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Peak Perspective: Recruiting Pipelines in the 2021 Class

Looking at how each team did in their recruiting pipeline areas.

In December, we established state and area recruiting pipelines for each team. Here is the December post for reference. Now that teams have finalized their 2021 classes, we analyze how teams recruited in relation to their pipelines. For this post, 2021 Pipelines for states and cities have both existing and new pipelines listed for each team. See below for how each team steered into or away from their established pipelines.

Recruiting is the lifeblood of a college program. Successful recruiting can be due to many factors, including winning tradition, top facilities, and player development. Perhaps the most crucial factor of all, however, is relationships.

Coaches build relationships with players and sell them on turning them into better players and winning seasons. College coaches also build relationships with high school coaches, which can serve a few different purposes. High school coaches can serve as a middle ground between a recruit and a college coach; the recruit already has trust established with his high school coach, and if that coach trusts the college coach, the chance of the recruit trusting the college coach increases. There is also a long-term benefit, as high school coaches can tell their current players which college programs may develop them based on past experiences and steer them to programs where they will succeed. Similarly, high school coaches can be honest with college coaches about how good a player is or how hard they will work. Bottom line: it pays to foster those relationships.

When college programs find sustained success in a particular state, it’s described using the term “recruiting pipeline.” Likewise, college teams can also have pipelines in specific cities or areas of a state or even specific high school programs. This article will examine each of the twelve Mountain West Conference teams’ rosters, looking at the pipelines they may or may not have in states. For this post, city pipelines are used instead of specific high schools because the number of players from a city may point to more accurate success than how often they recruit from a high school.

Overall this article will lay the groundwork for future recruiting articles in the months to come as well as revisiting in the coming years.

It’s important to note that the number of pipelines or even a school having recruiting pipelines isn’t necessarily an indicator of recruiting success, although it does help. Some schools go back to the same states and cities year after year, while other schools recruit more nationally or simply wherever they can find the best talent. None of these approaches are necessarily better than the other.

Keep in mind some of the players from the city the team is located are walk-ons, but that doesn’t mean the program doesn’t have a pipeline in the area. In fact, one could argue it’s more likely they have a pipeline there if players want to walk-on.

Air Force

Note: All of the Air Force pipelines listed are per 247. Thus, they do not reflect every Falcon signee in the 2021 class.

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: Texas (10), California (5), Washington (5), Florida (3), Utah (3), Arizona (2), Ohio (2), Maryland (1)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: New Palestine, IN (2)

Bottom Line: As with any big class, the commits are spread through a number of states. Like other MWC teams, Texas and California appear, as do Washington and Florida. To a lesser degree, so do their smaller pipeline states. Perhaps even more impressively, the Falcons don’t have many city pipelines and didn’t in this class either, aside from a pair of high school teammates in Indiana.

State Pipelines:

Texas (15)

California (9)

Ohio (6)

Colorado (6)

Maryland (4)

Arizona (3)

City pipelines:

Gilbert, AZ (2 players),

San Antonio, TX (2 players)

The Falcons don’t need traditional pipelines as they arguably recruit nationally compared to every other team in the Mountain West. The academy can attract players from all over due to what they offer as a school. If someone is interested in entering the academy, it doesn’t matter where they are from.

Boise State

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: California (5), Colorado (3), Idaho (1), Texas (5), Arizona (1)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: San Diego (2), Lancaster (1), Yorba Linda (1)

Bottom Line: The Broncos went to their familiar pipeline states of California and Texas and then dipped into the local state of Idaho. They probably recruited California a bit less than usual due to that state not playing high school football this fall. Boise State continued to focus on Arizona, which resulted in a pair of teammates being recruited, although only one signed. Lastly, they invested heavily in Colorado this cycle, and their efforts resulted in three commits. Looking at the area pipelines, San Diego was an area where a previous pipeline had not been established. On the other hand, it seems like the lack of in-person recruiting had Boise State rely on established connections in areas like Lancaster and Yorba Linda.

