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Peak Perspective: Reviewing the MWC 2018 Recruiting Class

Did the projections for the class of 2018 come to fruition?

With signing day today, this week’s Peak Perspective will take on a recruiting theme. When I started doing recruited-related posts in February of 2018, I had the thought that reviewing them in a few years would be a fun exercise. Today, that thought will finally come to fruition.

This post will review our projections from the class of 2018. As everyone should know, recruiting is not an exact science. Much like the weather, rankings and projections are based on the best info had at the time. Just because it’s not perfectly accurate doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial. With that being said, this post is probably for both the “recruiting rankings are awesome” group, as well as the “stars, don’t matter” people, as both will be justified in this post. Looking back at the class of 2018, it will show that some players who were projected to be impact players fulfilled that potential. Also, some didn’t come close at all to doing so. And, some players were late-bloomers or diamonds in the rough, greatly exceeding their expectations. It’s a fun exercise to do with a new class signing their letters of intent today.

For those who wish to look back, here are the early signing day thread and signing day thread from this class. Also, the MWCConnection All-Mountain West recruit team and top 10 players posts from 2018.

Air Force disclaimer: It looks like I wasn’t great at tracking Air Force commits in my initial season doing it. My apologies. Due to that, Air Force will not be properly represented in this post. But for our readers who are well-versed in all things AFA, please feel free to comment with your thoughts.

The MWC 2018 All-Recruit Team


  • Riley Smith (Boise State): Moved to TE without ever seeing the field as a QB. Has done pretty well at his new position all things considered.
  • Missed: QB Carson Strong

Running back

  • Andrew VanBuren (Boise State): He didn’t fulfill his 4-star status, but he has carved out a nice role as a short-yardage back who piles up touchdowns.
  • Toa Taua (Nevada): Taua has been great as the primary RB in the air-raid system, able to keep defenses honest with his running ability.
  • Missed: None

Wide Receiver

  • JR Justice (SDSU): A big-time recruit who transferred after his first season.
  • Khalil Shakir (Boise State): A star from his first season, Shakir had a great college career and now an NFL future.
  • Nikko Hall (CSU): Hall played right away and showed a lot of promise. But then he got into some off the field issues three games into his sophomore season.
  • Stefan Cobbs (Boise State): Cobbs finally got consistent playing time this season and made good use of it, producing solid numbers.
  • Missed: WR Romeo Doubs, WR Devin Thompkins

Tight End

  • Tyneil Hopper (Boise State): Hopper was a big-time recruit and signing day surprise. This year was the first year he got meaningful snaps and emerged as a reliable pass-catcher, but not a dominating force.
  • Nic McTear (SDSU): He transferred after a redshirt year.
  • Missed: TE Trey McBride, TE Cole Turner, TE Dan Bellinger

Offensive Line

  • Max Barth (SJSU): Barth redshirted his first year at San Jose State and then transferred.
  • Kavesz Sherard (CSU): Sherard spent two seasons at Colorado State before transferring after not seeing any game action.
  • Anthony Pardue (SJSU): He has been a solid backup lineman in his time with the team, but hasn’t started any games.
  • Kekaniokoa Gonzalez (Boise State): Solid player when healthy. They got the kind of player they envisioned.
  • Solo Vaipulu (Hawaii): Vaipulu has been excellent since day one. He started every game as a true freshman and has been a starter every game he’s been healthy enough to play in.
  • Missed: OL Ilm Manning, OL William Dunkle, OL Frank Crum, OL Alama Uluave

Defensive Tackle

  • Scale Igiehon (BSU): He’s been a force since early in his career when he’s on the field. He’s lived up to his hype.
  • Devin Phillips (CSU): Phillips has been everything the program wanted him to be. He saw the field immediately as a freshman and has started every game of his career than he’s been healthy enough to play in through his first three seasons. And the production has been there as well.
  • Blessman Taala (Hawaii): Another player who has been a starter from day one of his true freshman season and has been a rock along the defensive line during his time at Hawaii.
  • Missed: DL Keshawn Banks, DL Cam Thomas

