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Revisiting the Boise State 2015 Recruiting Class: Defensive Line.

We are back at it for another week looking at 3 DL recruits.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Washington State James Snook-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, we will look at the defensive line. There are three players who were brought in; one was a linebacker, one was an end, and one never joined the team. Read below to hear our thoughts on Sam Whitney, Matt Locher, and Ben Moa.

Sam Whitney

Casey

Expectations when he signed

I was moderately excited about Sam. He was lightly recruited, with his other offer coming from Sacramento State, which was right within the Bronco mold. I didn’t quite know where he would play as his recruiting profile listed him as DE, while his BSU profile said DL, and his stature was in that “I can play anywhere” frame. He could have been OLB too. Regardless, his film was good and I was interested to see what he could do.

2015 Season

Standard red shirt season.

2016 Season

He has light usage, making 5 tackles as a red shirt freshman. With Gabe Perez and Jabril Frazier ahead of him at STUD, I didn’t necessarily expect to see him a ton, so it was nice to see him out there.

2017 Season

At this point in his career, Whitney had established himself as a beast of sorts in the weight room. While he was not on the same level size-wise as DL/OL guys, who are perennially the big lifters, Sam found himself atop many of those lists. He had a promising season (21 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFL) cut short by injury.

2018 Season

2018 was a bit of a rehab season for Sam. He also had Curtis Weaver and Frazier ahead of him on the depth chart. He managed just two tackles in what continued to be a battle with injuries.

Overall Impact

I would say Sam has met expectations. I feel like he would have exceeded expectations had he not dealt with so many injuries. Of not, he tore his ACL in spring camp and will be out this season. He could earn a medical hardship waiver, but with his history of injuries, I wouldn’t fault him for passing.

Zach

Expectations when he signed

Honestly, they were low. Whitney was a late edition to the class and it looked like he was going to grayshirt. Thanks to a late scholarship, Whitney was able to enroll at Boise State and begin his career a year early.

2015 Season

Redshirted...shocking

2016 Season

Whitney saw some action, but the fact that he played at all was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

2017 Season

Whitney was listed as a starter early in the season and it appeared like he was going to share playing time with highly touted recruits like Jabril Frazier and Curtis Weaver. Whitney proved to be great at stopping the run, but an injury limited his season.

2018 Season

Whitney continued to battle injuries and was stuck behind two all-MWC players in Jabril Frazier Curtis Weaver. Unfortunately for Whitney, he suffered another injury and it looks like he may be limited in 2019.

Overall Impact

Whitney has been solid when he’s healthy. Unfortunately for him, that hasn’t been often. However, considering he was a late addition to the class and he has been dominant in the weight room. I feel like Whitney has met expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed

Sam was a last minute signee in this class, so his commitment didn’t register all that high on the excitement meter. He stuck out to me the most for being a grayshirt player but there was a last minute scholarship opening about a week before fall camp opened so he joined the team. I figured he would become a nice rotational piece during his time at Boise State.

2015 Season

You wouldn’t believe it, but he redshirted.

2016 Season

Whitney played in a backup role, which made sense given the plethora of players at the STUD position.

2017 Season

Sam had the makings of a breakout year in the works, starting 5 of 7 games as he took advantage of injuries to the position. He emerged as the best run-stopper at the STUD spot, getting 21 tackles, 1.5 for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Then, he suffered an injury himself and it was a season-ending one.

2018 Season

Unfortunately, Sam was playing behind two all-MWC players in Weaver and Frazier and didn’t see many snaps. That could change a bit in 2019, as Frazier has graduated and currently Whitney is pencilled in as the primary backup.

Overall Impact

Sam came in as a relatively unknown player and overcame an uphill battle on the depth chart to find a role for himself. Unfortunately, injuries during his time to shine and playing a position loaded with talent have prohibited him from seeing a ton of time during his career. Still, he’s smart and reliable when healthy. All in all he met my expectations.

Matt Locher

Casey

Expectations when he signed

Similar to Sam, I wasn’t NOT excited to have Matt, but he was lightly recruited and we didn’t know a ton about him. I anticipated he would maybe play DE based on his size, but nope, he beefed right up to play inside.

2015 Season

Expected a red shirt with the glut of talent at DT. Ash, Horn, JT, Deuce, Hoyte and Nance. Not likely he was going to start.

2016 Season

Appeared in two games, but no attributed stats. Again, not surprising with Hoyte, Auelua and Moa on the line. We also had a couple of talented D-line players come in in Hatada, Fesili, and walk-on Lui.

2017 Season

Despite the competition, Locher still appeared in all 14 games, recording 11 tackles, 3 TFL and a sack. Nothing to necessarily write home about, but Locher is a solid contributor and a much needed player on the line.

2018 Season

Locher appeared in all 13 games, starting 2. He recorded 15 tackles, 2.5 TFL and a sack. Honestly I’m impressed at his perseverance. It would have been very easy for him to throw in the towel, based on where he was falling in the depth chart and the talent around him. While his numbers may not blow anyone away, he’s seeing significant, meaningful playing time and showed how valuable he is to this team.

