested and his skills will translate to the next level. He is a tall, long, physical cornerback, the type that isn’t seen around the MWC very often. Extremely physical with great instincts for the game, Mitchell has all the makings of a shut-down CB who can match the tall speedy WRs stride for stride.

CB Tyric LeBeauf

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  • Another corner with lots of length and athleticism. LeBeauf brings a lot of experience against top competition coming from powerhouse Long Beach Poly. His tape displays an aggressive CB who isn’t afraid to be physical. He shows the ability to play a variety of coverages, but looks to be at his best in press man or shadow coverage.

Headliner(s): Shakir, VanBuren, Emmsley

Talented enough to play right away: Shakir, Cobbs, VanBuren, Hopper, Mitchell

Sleeper Recruit: Washington

Best unit: Without a doubt it’s wide-receiver, but linebacker and cornerback are deep as well.


Top to bottom this class is full of talent and possibly one of the most talented classes the Broncos have had in recent memory. It’s filled with star power and loaded with solid, talented players in the rest of it. There aren't many projects or fillers here. Expectations will no doubt be high, as this class raises the bar in recruiting. In the Harsin era, the ceiling had been securing 1-2 4-stars per class. This year, they were able to land 4 players who had a 4-star rating on one of the main recruiting sites. There will be no shortage of talent going forward for future Boise State teams.

Tomorrow: Colorado State