Today, we are going to a take a look at each Mountain West team’s recruiting class rankings from the past five years. Hopefully, we can identify some patterns and see which teams are recruiting ahead of Power 5 teams or which teams are getting passed over by other Group of 5 conferences. For the sake of simplicity, we will just use the 247 Composite rankings here.
2014-2018 Classes: 112, 123, 114, 109, 121
5 year average: 115
Closest Comparisons: Wyoming, Rice (112), Kent State, 117
Bottom Line: As has been discussed many times, the Falcons’ recruiting is much different from the rest of the conference being an academy school. Many of their commits aren’t counted in the rankings and they are looking for specific types of players to fit their scheme. Still, they have a better average than a few other schools who don’t have the same restrictions, which means they are doing something right.
2014-2018 Classes: 63, 58, 68, 64, 56
5 year average: 61
Closest Comparisons: Illinois (58), Oregon State (59), Colorado (60), Cincinnati (63), BYU (64), UCF (65)
Bottom Line: Boise State’s 5 year averages are on par with many lower level Power 5 schools, as well as other top Group of 5 schools who are in fertile recruiting areas. They are tops in the conference by a wide margin and most years go head to head and sometimes beat out P5 schools.
2014-2018 Classes: 86, 119, 76, 73, 84
5 year average: 87
Closest Comparisons: Fresno State, Southern Miss (85)Louisiana Tech (88),
Bottom Line: The Rams have brought in a lot of talent over the years, even if it’s not fully captures in their class rankings. Based on these general numbers, they seem to be getting expected value out of their teams.
2014-2018 Classes: 84, 72, 85, 84, 94
5 year average: 83
Closest Comparisons: SMU (80), East Carolina (83), San Jose State, Southern Miss (85)
Bottom Line: The Bulldogs best year on the field was their worst in recruiting, according to the rankings anyway. They seem to recruit at a middle of the road level for the MWC and Group of 5, but have been a bit more consistent on the field than their counterparts. It will be interesting to see if they get a recruiting boost this season.
2014-2018 Classes: 99, 122, 108, 86, 96
5 year average: 102
Closest Comparisons: Navy (100), UConn (102), New Mexico, Utah State, UNLV
Bottom Line: It isn’t easy to recruit to the Islands, but Hawaii has been doing pretty well with it the past 5 seasons, besides one outlier. The coaching staff before this one didn’t place as much of a priority on recruiting, but the current staff hands out a plethora of offers and have brought in some nice athletes. Grading them on a slight curve for their troubles, they pretty much recruit as an average Group of 5 team, or looking at their comparisons, they recruit on par with many of their conference mates.
2014-2018 Classes: 81, 98, 105, 95, 83
5 year average: 92
Closest Comparisons: Tulane (92) Western Kentucky (93), Arkansas State (95), Northern Illinois (96)
Bottom Line: The Wolf Pack have some variance in their 5 year rankings, but their average checks out at a respectable rate, still top half of the conference. They seem to be trending in the right direction as well. Though they are a middle-MWC team, they recruit on the same level as top tier teams from other Group of 5 conferences.
2014-2018 Classes: 93, 116, 83, 118, 128
5 year average: 107
Closest Comparisons: Navy (100), UConn (102), Hawaii, Utah State, UNLV
Bottom Line: The Lobos would of course rather be on the other side of 100, but they have to be happy with where they stand. Landing close to UConn is a good look; even though they aren’t a football powerhouse, they are a name-brand. New Mexico, like Air Force, recruits more unique players for their option scheme and add in their tendency to bring in loads of JUCO players and one could make the argument that 107th is higher than they should be.
San Diego State
2014-2018 Classes: 73, 70, 82, 77, 78
5 year average: 76
Closest Comparisons: Houston (68), Marshall (70), Western Michigan (75)
Bottom Line: The Aztecs are also ranked as one of the top Group of 5 schools. While their rankings may not rival Power 5 schools, they hold their own with other schools and consistently have solid classes. Given their on the field success, it is clear they perform better than their classes would indicate.
San Jose State
2014-2018 Classes: 83, 62, 84, 98, 93
5 year average: 84
Closest Comparisons: Fresno State, SMU (80), East Carolina (83)
Bottom Line: The Spartans have a clear outlier in their 5 year average and even then most of those players didn’t last very long. They recruit better than their record, which means they are doing less with more for a well-located California school. Still, it also means there is always potential.
2014-2018 Classes: 117, 106, 81, 117, 99
5 year average: 104
Closest Comparisons: Utah State, Navy (100), UConn (102), New Mexico, Hawaii
Bottom Line: Like their counterparts, UNLV pretty much recruits as a middle of conference Group of 5 team, which is what they have been. That isn’t meant as a knock on them, but rather a way to say their recruiting and on field production pretty much go hand in hand. They are recruiting at a level of their play and playing how one would expect based on their recruiting classes.
2014-2018 Classes: 111, 96, 92, 104, 115
5 year average: 103
Closest Comparisons: UNLV, Navy (100), UConn (102), New Mexico, Hawaii
Bottom Line: Like many of the teams mentioned above already, the Aggies recruit about how one would expect from a middle to low Group of 5 team. They are pretty consistent at it as well, so they pretty much know what they will get year in and year out.
2014-2018 Classes: 128, 113, 116, 99, 127
5 year average: 116
Closest Comparisons: Air Force, Rice (112), Kent State (117)
Bottom Line: I was surprised to see the Cowboys have the worst 5 year average in the conference. While Bohl’s teams do more with less, this isn’t a place they want to be in the next 5 year period. Still, they are without a doubt outplaying their recruiting, which is a tribute to their coaching staff.
Let’s summarize and reorder a bit by putting the 12 teams into some groupings. Some groupings I just made up, but groupings nonetheless. Keep in mind there are 129 FBS teams.
Recruits at a low Power 5 level: Boise State
Recruits at a high Group of 5 level: San Diego State.
Recruits at a top-half Group of 5 level: Colorado State, Fresno State, San Jose State, Nevada
Recruits at a middle Group of 5 level: Hawaii, New Mexico UNLV, Utah State
Recruits near the bottom of the FBS: Air Force, Wyoming.
Again, this is not meant to say one team is awesome or terrible at recruiting. Instead, it is meant to actually quantify what teams have been doing the past few years and look at how they measure up to both other teams in the MWC and other teams around football. People (myself included) often say teams like SDSU and Wyoming perform better than their recruiting. That holds true, but especially for the Cowboys. The Aztecs recruit like a top Group of 5 team and that’s what they are. People talk of Boise State beating out Power 5 schools for recruits on a regular basis and while that is still true, it is perhaps not as much as I would’ve thought given where they fall among their comparisons. Not knocking them as they pretty much out-recruit the rest of the Group of 5, but before this exercise I would’ve thought they’d be ahead of Oregon State and Colorado and close to Washington State. I’ll end by saying recruiting rankings don’t perfectly capture players or a team’s class, as there are many other factors, but often they are the best tools we have when discussing recruiting.