Overall Impact

I’m going to break with the other guys and say Matt has exceeded my expectations. While he isn’t a starter or landing himself on All-MW lists, he continues to battle at a deep position with a lot of talent and has proven his worth. I don’t think a ton of people expected him to come in and win position battles, but there have been plenty of players that have come and gone from this team that had less of a battle for playing time than him.

Zach

Expectations when he signed

Similar to Whitney, Locher was a late addition to the class and seemed destined to be an eventual transfer. Fortunately for the Broncos, Locher has stuck it out.

2015 Season

Matt redshirted. This proved to be beneficial as we was moved to the inside of the line and needed to put on some weight.

2016 Season

Locher appeared in only two games, he was part of a stacked defensive line.

2017 Season

Locher started to see the field quite a bit in a reserve role. Boise State had a ton of injuries along the defensive line in 2017 and it allowed Locher to see the field more. He proved to be a capable backup and made some nice plays at the end of the season.

2018 Season

Once again, there were significant injuries along the defensive line and Locher saw more action in a reserve role. 15 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. It was a good season for Locher.

Overall Impact

Like Whitney, not much was known about or expected from Locher. He has proven to be a solid backup and will likely star in that role in 2019. I’m going to go with met expectations for Locher.

Mike

Expectations when he signed

Matt was another late signee in this class. I believe he was a 3 star linebacker recruit coming out of high school and racked up loads of tackles during his time there. The Bronco coaches planned to convert him into a defensive tackle and that’s what they’ve down. I really didn’t know how he would fair in the position transition so safe to say my expectations were pretty low.

2015 Season

Matt donned the redshirt, which was the most likely outcome given his first year status and that he was trying to gain weight.

2016 Season

Again the defensive line had a pecking order and Matt was down towards the bottom of it. He appeared in two games.

2017 Season

Here Locher started to see a good amount of game action, playing in every game. He tallied 11 tackles, 3 for loss and notched his first sack. Played in a backup role and these stats were impressive given he was likely on the third team much of the season.

2018 Season

Injuries came around most of the defense this season, including the defensive line, and Matt stepped up to the challenge. He made two starts on the interior of the DL, again playing every game, and responded with 15 tackles, 2.5 for loss and a sack.

Overall impact

Matt Locher’s story isn’t over yet and he could be in line for his largest amount of snaps ever. Again, he won’t start but he’s proven he can produce when called upon and that makes him an ideal backup along the interior of the line. For a late signee who changed positions and has had to fight every step of the way to climb the depth chart, Matt’s been able to contribute to the team. With with context one could say he’s exceeded expectations and not be wrong, but I’ll go with met expectations on this one.

Ben Moa

Casey

Expectations when he signed

Honestly I was pretty stoked to have another Moa brother headed our way. David showed a lot of promise, and the thought of having his brother, coming from a JC with some experience under his belt, made me think some serious destruction.

2015 Season

Nothing. I super bummed to discover that Ben didn’t make it to The Blue. I didn’t ever really know what happened, but it looked like he went the CC route to finish his career. He was fun to follow on social media and super supportive of the program, which made it all the crappier.

Overall Impact

Despite me liking Ben, he failed to meet expectations simply because he never played here. Things happen and sometimes don’t work out. He’s not the first player for this to happen to and he won’t be the last.

Zach

Expectations when he signed

Ben was expected to be a major contributor alongside his brother David. Ben was forced to stay at his junior college because of some academic issues.

2015 Season

Ben would have been a key contributor, but he never made it to Boise. He continues to be a Bronco fan and supporter of his brother.

Overall Impact

This is one of those stories where we will always wonder what might have been. Unfortunately, we will never know the impact that Ben could have had on the team. I have no choice but to go with failed to meet expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed

He is the older brother of star DL David Moa and Ben was a JUCO player, so fans were excited to get a family connection in the fold. I believe the plan was to redshirt him given the depth of the DL in 2015 and help him adjust academically. Ben was a safe bet to make an impact for the Broncos, but a safe bet is still a bet...

2015 Season

First we were told Ben would stay in his junior college instead of joining the team in January due to grades. Then, he never arrived on campus for the fall. I vaguely remember something about him having to stay another semester at JUCO, but maybe that was just twitter rumors. I don’t think there was ever an official word but slowly it became a reality that the Moa connection wasn’t meant to be and Ben would not be a Bronco.

Overall impact

Ben was supposed to bridge the gap between the very deep DL to the next wave of talent (namely his younger brother David). But that plan never came to fruition and Ben failed to meet expectations.

Running Totals:

Casey: 2 exceeded expectations, 4 met expectations, 4 failed to meet expectations.

Zach: 1 exceeded expectations, 4 met expectations, 5 failed to meet expectations.

Mike: 6 met expectations, 4 failed to meet expectations.