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Revisiting the Boise State 2015 Recruiting Class: Wide Receivers

Check out part 3 of our series!

NCAA Football: Potato Bowl-Brigham Young vs Western Michigan Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a fun off-season series that Casey (of OBNUG), Zach, and Mike (both of MWCConnection) are rolling out for your viewing enjoyment (hopefully). Back in February, excitement was at an all time high for fans and coaches alike as the 2019 class was officially signed. Like every year, fans often tout a class as potentially one of the best on paper. This year it was actually the case. However, once players get on campus and actually on the field, the true story begins to reveal itself. It can often take years for a class to truly be judged as the impact of many players won’t be seen for a few seasons. That being said, this series will aim to revisit and evaluate Boise State’s 2015 class. There has now been enough time that many members of the class have either left or are entering their final seasons, which means players are able to be looked at for their production (or lack thereof) rather than projection and hype.

Anyway, each week, Casey, Zach, and Mike will look at a different position group from the class. While we will contribute a post each week, the location of the post will change (one week on one site, the next week on the other) so readers of both sites can follow along. Each post will have all of us weighing in on the same talking points for each season: our expectations of the player from when they signed, the production they gave each season on the team, and their overall impact, which we will fit into one of 3 categories (exceeded expectations, met expectations, or below expectations). We will each keep a running tally of our totals and then at the end we can each determine the over impact the 2015 class had. It should be a fun and interesting study to see what kind of careers each player had and revisit some names that may have been forgotten.

This week is focusing on the wide receiver position. The 2015 class contained two wide receivers, one who has lasted their entire career with Boise State and another who was only in the program a few years. Read below for our thoughts on Bryan Jefferson and Akillian Butler.

Bryan Jefferson

Casey

Expectations when he signed

Coming out of high school, Jefferson didn’t have crazy stats, but his tape looked like he could stretch the field and provide impact at the WR position. While I didn’t think he would play as a true freshman, I was excited about what he could do when he hit the field.

2015 Season

As expected, Jefferson took a red shirt as a true freshman. We had solid depth at the position, so it wasn’t really a surprise.

2016 Season

Jefferson saw no playing time, which was a surprise. Despite still having some depth at the position, I think most fans expected to see Jefferson in a reserve role, at a minimum. He didn’t see action.

2017 Season

After another season of nearly no playing time, Jefferson left the team. At that point, it wasn’t a surprise. Jefferson hadn’t separated himself and there was plenty of depth and talent at the position.

Overall Impact

Failed to meet expectations. If you never play and then leave the team, I can’t see how it could be anything but a failure to meet expectations.

Zach

Expectations when he signed

I remember watching Jefferson’s high school tape and thinking he might become the next great Boise State receiver. He had a ton of talent coming out of high school, but it did not pan out at Boise State for some reason.

2015 Season

Not a surprise, Jefferson redshirted.

2016 Season

He seemed poised to play. I even remember the coaches mentioning him. But sometimes success in spring ball doesn’t result in playing time.

2017 Season

Again, he did not see action and eventually transferred.

Overall Impact

Zero. I don’t know what it is with Boise State and Florida kids, but it almost never ends well. He failed to meet expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed

I thought Jefferson would develop into a solid slot wide receiver during his Bronco career. He was the best player on a bad team in high school, but still figured he could have a few years on the two deep.

2015 Season

Jefferson redshirted, which was no surprise as most do.

2016 Season

Jefferson did not see any action, which was surprising to me. I figured he could see the field on special teams or some snaps as a WR in mop-up time.

2017 Season

Jefferson left the team in November of that year. It may have been a surprise during the season but failing to stand out as a wide receiver didn’t leave too many options for him. He ended up going to Bethune Cookman.

Overall Impact

His career at Boise State didn’t go how either side wanted, to say the least. It was unfortunate and disappointing that Bryan didn’t even catch a pass over almost two full seasons as an eligible player. All of that to say he clearly failed to meet expectations.

