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Peak Perspective: Realistic Four Year Recruiting Expectations For Each Program

Setting standards for each of the 12 teams.

Fresno State v UNLV Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Today’s column and all the Wednesday columns for this month will be recruiting themed.

Traditional recruiting rankings are nice, but they don’t come close to telling the entire story. Even if a team recruits better the next year, their ranking may actually be lower if enough teams also recruit better. What makes the most sense is comparing teams to themselves year to year or setting recruiting expectations over a cycle to see if teams can reach them. Standards are given in an attempt to be attainable goals, based on what they have done in recent years and what is projected for their current coaching staff. This is far from an exact science, but it’s the start of a worthwhile experiment to identify how programs are doing in the recruiting world.

See below for the four-year recruiting cycle expectations of each team.

Air Force

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 110
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 98
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 45 (keep in mind they have more total commits than other teams)
  • Bottom Line: It’s been stated many times before, but the Falcons care less about recruiting rankings than anyone. With their academic standard requirements and the focus on the talent fitting the system, it’s a different recruiting approach. Still, finding the best talent within those limitations is vital to maintaining the success they have built.

Boise State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 60
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 50
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 6
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 75
  • Bottom Line: The Broncos regularly battle with Power 5 teams for recruits, and their standards should reflect that. They get at least one four-star prospect for most years, and the vast majority of their class are rated as three-stars. For Boise State, they should also regularly have classes rated somewhere in the 50s, given how they secure well-rounded classes from top to bottom. Doing it consistently is a challenging but achievable standard for them.

Colorado State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 90
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 75
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 1
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 55
  • Bottom Line: The Rams are a tricky team to project expectations on. They recruited very well under Bobo, and although it isn’t quite the same under Addazio, they found a handful of talented players in this class. While not a certainty, one could imagine Colorado State being able to land a top conference player or two in each class. They are a safe bet to out-recruit their on the field performances, but the sample size is a bit too small to make too many inferences.

Fresno State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 88
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 75
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 1
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 58
  • Bottom Line: Fresno State’s recruiting efforts under DeBoer are dwarfing those of his predecessor, Jeff Tedford. In the old regime, they also seemed capable of more on the recruiting trail. They lived up to their potential in the 2021 class. Their four-year standards find common ground somewhere in the middle, with a lean towards DeBoer and what he seems likely to continue to do. It’s very possible the Bulldogs eclipse these numbers fairly easily, but a larger sample size is needed before too high of expectations are placed on them.

Hawaii

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 123
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 112
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 38
  • Bottom Line: Hawaii is a tough place to recruit, and Coach Graham is either realizing that or is still in the early stages of a long-term recruiting plan, as the Rainbow Warriors have been near the bottom of the conference recruiting rankings. Considering the challenges Hawaii faces, as well as their past recruiting rankings, expectations are reasonably low. Still, they need to be met and surpassed if they want any chance to make more of an impact in recruiting.

Nevada

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 100
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 80
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 50
  • Bottom Line: Nevada has recruited more or less around the middle of the conference, which is pretty much proportional with their success of being a bowl team. However, they seem to have plateaued and need to find a way to take the next step. The Wolf Pack seem capable of more, but until they demonstrate what that is, their expectations will basically be set at maintaining the status quo.

New Mexico

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 97
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 93
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 45
  • Bottom Line: The Lobos are pretty new to recruiting intentionally, and due to this, they are still largely an unknown. Over the past two cycles, their recruiting efforts have been steady, although unspectacular (which is spectacular considering what their classes looked like previously). Two cycles is still a small sample size, and their potential is still high, but as they are already obliterating their old expectations, New Mexico can afford to go at a slow and steady pace for now.

San Diego State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 80
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 65
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 2
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 60
  • Bottom Line: After being a middle of the conference team when it comes to recruiting, the Aztecs have kicked it up a notch under Hoke. Their 2021 class seems more in line with the success on the field as one of the perennial top teams in the Mountain West. There is no reason they can’t grab a four-star or two every few years while piling up on three-stars. While the numbers are still relatively modest, they would also represent a productive increase in the program’s recruiting efforts.

San Jose State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 105
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 90
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 47
  • Bottom Line: San Jose State has long been a team that recruited better than they should have based on their (lack of) success on the field. Now that they have had success, the recruiting needs to be taken up a notch. Expectations aren’t drastically increased here yet because it is staying proportional to their recent sample size, but the Spartans do need to raise the bar to sustain their success, as recruiting is the foundation of a program. Given their coaching staff, the area they are in, and now their success on the field, it will be interesting to see how quickly they can reach and move past these benchmarks.

UNLV

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 75
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 65
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 4
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 63
  • Bottom Line: The Rebels look like a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail under Arroyo. They have put together back to back classes in the top ranks of the conference, and they have also landed some of the best individual recruits in the entire conference. As UNLV rebuilds, it is essential they continue their strong recruiting efforts, as it gives them an edge amongst their conference peers. Even if they simply continue their 2020/2021 efforts, they would meet these standards with little issue.

Utah State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 120
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 110
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 40
  • Bottom Line: Recruiting is much more challenging to be consistent with when facing a coaching changing just two years after the last coaching change. That’s the struggle Coach Anderson faces now, and since he wasn’t given much time to build the 2021 class, he can’t start to be evaluated in recruiting until the class of 2022. For the Aggies, their first step is (re)establishing recruiting ties and filling out classes with their needs. Due to those needs, their recruiting expectations are set lower. They should be able to meet those expectations, and it is essential that they do.

Wyoming

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 115
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 95
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 48
  • Bottom Line: The Cowboys have employed a methodical recruiting approach under Bohl, one focused on player development. It has worked for them, but it is far from flashy. They appeared to be taking a step forward in their 2020 class, but it didn’t necessarily carry over in 2021. Currently, there isn’t a wide gap between their best and worst classes over a four-year cycle. That should be Wyoming’s focus and the next step in their efforts, which seems attainable.

These are the current recruiting expectations for each of the twelve Mountain West Conference teams. Each year, they will be reviewed and perhaps tweaked and adjusted as each team’s data changes. Follow along from year to year as patterns are established, and teams improve or diminish the quality of their recruiting classes.