Welcome to a new feature here on MWCConnection. As we head into that slow time following the end of basketball season, we have a few dead periods going on into August when fall camp resumes. Sure there will be the NFL draft, football high school camps and other scattered news, but on any given day, it can be a bit slow. Due to this, we have a few ideas cooking and this is one of them. The Boise State SBNation site, OBNUG, and us decided to combine our powers and see what we can produce. This week, I asked Casey, who covers BSU recruiting over there, a few questions. Next Thursday, make sure you head over to OBNUG to see what questions he will have me answer. Read below and enjoy.
What are the biggest factors in Boise State being able to recruit?
WINNING. That’s the biggest. You’ve seen the graphics countless times. Boise State is the winningest program in the nation in the last 15 years. We finally got back on top in the MWC, winning the championship for the first time since 2014. We have 12 conference championships since 2000. Boise State has not had a losing season since going 4-7 in the Big West in 1997. That means the players we are recruiting right now would have never witnessed a BSU losing season. The worst winning season was a 6-5 1998 season. Our second worst was our first year in the WAC at 8-4. Since 1998, Boise State has had just 5 seasons in which they won LESS than 10 games. 12 years of 10+ wins is absolutely insane. 197 wins to just 38 losses since the year 2000. A lot of people will claim “They play in an easy conference though.” Why don’t we see Arkansas State or Northern Illinois with that many wins, with that consistency? It’s because that, regardless of the difficulty of the conference, that level of consistency is very rare in college football.
The Blue turf would be the next biggest. A lot of people hate it, but a lot of people love it as well. Installed in 1986, it’s easily the most recognizable field in college football. With the amount of time that BSU has been on TV in the last 15 years, people immediately know that field belongs to the Broncos. Regardless of familiarity with the school, that’s memorable to people and will stick out to them. The draw of playing on the Blue field has been mentioned multiple times by multiple recruits. A lot of people say it’s a gimmick. I call it smart branding.
More recently, facilities is a big factor, though that “advantage” is minimizing. With much of the MW, most notably CSU, investing in their facilities, that is less of a recruiting advantage, but for the last few years, it’s been a big draw. If you have set foot in the Bleymaier complex, you know why. All of the trophies as you walk in speaks to my first reason.
Finally, Boise. Boise is a big reason why kids want to come here. It’s a big town and a small city. There’s plenty to do without all of the people, at least for now anyway. Anyone who grew up in Boise knows why so many people have been coming here. The campus itself is nestled right along the Boise River, which provides a nice balance of city and nature.
Biggest recruit/sleeper recruit in their class this year?
This is a tough one. Khalil Shakir, Andrew VanBuren and Stefan Cobbs would all be logical picks, but I wouldn’t exactly call them sleepers. If I were to pick just one player that not many are talking about, it would be Kekaniokoa Gonzalez. He played center for High School National Champion Mater Dei. It’s the powerhouse of powerhouses right now. Their O-line was full of talent and Koa lead that line. I fully anticipate Koa to land on the All-MW first team for at least 3 years.
If I were to have a #2 sleeper, I’d pick Danny Smith. AVB got all of the publicity in this class being the first 4* RB we’ve signed. Danny committed late in the process, but he has the makings of a great back. at 5’11”and 202 lbs, he will be a load to handle along with AVB. He was an every down back for Oxnard, and put up big numbers.
This class is a success if…
Honestly, I think it is already. I’m not sure exactly how you could equate any future success to this class as a whole without mentioning specific players, i.e. AVB continuing the 1k rusher trend, Shakir/Cobbs eclipsing 1k yards, etc. I think the coaches ability to identify and evaluate talent AND seal the deal on big name recruits is pretty remarkable. Pete was rarely able to recruit a 4* player to Boise. I think Harsin has had at least one in nearly every class. This one I think we have 4.
This class is a disappointment if…
I would love to win back-to-back MW Championships, but I could’t expect that to fall to this class. In a roundabout way, this class would be a disappointment to me if a bunch of them got kicked off the team, á la the 2011 class. I wouldn’t consider it disappointing, per se, but I would prefer we not lose a ton to attrition either, but no one can really predict that.
Who do you expect to play as a true freshman?
That’s a loaded question. Honestly I can’t EXPECT any of them to, but I would like to see quite a few! I think Shakir and Cobbs will be difficult to keep off the field. Hightower I think plays right away due to being a junior college player with experience. AVB very easily could see the field, and I think you have to play at least one RB. I would hate to see any attrition happen at this position, but based on the amount of talent we have there, I could see that happening. We have some depth at DB, specifically safety, but Mitchell might see the field, but we have some talent coming off red-shirts that might preserve his. Emmsley has the talent to play right away, but I anticipate him red-shirting, barring injury. Any of the lineman I expect to red-shirt. Henderson will get his fair share of packages at QB and Smith will red-shirt. Hawkins I think will get some looks at LB as a true freshman.
It seems like each year the level of ability of the players coming in is higher and higher, and the physical attributes they have is more and more impressive. Scale is currently listed at 327. I remember when we MIGHT have had a senior over 300, but these days it seems like the kids coming in are physically ready. It’s crazy.
Thanks to Casey for answering my questions. Check out his work as well as the rest of their team over at OBNUG and be on the lookout next Thursday as we bring the party over to their place.