States pipelines:

California (45)

Idaho (15)

Texas (14)

Hawaii (5)

Florida (4)

Nevada (3)

Arizona (3)

Washington (3)

City pipelines:

Boise, ID (7 players)

Kahuku, HI (2 players)

Lancaster HS, Texas (2 players),

Meridian, ID (3 players)

Mission Viejo, CA (2 players)

Murrieta, CA (3 players)

Pasadena, CA (2 players)

Peoria, AZ (2 players)

San Bernardino, CA (2 players)

San Clemente, CA (3 players)

Tacoma, WA (2 players)

Yorba Linda, CA (2 players)

The Broncos hit pretty much every one of the traditional MWC recruiting states. They have always done the majority of their work in California, and these numbers demonstrate it. Being in Idaho, they obviously hit Idaho more than any other team and almost always secure the top players in their state each cycle. Over the past few years, BSU has made more of a concentrated effort to recruit Texas, and it is paying off. They have consistently done well in Hawaii and Arizona, tried (and often failed) to recruit Florida but have seen more recent success there. Sprinkling in Nevada Washington and they hit pretty much all the major states in the West. You may have noticed Utah missing, but they have never been able to get a foothold in that state.

Colorado State

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: Colorado (6), Florida (3), Texas (3), California (2), Nevada (2)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Aurora, CO (3)

Bottom Line: The Rams were one of the few Mountain West teams who spent time recruiting states in the country’s southeastern region. However, in this cycle, they stuck to more traditional Mountain West states. They cleaned up well in their home-town state, dipped into Texas, California, and Nevada while remaining one of the few conference teams that focus heavily on Florida. When it comes to cities, CSU found half of their in-state commits in one place, Aurora.

State pipelines:

Colorado (31)

California (13)

Florida (12)

Georgia (9)

Louisiana (6)

Texas: (5)

City pipelines:

Arvada, CO (4 players)

Castle Rock, CO (2 players)

Colorado Springs (3 players)

Denver, CO (5 players)

Fort Morgan, CO (2 players)

Highlands Ranch, CO (2 players)

Jacksonville, FL (4 players)

Los Angeles, CA (2 players)

Loveland, CO (2 players)

New Orleans, LA (2 players)

Phoenix, AZ (2 players)

Pueblo, CO (2 players)

The Rams have one of the more unique state lists for pipelines. They commit to their in-state talent and, like everyone else, spend time in California. However, while the rest of the conference mainly stays West, CSU looks southeast. This may, in part, be from the current coaching staff, which is used to recruiting in that area of the country. However it came about, it’s working for them, and they don’t always have to compete with their conference-mates.

Fresno State

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: California (14), Nevada (2), Texas (2)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Los Angeles (4), Modesto (2), Lawndale (2), Fresno (1), Long Beach (1), San Diego (1)

Bottom Line: To the surprise of no one, the Bulldogs stayed within California for the bulk of their class while venturing to Nevada and Texas to add what they needed as well. Their lack of signees from Arizona was noticeable, but Hawaii’s absence made sense given the distance and the restrictions in place there. There were many familiar city pipelines in the class within the state, with LA leading the way. Only play from local Fresno was a bit of a surprise considering it’s far and away the most significant pipeline on the roster.

State pipelines:

California (93)

Arizona (3)

Hawaii (3)

Texas (3)

City pipelines:

Bakersfield, CA (5 players)

Clovis, CA (4 players)

Compton, CA (2 players)

Corona, CA (2 players)

Fontana, CA (2 players)

Fresno, CA (15 players)

Long Beach, CA (2 players)

Los Angeles, CA (2 players)

Murrieta, CA (3 players)

Portland, OR (2 players)

Sacramento, CA (2 players)

San Diego, CA (2 players)

Tracy, CA (2 players)

Tulare, CA (3 players)

Being in talent-rich California, Fresno State only recruits outside of their state when they want to. They find more than enough players in different Cali areas but have shown the ability to dip into neighboring states from time to time. Though they are tied for the most players from one state in the conference, they have made inroads in other states which produce talent annually.