Defensive End

  • Kukea Emmsley (Boise State): He played one game in two seasons before transferring.
  • Jonah Kahahawai-Welch (Hawaii): He has a promising freshman season and then was sidelined with injuries in the following seasons.
  • Missed: DE Dimitri Sakalia, OL Cade Hall


  • Isaak Togia (SJSU): A big signing for the Spartans at the time, it hasn’t fully come to fruition in college. He has been a steady presence as a reserve and special teamer and had done well.
  • Brandon Hawkins (Boise State): Hawkins was a tackle machine in high school. He has been mostly utilized on special teams during his college career but has been reliable in that role.
  • Isaiah Johnson (Fresno State): Johnson played right away for the Bulldogs. He has started off and on while battling injuries. But he has played well when he’s been able to play.
  • Missed: LB Cam’ron Carter, LB Charles Hicks, LB Kyle Harmon, LB Khoury Bethley, S Chad Muma


  • Chris Mitchell (Boise State): Mitchell battled injuries during his time in college and had to medically retire before seeing any action.
  • Tyric LeBeauf (Boise State): LeBeauf was also injured his first few seasons. He finally got healthy and was a starter this past season and played very well, flashing the potential everyone knew he possessed.
  • Missed: None


  • Josiah Bradley (Nevada): Bradley has played sparingly during his college career so far, but playing time has increased each season.
  • Tywan Francis (CSU): Francis has seen the field every year, mostly as a backup, and has been steady in that role.
  • Missed: DB Tre Jenkins

All MWC JUCO Recruit Team:

Most of these players did not make a significant impact for their teams after transferring. Max Gilliam was a big name who fizzled out, while the plethora of players transferring to New Mexico failed to make the type of impact the program needed. However, some did make an impact. John Hightower had two great years at Boise State, which led to being drafted by the NFL. Cedric Byrd, DJ Williams, and Tyson Dyer had all-MWC years during their years with their respective teams.

QB Max Gilliam (UNLV)

RB Darwin Thompson (Utah State)

WR John Hightower (Boise State)

WR Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)

TE Jeffrey Jones Jr (New Mexico)

OL Moses Landis (Nevada)

OL Korey Mariboho (SJSU)

OL Tre Bland (New Mexico)

OL Jarred Sylvester (New Mexico)

OL Kyler Hack (Utah State)

OLL Nick Abbs (Fresno State)

DT Moa Heimuli (UNLV),

DT Tristan Nichols (Nevada)

DE Trent Sellers (New Mexico)

DE Derek Thomas (Hawaii)

LB Alexander Vainikolo (New Mexico)

DB Nathaniel Vaughn (Nevada)

DB Jalen Nelson (SJSU)

DB DJ Williams (Utah State)

DB Myles Plummer (UNLV)

Special Teams: P Tyson Dyer (New Mexico)

Top 10 Players from the 2018 recruiting class

1. WR Khalil Shakir (Boise State)

2. WR JR Justice (SDSU)

3. WR Nikko Hall (Colorado State)

4. TE Tyneil Hopper (Boise State)

5. RB Andrew Van Buren (Boise State)

6. DB Chris Mitchell (Boise State)

7. WR Stefan Cobbs (Boise State)

8. DE Kukea Emmsley (Boise State)

9. LB Isaak Togia (SJSU)

10. WR Jammal Houston (Colorado State)

10B. Toa Taua (Nevada)

Revised Top 10 List

1. QB Carson Strong (Nevada)

2. WR Khalil Shakir (Boise State)

3. TE Trey McBride (Colorado State)

4. S (LB) Chad Muma (Wyoming)

5. DL Cam Thomas (San Diego State)

6. WR Romeo Doubs (Nevada)

7. WR Deven Thompkins (Utah State)

8. TE Cole Turner (Nevada)

9. RB Toa Taua (Nevada)

10. (TIE) LB Kyle Harmon, LB Khoury Bethley