Now that the all the signings are official and the classes are finalized, it’s time for a countless amount of hype and articles about your favorite team’s recruiting classes. It’s a fun time of year because teams have secured so much talent and coaches, players, and fans dream of each one of them reaching their potential.
It is our aim here at MWCConnection to discuss specifically how much talent and potential is entering the conference in this recruiting class. This will be done through a few different posts, some of which will be team specific and others will be looking more from the standpoint as the conference as a whole. Today is a snapshot of the top talent entering the Mountain West in this class. Here is our version of the top 10 players.
How did we come up with this list you ask? Good question!
Jeremy, Zach, and myself (Mike) put our heads together and spent a few hours spread out over a week or two to arrive at the ten recruits we listed below. It’s important to remember there is no perfect formula for recruiting, but we considered a few different things. Of course, we leaned on the major recruiting sites, 247 and Rivals, and the rankings they provided. This helped to narrow our focus substantially. Then, we considered offer lists, watched quite a bit of film and stated our cases for players. Other factors, such as position or level of competition also used to an extent, mainly coming into play in “tie-breaker” scenarios. What you see below is the result of that process.
It is important to keep in mind this isn’t a prediction on who will make the most significant impact or be the best players in four years. Instead, it is a statement of who are the best recruits entering the Mountain West as freshmen. Recruiting rankings should never be mistaken as an exact science, as each year some highly rated players don’t live up to their rating and players completely off the radar end up making a bit impact. However, the rankings end up getting it right more often than not.
1) QB Hank Bachmeier (Boise State)
- First and foremost, Bachmeier is one of the highest rated recruits to ever come to the Mountain West. He’s a real game-changer at football’s most vital position. The first thing to notice is he has a cannon for an arm and displays nice touch on his throws as well. Bachmeier is exceptionally mobile, both throwing on the run as well as gaining yards with his legs. He throws a very nice deep ball, and although his tape doesn’t show it as often, he can make the throws on more common routes as well. Hank is a big-play threat more often than not and has the ability to make the rest of the offense better when he is on the field.
2) OLB Casey Kline (Boise State)
- Casey Kline is an athlete in every sense of the word. He can play multiple positions on both sides of the ball but figures to slot into the outside linebacker and rush end role in college. He projects to excel in that role due to his tremendous combination of size (6’5”) and speed. Kline can tackle in open space, stuff the run, get off blockers to blitz effectively and drop back into coverage. He has the potential to not only play and start from day one but also to be an impactful player immediately.
3) WR Jalen Cropper (Fresno State)
- Jalen Cropper is another player with the talent to play and make an impact right away. He is at his best getting the ball in space and using his quickness and athleticism to make plays, whether that is done on offense or in the return game. Cropper can be used in a variety of ways on offense; his film shows elite effectiveness in the screen game, as a running back, as well as the intermediate and deep passing game. Jalen will be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses over the next three to four seasons.
4) RB George Holani (Boise State)
- George Holani is a complete back in every sense of the word. A tough runner between tackles, with breakaway speed, once he gets into the next level. He displays excellent vision while also being able to make one cut and taking off. Holani is a steady presence as a receiver out of the backfield, which will allow him to be a versatile threat on the field. George will be getting carries next season and has the potential to have a significant role.
5) WR Khyheem Waleed (Boise State)
- Khyheem Waleed is a big-time talent who dominated Arizona high school football. Looking at his film, his skill in running deep routes and adjusting to the throw is clearly evident. His speed allows him to create separation both while the ball is in the air and after the catch. Waleed’s highlights in the red-zone showcase his route running abilities and the highlights of him as a returner put his elusiveness and agility on full display. Khyheem’s well-rounded game as a receiver will cause havoc at the next level, and it will be hard to keep him off the field in the fall.
6) CB Brandon Crossley (Colorado State)
- Brandon Crossley is another true athlete. His film shows how he is able to take control of a game as a wide receiver on offense, a cornerback on defense, and a returner on special teams. With the Rams, he will play on defense, where his hands and understanding of routes will get him an advantage going in. Crossley also possesses great speed and the ability to change directions and make cuts fluidly. Plus, he can factor into the return game, making him an immediate boost to a team desperately in need of more impact players.