Akillian Butler

Casey

Expectations when he signed

With the imminent graduation of dynamic playmaker SWR, Butler looked like SWR 2.0, albeit bigger. There was certainly a buzz about him and an excitement to have another playmaker on campus.

2015 Season

Butler didn’t get a TON of action, but not a lot of true freshman usually do. The fact that the coaches felt he was good enough to play as a true freshman was a big deal. Scoring his first touchdown on his career as a true freshman was pretty cool too.

2016 Season

2016 seemed poised to be a breakout season for Butler after showing promise as a true freshman. I don’t know that I would call it a disappointment as he had some production, but it wasn’t what we expected.

2017 Season

2017 was a massive bummer. I can’t seem to locate any articles regarding the injury, but I feel like Akilian had been dealt a previous injury, like a collar bone break or shoulder injury that shortened a season, but I might be thinking of someone else. Anyway, a torn ACL ended Butler’s 2017 season after 2 games.

2018 Season

Akilian played a much larger role, finishing with over 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns. While he has one more season to go, I think he’s poised to finish his career as a Bronco strong after showing plenty of flashes of the player we expected last season.

Overall Impact

Honestly, I would say Butler has met expectations. He hasn’t lit anyone’s hair on fire or broken records, but he’s dealt with injuries and worked his way into the lineup and performed when he’s been in. I looked forward to what he can do in his last season.

Zach

Expectations when he signed

He came out of a highly touted Texas high school and was expected to be an immediate contributor for the Broncos. Butler was looked at as a player with game changing speed and an electric returner. He was expected to be a major part of the Bronco offense.

2015 Season

Akilian earned playing time as a true freshman, but he saw limited action in the passing game. His biggest role was on special teams where he earned some time returning punts

2016 Season

Once again, Butler had a limited role in the passing game, catching only three passes. He started the year as the primary punt returner, but had a difficult time controlling the ball and eventually lost his job to Cedrick Wilson.

2017 Season

A major knee injury against Washington State sidelined Butler for the majority of the season. This may have been a blessing in disguise for Butler, as it looks like he could be a key contributor in 2019.

2018

Butler had his best season as a Bronco. He had 25 catches for 204 yards and became a reliable receiver off the bench for Brett Rypien.

Overall Impact

This is a tough one to answer. I would love to go with to be determined, but that is a cop out. I very well think he could end up having a good senior year. Hopefully, the best is yet to come for Butler. I will go with met expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed

Some may forget that Butler was quite the player in high school. He was from the West Mesquite pipeline that Boise State had for a few years. Honestly, he was really the only one who panned out. At the time, I thought Akillian would be about a three year contributor on the two-deep and starting a solid number during those years.

2015 Season

I figured he would redshirt but Akillian earned a role on the field, much to his credit. An argument could be made that it was mis-management to burn his redshirt, as he only compiled four touches, 34 total yards, and a touchdown.

2016 Season

This season was more of the same, with limited touches in his role. Butler totaled 53 yards on offense (two catches and a rush) with no touchdowns. He was also a punt returner, which didn’t go so well.

2017 Season

As a junior, I figured Akillian would be a good candidate to have a breakout year. Unfortunately, it was just a break. Butler suffered a season-ending injury in the second game of the season and it was starting to look like there wouldn’t be much production in his Bronco’s career.

2018

Thankfully, Butler was able to use a redshirt and preserved his status as a junior. He made the most of it, turning in his best season to date. He looked confident and had the stats to back it up. In a crowded wide receiver unit, he amassed over 200 yards and scored two touchdowns, the first receiving touchdowns of his career.

Overall Impact

Butler still has a year left and if his 2018 year is any indication, he should finish his career in good fashion. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Akillian have a season bearing some resemblance to what AJ Richardson did just last year. He hasn’t set the world on fire at Boise State but he’s been a contributor and for that I think he’s been able to meet expectations.

Running Totals:

Casey: 2 met expectations, 3 failed to meet expectations.

Zach: 2 met expectations, 3 failed to meet expectations.

Mike: 2 met expectations, 3 failed to meet expectations.