Hawaii

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: Texas (9), California (2), Hawaii (2), Louisiana (2), American Samoa (1)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Dallas (3), New Orleans (2), Honolulu (1), Wai’anae (1)

Bottom Line: The Rainbow Warriors have had a pipeline in Texas, but they stepped it up in the class of 2021, increasing the number of players from that state from six to fifteen. California and American Samoa shouldn’t come as any surprise, although Louisiana is. The biggest surprise, however, is only two players from the islands. The lack of local players is hopefully just an anomaly this year. Looking at the cities, the Dallas area brought one-third of their Texas commits, and the New Orleans area was good to the Rainbow Warriors this year as well.

State pipelines:

Hawaii (40)

California (31)

American Samoa (8)

Texas (6)

Florida (3)

City pipelines:

Antioch, CA (2)

Aua, American Samoa (3)

‘Ewa Beach, O’ahu, HI (2)

Honolulu, O’ahu, HI (12)

Houston, TX (2)

Kailua, O’ahu, HI (3)

Kane’ohe, O’ahu, HI (4)

Kapolei, O’ahu, HI (3)

Laie, O’ahu, HI (3)

Lancaster, CA (2)

Leone, American Samoa (2)

Riverside, CA (2)

Wahiawa, O’ahu, HI (2)

Wai’anae, O’ahu, HI (3)

To the surprise of no one, the Hawaii football program gets the majority of their recruits from Hawaii. They can’t always keep the top talent on the islands, but they get enough of the talent. Like everyone else, they also dip into California and get quite a bit from that state. Texas is a mild surprise, while Florida is a significant surprise. The Rainbow Warriors have also taken advantage of proximity and mine for talent in American Samoa, which is often full of athletic projects. They are more diverse than previously thought.

Nevada

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: California (6), Texas (4), Arizona (2), Nevada (2)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Dallas (2), Chandler (1), Las Vegas (1), Reno (1), San Diego (1)

Bottom Line: The Wolf Pack was one of the teams who continued recruiting California at their same pace this class. They leaned more on Texas than home state Nevada this time around, likely because Texas played high school football and Nevada did not. They did not seem to recruit Hawaii this time around. Outside of LA and Vegas, the Wolf Pack doesn’t have too many city pipelines, but they continued the Vegas one this time around.

State pipelines:

California (61)

Nevada (11)

Texas (8)

Arizona (5)

Hawaii (5)

City pipelines:

Bakersfield, CA (2)

Chandler, AZ (2)

Compton, CA (3)

Dallas, TX (2)

Encino, CA (2)

Fresno, CA (2)

Harbor City, CA (2)

Honolulu, HI (3)

Lancaster, CA (3)

Las Vegas, NV (5)

Lincoln, NE (2)

Los Angeles, CA (9)

Rancho Cucamonga, CA (2)

Reno, NV (4)

Sacramento, CA (3)

San Diego, CA (2)

San Jose, CA (2)

Scottsdale, AZ (2)

Springfield, OR (2)

Vacaville, CA (2)

It is a bit of a surprise that Nevada does not recruit their state as much as they do other states. It’s still their second-largest recruiting state, but it’s much closer to third than first. Instead, they put almost all of their efforts into California, and it pays dividends. Other than that, they don’t have too much unique about them. They hit Arizona, which makes sense, as well as Texas and Hawaii, all traditional Mountain West recruiting states. Thus, it all makes sense.

New Mexico

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: Texas (9), New Mexico (4), California (3), Arizona (3)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Fort Worth (2), El Paso (2), Rio Rancho (1)

Bottom Line: The Lobos don’t have many recruiting roots, but they took a step forward towards solidifying them in this cycle. Except for Florida, they stuck to the states with existing pipelines, although Texas and California switched places in the pecking order. Looking at the cities, they made new inroads in the Fort Worth and El Paso areas while going back to the Rio Rancho well.

