Bryan Harsin and company managed to do something that very few schools in the Group of Five ranks have done, land a top 50 class. What is even more impressive is that they managed to do it with only 18 signees. The Broncos also landed four of the top ten recruits in school history. This week, we are going to focus on how Boise State has taken the next step in recruiting.
The Early Signing Period
This is easily the biggest reason Boise State recruiting has improved. It is no coincidence that the top two classes in school history were in 2018 and 2019. The Broncos have had far fewer decommitments and have been able to find some nice recruits that fell between the cracks after the initial signing day. The Broncos signed 15 of their 18 commits in December.
There are a number of recruits that would have received attractive offers if they did not sign in December. Most of the high school all-star games take place in January. Recruits like JL Skinner, Khalil Shakir, and Kukea Emmsley got rave reviews for their performances in these games. In the case of Emmsley and Skinner, they were bumped up to four-star status by 247 because of their performances in the all-star games. Would they still have signed in Boise if they got bigger offers? Who knows? But that option was taken off the table thanks to the early signing period.
Land Some Big Fish Early
This was huge for the Broncos. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier is the second highest rated recruit in school history and committed to the Broncos early in the process. The same can be said for Casey Kline, who is the fourth highest rated recruit in school history. Both players served as “recruiters” and were able to compliment the work that the coaches were putting in. Having a quarterback like Bachmeier committed early in the process, allowed the coaches to target some big time wide receiver prospects like Khyheem Waleed, DK Blaylock, and Shea Whitting. All three of the wide receiver commits had multiple offers from Power Five schools.
Target Big Time Recruits at Positions of Need
This proved to be huge for the 2018 class, as Scale Igiehon, Andrew Van Buren, and Khalil Shakir all saw significant playing time at positions of need. I think the idea of playing early has become a bigger factor in recruiting. Quarterback, running back, linebacker, and corner all have some questions entering the 2019 season. I expect guys like Bachmeier, Kline, Langi, Reed, Skinner, and Holani to have opportunities to play as true freshmen.
Build a Winning Tradition
Easier said than done. Few programs around the nation can match what Boise State has done over the last two seasons. Winning may not be the number one priority for all recruits, but it is certainly high on the list. The Broncos have won 217 games over the past twenty seasons. Recruits know they are going to regularly compete for conference titles and go to bowl games. There are only about ten teams in the nation that can say this to recruits with a straight face, and Boise State is one of them.
High NFL Draft Picks/NFL Success
Most of the kids being recruited have dreams of playing in the NFL. For a long time, Boise State did not have a lot of players in the pros. That has changed in recent years, first round selections like Leighton Vander Esch and Doug Martin have helped to change the way outsiders view the program. Boise State has become a very desirable destination for highly rated running backs, as Alexander Mattison will likely make it four of the last five starting running backs being drafted; the last three running backs (Mattison, McNichols, Ajayi) have all declared early. Boise State now has players at wide receiver, running back, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, safety, and corner in the NFL. They are likely to add quarterback to that list with Brett Rypien, which is a huge feat for a Group of Five team. They also have former players coaching in the professional ranks.
This is what makes Harsin and his staff great recruiters, they aren’t afraid to go after big time recruits and won’t back down when they get big time offers. Bachmeier is the perfect example of this. Most Group of Five schools would back down from players that are receiving offers from Georgia and Tennessee, not Harsin and company. It’s not just Bachmeier; Kline was an Arizona commit and had offers from UCLA and Oregon. Fifteen of the 18 commits had Power Five offers, including 39 offers from PAC 12 schools.
Impress the Parents
This is super important. Sending a kid off to college is a stressful thought for parents. They want to know their child will be safe, treated fairly, and get a quality education. I am aware of the fact that Boise State is not known as a school with superior academics, but they have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Boise is also one of the safest and fastest growing cities in the United States; it has a lot to offer young graduates in terms of career and quality of life.
Love the Place You Work
Early in his tenure, Bryan Harsin had the reputation of being difficult to work with. That has changed in recent years, as he has developed quite the coaching tree and an accomplished staff. Harsin and his staff love Boise State and the community. Harsin, Andy Avalos, Lee Marks, and Gabe Franklin are all Boise State alums who have stayed at the school despite other offers.
Hire the Right Guys
How Boise State has been able to hold on to Eric Kiesau, I don’t know. Kiesau is a dynamic recruiter that is in the process of changing the receiver position at BSU. He is responsible for recruiting dynamic receivers like Octavius Evans, Khalil Shakir, and Khyheem Waleed, among others. Another great hire was defensive line coach Spencer Danielson. Danielson was a graduate assistant that was promoted to STUD’s coach before the 2018 season. He has recruited some dynamic players and is a high energy guy that the players can relate to.
There are so many elite prospects in the 2019 class, that I thought it would be fun to make a few predictions.
Amount of Players Drafted?
I’m going to go with five. My early guess is Skinner, Holani, Kline, Hall, Waleed.
Highest Drafted Player?
JL Skinner. He has the size and skill to play safety at a high level.
Amount That Will Transfer?
Three. One of the quarterbacks, one of the receivers, and a wildcard.
As you can see, Boise State has taken recruiting to the next level. The question is, will it show on the field?