Being a Group of 5 conference, the Mountain West recruits any player who can help to complete their recruiting classes. However, not every player ends up playing for a team in the Mountain West. There are a few factors that make a recruit a “Mountain West” type of player. Geography, for instance, plays a big role in a conference that resides in the western part of the country. However, like anything, there are always exceptions.
With that being said, this post looks at four main categories most players in the Mountain West Conference fit into: High Profile, Highly Targetted, Undersized, Underrecruited. Check out the story below for the details behind each category.
Note: I tried to find an example from every team in every category. If a team was excluded, it wasn’t intentional. It was because of my lack of knowledge of a player.
The “I can’t believe we landed this guy” type of player.
These are the players who held multiple Power 5 offers and from some high-profile types of schools. Perhaps three to five times each recruiting cycle, a recruit of this nature lands in the Mountain West. They are usually four-stars, or else highly-rated three-stars. They are the recruits that teams are instantly praised for landing. The recruit himself has mammoth expectations placed on him from day one, and they more often than not develop into difference-makers for the team.
The players in this category are regularly seen as long-shots to join a Mountain West program but are the reason why the phrase “never say never” exists.
Examples: Kyle Patterson, Khalil Shakir, Scott Patchan, Jalen Cropper, Lincoln Victor, Clay Millen, Nathaniel Jones, Josh Simmons, Jay Kakiva, Nick Dimitris, John Gentry, Alonzo Hall.
The third or fourth-best player on his high school team player
The highly targeted group are the type of players who are low on the boards of Power 5 schools (aka a backup plan) but are at the top of a board at a Mountain West school. This means that the MWC school is recruiting them earlier and harder than other schools, so they win out the majority of the time. These are very talented players, but they are a tier below the players in the category above. Some become quality college starters or all-conference types, while a few continue developing and blossoming into stars. If comparing this category to the one above, the difference would be that although their floor is more or less the same, either their ceiling is not quite as high or else their ceiling isn’t realized as often.
These players may have held a handful of Power 5 offers, but the ones who are on par or worse than many Group of 5 schools. It is usually a coin-flip if they end up committing to one of the P5 schools or a MWC school. Each Mountain West program typically secures an average of two to five of these type of players a year. Some teams, like Boise State or San Diego State, fill the majority of their classes with these types of players.
Examples: Adam Karas, JL Skinner, Trey McBride, Jordan Hornbeak, Solo Vaipulu, Toa Taua, Keyonta Lanier, Kobah Fuamatu, Tysyn Parker, Kamren Blanton, Kevin Meitzenheimer, Savon Scarver, DQ James.
The “lacks ideal measurables” player.
These are the football players with a large of amount of talent, perhaps close to or a tier under the categories listed above. However, they aren’t as physically gifted. Perhaps they are few inches too short compared to the ideal size for the position. Maybe they lack elite speed, or their frames can’t carry as much muscle as other players. In some cases, they may just need a year or two to develop to add weight, and other teams may not want to be patient.
The players who fall under this category likely don’t have as many Power 5 offers as other players. Most blue-blood programs, as well as other teams who recruit well, would instead take the player with better measurable if two players grade out equally from a skill standpoint. This means undersized players are passed over not for their ability but for their size. Due to this, they usually end up as key players in Group of 5 schools like the Mountain West Conference.
Examples: Tre Bugg, Kekaula Kaniho, Dante Wright, Mac Dalena, Quin Bright, Melquan Stovall, Ray Leutele, Jordan Byrd, Cade Hall, Tyleek Collins, Elelyon Noa, Chad Muma.
The “true diamond in the rough” player
Most people are familiar with the player who is commonly referred to as a diamond in the rough. These are the players who went underrecruited for various reasons. Maybe they played in an area that isn’t known for producing D1-level football recruits. Or perhaps they played on a team that wasn’t good, and coaches didn’t come out to see them. Regardless of the reason, they went largely unnoticed.
These players probably didn’t have more than a handful of total FBS offers. They have had some lower-level offers as well, and they just as easily had no college offers but joined a team as a walk-on. While sometimes they can find a key role on a college football team, they often become solid roster depth and core special teams players. Mountain West teams can sometimes afford to take a flier on a project type of player and develop them over the course of a few seasons, turning the coal into diamonds by making them into a solid contributor.
Examples: Brad Roberts, Avery Wilson, Bam Amina, Ronnie Rivers, Darius Muasau, Cole Turner, Benji Johnson, Cameron Thomas, Tyler Nevins, Charles Williams, Deven Thompkins, Xazavian Valladay.
Your turn: These are four common categories of Mountain West players. Do any others come to mind? Join the discussion in the comments section below.