7) DB JL Skinner (Boise State)
- JL Skinner is yet another fantastic pickup for Boise State, as he had numerous offers from Power 5 schools. Like Reed, he will bring big talent and big size to the secondary, this time at the safety position. He played both ways in high school, which will help him understand offenses and comprehend routes. Skinner is a physical presence who sheds blocks from receivers with ease and wraps up extremely well on tackles. He can cover as well, running with receivers stride for stride and uses his size to make plays on the ball. JL is the type of player poised to make an impact on the field for the next three or four years.
8) LB Lolani Langi (Boise State)
- The first thing that stands out about Lolani Langi on his highlight film is he has an incredibly high motor on the field. In many ways, he looks like an ideal outside linebacker. Langi displays the ability to line up along the line or in a more traditional linebacker spot and get into the backfield to stop the run either way. He is a great tackler in the open field and reads the quarterback well, which gives him a step or two when making a play. Also, while not quite as natural as run stopping, Lolani does well when dropping back into coverage and holds his own covering the short or underneath routes.
9) RB Keegan Duncan (Boise State)
- Keegan Duncan simply dominated in high school. He is huge for a running back but looks like he moves effortlessly because of his athleticism. The main traits Duncan shows on film that stand out are his ability to break tackles due to his size and his break-away speed that allowed him to make big play after big play at the high school level. He is a polished pass-catcher, which will serve him well as the college level. In addition to this, Keegan’s best strength is probably his versatility. He can run between the tackles, take a pitch in the option, run some wild-cat, catch out of the backfield and in the flat and also run routes. Any offense would benefit from him.
10) DE Breylon Garcia (Nevada)
- Breylon Garcia is another high-motor defensive player on this list. He is an absolute terror at defensive end, using his athleticism and quickness to disrupt running backs and quarterbacks alike. His film shows he beats one-on-one coverages with ease and even shows the ability to make a play while fighting through double teams. Garcia has an advanced array of rush moves and lines up in multiple spots and rushes in multiple gaps, which points to a high football IQ to pair well with his natural athleticism. Breylon is a premium player at a premium position and will see a large number of snaps next season.
Recruits also considered: LB Christian Lavalle (Utah State), WR Ty McCullough (Colorado State), WR Jaylen Hearst (Colorado State), WR Lincoln Victor (Hawaii), DL Alonzo Hall (Wyoming), RB Justin Dinka (SDSU), DB Nate Polk (Air Force), QB Travis Mumphrey (UNLV), ATH Dominic Mazotti (SJSU)
As many of you may know by now, I like to also break lists like these down into tiers. Tiers can be helpful to provide a different angle to look at things. If one made an argument to flip some of the spots on this list but kept them within the same tier, I wouldn’t put up much of a debate.
Tier 1: Bachmeier, Kline, Cropper
Tier 2: Holani, Waleed
Tier 3: Crossley, Langi, Skinner, Duncan
Tier 4: Garcia, Lavalle, and some of the others we also considered.
- Right off the bat, it needs to be said that the most difficult recruit to rank was Keegan Duncan. He was rated a four-star by 247, but only a two-star by Rivals. He put up huge numbers and likely would have been a great player anywhere, but did play a lower level of competition in 2A Idaho.
- On a similar note, Tier 3 seemed to be the closest gap between the players and we had the longest discussion about the order of those three players.
- Out of the ten players, five were on each side of the ball. Although four of the top five were offensive players. There are two linebackers, two wide receivers, two running backs, two defensive backs, and one quarterback and defensive end.
- No surprise, but Boise State dominated the list, with seven of the ten players.
- A case could certainly be made for 5-7 players to fit into the back end of our top ten. That speaks to the quality of the top end of recruits the Mountain West programs were able to bring in this class.
Your turn: Who on the list do you agree or disagree with? Who else belongs on this list? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Coming Tomorrow: The 2019 MWC All-Recruit Teams. We will roll out our first team, second team, and the JUCO/Grad Transfer team.
Follow @Mike_SBN for all MWC recruiting news and updates. Jeremy Rodrigues and Zach Ballard also contributed extensively to this article.