Now that 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 entirely off the radar end up making a bit impact. However, the rankings end up getting it right more often than not.
1. LB Brennon Scott (UNLV)
Scott is a premium talent coming out of high school and a major boon for the Rebels. He’s also a safe bet to become a solid all-conference performer. He was able to separate himself and claim the top spot due to his ability to get to the quarterback, a coveted skill in the college game.
2. DB Semaj Verner (Boise State)
It was a close call with Verner getting plenty of consideration for the top spot. He is everyone a team would want in a defensive back and is capable of playing any place in the secondary. He has the talent to play from day one, and he will likely become a multi-year starter with a productive college career and some all-conference consideration.
3. WR LaTrell Caples (Boise State)
Caples is a dynamic receiver and the top offensive recruit in the conference. He’s well-rounded in his variety of production he provides and plays with excellent game speed. His route running and ability to gain yards after the catch separates him from other players. He is a good bet to be a multi-year starter with an all-conference selection of two.
4. RB Nathaniel Jones (New Mexico)
Jones instantly becomes the prized recruit in the Gonzales era for the Lobos. He is an extremely talented back that the offense can build around for the next few seasons. His ability to burst through holes and his vision to bounce outside when necessary make him difficult to tackle as he piles up yards. He could start from day one and will certainly make New Mexico a run-first offense during his tenure.
5. OL Joey Wright (SDSU)
It’s difficult for an offensive lineman to crack this list, let along take the fourth-highest spot, but Wright does just that. He has an ideal frame for a tackle and the skills to go along with it. His pass protection and run blocking skills are both pretty impressive. He should be a cornerstone on the Aztec OL for years to come and will also likely develop into one of the best OL players in the conference.
6. DL Herbert Gums (Boise State)
Gums is excellent off the line of scrimmage as both a pass-rusher and a run-stuffer. He has plus athleticism for a defensive lineman and should add a boost to the interior for Boise State. He is likely to be a fixture along the D-line and garner an all-conference selection or two over the next few years.
7. DE LeShaun Bell (UNLV)
Bell is a big get for the Rebels who are in need of a talent injection. He has a prototypical pass-rusher skillset, an athletic, high-motor player who is fast off the edge, incredibly strong, and doesn’t let go of players once he has a hold on them. He is talented enough to play some snaps next fall and has the potential to be one of the conference leaders in season sacks during his career.
8. TE Austin Bolt (Boise State)
Bolt is one of the most versatile athletes out of all the signees in the conference this year. He played multiple positions on all three facets of the game. He was announced as a tight end, but expect him to be a jack of all trades like Tayson Hill. He will line up wide, get some carries, be a wildcat QB, and be a fixture in trick plays. He could have a role as early as next season and should have a productive career.
9. DB Donovan Clark (Boise State)
Clark brings big-time size and athleticism to the cornerback position. He will have little trouble going up against the taller wide receivers in the conference and should be able to win matchups with them a good chunk of the time. He enters a crowded secondary at Boise State but has the talent to see the field right away and will push for playing time early in his career.
10. RB John Gentry (Utah State)
Gentry checks in as the top running back in the 2020 MWC class and for a good reason. With his ability to run out of the backfield and spread out wide to catch passes, he instantly becomes a primary weapon for the Aggies. He also plays at a position where it will be easy to give him snaps as soon as next season and then watch him blossom into a big playmaker over the course of his career.
Recruits also considered: OL Brandon Hernandez (Boise State), WR Jamir Shepard (Fresno State), DL Blake Burris (Air Force), DL Alven Johnson (UNLV), WR Quin Bright (Hawaii)
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 for flipping 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: Scott, Semaj
Tier 2: Caples, Henderson,
Tier 3: Wright, Gums, Bell
Tier 4: Bolt, Clark, Gentry
Tier 5: Hernandez, Burris, Shepard, Johnson, Bright
- This list includes recruits from five different schools, with Boise State and UNLV leading the way at five and two, respectively. New Mexico, SDSU and Utah State each had one as well.
- This list is pretty balanced, with four defensive recruits and six offensive recruits. Position wise, the list is also spread out pretty evenly, featuring two defensive backs, two RB, two DL, then a LB, WR, TE, and an OL.
- We had a few players on our initial list sign with schools outside the MWC on Wednesday, which necessitated a few of our “also considered” players to move into the top ten. Also, the late announced signings of Henderson shuffled things around as well.
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.