State pipelines:

California (32)

New Mexico (24)

Texas (12)

Arizona (5)

Florida (4)

City pipelines:

Albuquerque, NM (13)

Bellflower, CA (2)

Compton, CA (2)

Gilbert, AZ (2)

Huntsville, TX (2)

Las Vegas, NV (2)

Los Lunas, NM (2)

Morgan Hill, CA (2)

Pearland, TX (2)

Rio Rancho, NM (5)

San Bernardino, CA (2)

The Lobos turn to California to find the majority of their players. However, a close second is home-state New Mexico. While not known for churning out tons of top-end talent each year, it’s important not to let the top in-state talent leave the state. They are neighbors with Texas and Arizona, so it’s good to see those states getting a lot of attention from the Lobos. Florida is a bit of a surprise, but in a good way as it shows they are committed to finding players where they can.

San Diego State

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: California (11), Texas (7), Nevada (2), Arizona (1)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: San Diego (3), Las Vegas (2)

Bottom Line: The Aztecs put together a great class this year and did so by sticking to their home-state, even when many other teams were focusing elsewhere. How they recruited California was different, only sticking to local San Diego in terms of traditional pipelines and gaining commits from the north and the south of the state. Like many other MWC teams, they steered clear of Hawaii this time around and maybe spent less time in Arizona. On the other hand, they continued their recruiting work in Nevada, particularly in Vegas.

State pipelines:

California (77)

Nevada (9)

Arizona (6)

Texas (4)

Hawaii (3)

City pipelines:

Antioch, CA (2)

Carlsbad, CA (3)

Chula Vista, CA (4)

Compton, CA (2)

Honolulu, HI (2)

Las Vegas, NV (5)

Los Angeles, CA (2)

Norwalk, CA (2)

Palm Springs, CA (2)

Reno, NV (3)

San Diego, CA (15)

Santa Ana, CA (2)

Temecula, CA (2)

Turlock, CA (2)

The Aztecs understandably don’t have to leave the state much at all, instead choosing to recruit right in their own backyard for most of their recruits. Although they do seem to hit Nevada pretty well, almost as well as the two MWC schools in Nevada. San Diego State also dips into a few traditional Mountain West states (Arizona, Texas, and Hawaii) to fill out their class ranks.

San Jose State

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: California (11)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Fresno (2)

Bottom Line: San Jose State was another team with a small recruiting class this year. Due to this, it seems they consolidated their efforts and pretty much stuck to California. However, they did go all the way to Illinois for a signee. Surprisingly, they did not recruit much in the bay area, which has been their main focus as long as Coach Brennan and Coach Carter have been around. Instead, they found a pair of signees from Fresno and also dipped into SoCal a bit.

State pipelines:

California (93)

Arizona (3)

Texas (2)

City pipelines:

Antioch, CA (3)

Burbank, CA (2)

East Palo Alto, CA (3)

Elk Grove, CA (2)

Gardena, CA (2)

Hayward, CA (2)

Los Angeles, CA (3)

Malibu, CA (2)

Milpitas, CA (3)

Mission Viejo, CA (2)

Murrieta, CA (2)

Oakland, CA (2)

Sacramento, CA (5)

Salinas, CA (2)

San Jose, CA (7)

Stockton, CA (4)

Temecula, CA (2)

The Spartans rarely leave California for their new talent, and quite frankly, they haven’t needed to. They are in a talent-rich area with the Bay and have committed to mining it for their players for years. They have been an under the radar good recruiting team in the conference, which becomes pretty easy when there is little need to leave their own backyard.

UNLV

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: California (9), Texas (6), Hawaii (2), Nevada (1)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Grand Prairie (2), Houston (1), Las Vegas (1)

Bottom Line: The Rebels stuck to the traditional westerns recruiting states in this cycle. After establishing a consistent presence in the Pacific Northwest over the years, they didn’t get any commits there in this cycle. The same goes for their work in Arizona. On the other hand, they cleaned up in California and Texas and did more work in Hawaii than most everyone else. UNLV continued mining three of their Texas pipeline cities and, of course, continued in backyard Las Vegas.

State pipelines

California (41)

Nevada (15)

Texas (7)

Arizona (6)

Washington (4)

Hawaii (3)

Oregon (3)

City pipelines:

Bakersfield, CA (2 players)

Columbia, SC (2 players)

Encino, CA (2 players)

Hawthorne, CA (2 players)

Henderson, NV (2 players)

Houston, TX (2 players)

Inglewood, CA (2 players)

Las Vegas, NV (15 players)

Los Angeles, CA (2 players)

Oxnard, CA (2 players)

Portland, OR (2 players)

San Diego, CA (2 players)

Scottsdale, AZ (2 players)

Seattle, WA (2 players)

Temecula, CA (2 players)

Thousand Oaks, CA (2 players)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Rebels do the bulk of their recruiting in the state of California. They clean up in Nevada as well, leading the way among the schools which heavily recruit there. They feature the traditional recruiting beds of Texas, Arizona, and Hawaii and the minority of schools that can snag recruits from Pacific Northwest states like Oregon and Washington.

Utah State

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: Utah (8), Texas (4), California (2), Florida (1), Washington (1)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Salt Lake City (3), Smithfield (1), South Jordan (1)

Bottom Line: The Aggies have a wall around Utah as far as the rest of the Mountain West is concerned, and this cycle was no different. Their biggest state pipeline and all of their city pipelines were in their home-state. Also, they stay within their normal scope of Texas, California, Florida, and even Washington. Although Oregon dropped off the radar.

State pipelines:

Utah (34)

California (25)

Oregon (7)

Florida (6)

Texas (6)

Arizona (3)

Washington (3)

City pipelines:

Anaheim, CA (2)

Houston, TX (2)

Orem, UT (3)

Portland, OR (2)

Provo, UT (2)

Salt Lake City, UT (9)

Sandy, UT (6)

Smithfield, UT (2)

South Jordan, UT (3)

As expected, the Aggies pick up most of their talent from in-state Utah, a fertile recruiting state. Along with every other MWC school, they find many California players, plus other standard states like Texas and Arizona. On the other hand, they are one of the few schools to glean from the Pacific Northwest (although they are closer than other schools) and, perhaps more surprising, have numerous Florida players.

Wyoming

States pipelines in the 2021 Class: Texas (8), Nebraska (4), Illinois (2), California (1), Colorado (1), Wyoming (1)

City pipelines in the 2021 Class: Houston (2), Lancaster (2), Omaha (1), Parker (1)

Bottom Line: The Cowboys have always cast a wide net with state pipelines, and they stayed true to that this year. They led with Texas players and made California take a backseat, continuing that pattern among conference teams. They also staked claims in Nebraska and Illinois. Their work in Texas, Nebraska, and Colorado were all in familiar areas where they have had recent success.

State pipelines:

California (24)

Colorado (23)

Wyoming (21)

Texas (15)

Nebraska (10)

Illinois (6)

Minnesota (4)

Wisconsin (3)

City pipelines:

Arvanda, CO (2 players)

Aurora, CO (4 players)

Buffalo, WY (2 players)

Casper, WY (4 players)

Colorado Springs, CO (2 players)

Denver, CO (2 players)

Fort Worth, TX (3 players)

Houston, TX (3 players)

Laramie, WY (2 players)

Loveland, CO (2 players)

Oak Park, IL (2 players)

Omaha, NE (3 players)

Parker, CO (2 players)

Sacramento, CA (3 players)

Sheridan, WY (3 players)

Torrington, WY (2 players)

Windsor, CO (3 players)

Wyoming has some. of the most non-traditional pipeline states compared to the rest of the Mountain West, mainly due to Bohl’s time at North Dakota State. They are the only program to recruit the midwest with any regularity and do so pretty well. Surprisingly they still recruit the traditional MWC states, and the Cowboys recruit those pretty well too.

Conclusion:

Again, the number of pipelines a school has or even a specific state or city pipeline does not equal success in and of itself. Instead, this data gathering should be seen more as the foundation and approach each school takes in recruiting. Use this post as a reference when looking at a team’s recruiting class each season. Suppose a team compiles a class with fewer players from a state they typically recruit well in or signs several players from a state they usually don’t recruit in. In that case, it may point to a poor recruiting year or a newfound focus in a different area. Likewise, if a school lands a player from a city or area they have signed players in recent years, it could be due to the relationship they have built over the years.