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Revisiting the Boise State 2017 Class Part 4: Defensive End and Special Teams

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 UConn at Boise State Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to a fun off-season series that Drew (of OBNUG), Zach, and Mike (both of MWCConnection) are rolling out for your viewing enjoyment (hopefully). Back in February, excitement was at an all time high for fans and coaches alike as the 2021 class was officially signed. Like every year, fans often tout a class as potentially one of the best on paper. However, once players get on campus and actually on the field, the true story begins to reveal itself. It can often take years for a class to truly be judged as the impact of many players won’t be seen for a few seasons. That being said, this series will aim to revisit and evaluate Boise State’s 2017 class. There has now been enough time that many members of the class have either left or are entering their final seasons, which means players are able to be looked at for their production (or lack thereof) rather than projection and hype.

Anyway, each week, Drew, Zach, and Mike will look at a different position group from the class. While we will contribute two posts each week over the next month, the location of the posts will change. The start of the week will feature a post on OBNUG while the end of the week will see a post up on MWCConnection, that way readers of both sites can follow along. Each post will have all of us weighing in on the same talking points for each season: our expectations of the player from when they signed, the production they gave each season on the team, and their overall impact. The impact will fit into one of 3 categories (exceeded expectations, met expectations, or below expectations). We will each keep a running tally of our totals and then at the end we can each determine the over impact the 2017 class had. It should be a fun and interesting study to see what kind of careers each player had and revisit some names that may have been forgotten.

The 2017 recruiting class is in some ways a bridge between the two stages of recruiting during the Harsin era. The first few classes (which we have reviewed the past few years) were somewhat top-heavy, meaning some talented headliners and then more unheralded prospects filling out the rest of the ranks. The final three classes were a noticeable step up, possessing star-power and the back half of the class could be categorized as a high-floor. The 2017 class is right in the middle of that progression, taking a step forward in both overall talent as well as top to bottom depth. In fact, it was a strong class on paper at the time, even if it was immediately overshadowed by the 2018 class. To hear our thoughts on specific players from the class, read below.

Part Four highlights two positions where each only secured a single player in this class. One is the defensive line, with one of the more original recruiting stories in this class. And the other is a punter who was on the team, but everyone may have forgotten.

Aisa Kelemete

Drew

Expectations when he signed - Sky high. Kelemete was not quite as heavily-recruited as his Highland teammate Tommy Togiai (just drafted in the 4th round to Cleveland), but he was no slouch either. He committed early to Boise State, backed off and pledged to Washington State and then came BACK to Boise State before signing day (a signing day where USC tried to snipe him yet again).

2017 Season - DNP

2018 Season - Missed season due to injury

2019 Season - Played in 3 games

2020 Season - Uh, DNP?

Overall Impact - I feel really bad that Kelemete has not panned out and mainly because the culprit seems to be largely injury-related. If a dude is just a knucklehead or something at least you can say that they had a hand in things, but Kelemete has been super unlucky with injuries and the show, as they say, has gone on. Failed to meet expectations.

Zach

Expectations when he signed: Very high! Aisa recruitment was interesting to say the least. He committed to the Broncos, then to Washington State, then back to Boise State. He had a late USC offer as well.

2017 Season: Redshirted

2018 Season: Missed the season due to injury

2019 Season: Played in three games seeing limited action.

2020 Season: Did not see the field. Sounds like it may have been injury-related.

Overall Impact: Kelemete was expected to play a role this past season, but never really saw the field. He was largely on the inactive list. He was expected to be an elite pass rusher. It just hasn’t panned out to this point. So I have to go with failed to meet expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed: Aisa was more of the more unique recruiting stories that year in all of college football. He originally committed to Boise State. He then flipped to Washington State. However, his position coach left and he reached back out to Boise State, who believed him to be sincere (which was not the case with that coaching staff any other recruit who decommitted by the way) and he ended up visited in January. He recommitted during his January visit (and that commitment was broken by someone you may know. Don’t know why I can’t find the actual tweet). He also resisted a Signing Day Eve offer to USC. After all that, I thought he was a major get for the Broncos and would dominate on the Blue.

2017 Season: Kelemete redshirted, which was a bit unexpected due to his level of talent, but there was depth there.

2018 Season: He lost a battle with the injury bug and did not play that season.

2019 Season: Aisa got in a limited number of games in a limited role making a limited impact.

2020 Season: Again he did not see the field. Another round with the injury bug?

Overall Impact: Unfortunately, Kelemete’s recruiting story has been significantly better than the story of his college career. He has 1-2 seasons left, depending on how much eligibility he wants to use. Is 2021 the year he begins to make an impact? Time will tell. However, as of right now, he has failed to meet expectations.

Brandon Heicklen

Drew

Expectations when he signed - I had to google him to remember who he was, so not super high.

2017 Season - Oh, that guy? Yeah, he transferred to “the mesa” or whatever they call it.

2018 Season - Still gone

2019 Season - Gone

2020 Season - Stayed gone.

Overall Impact - Nada, zip, zero, AND zilch. Failed to meet expectations.

Zach

Expectations when he signed: I hoped we had a really good punter, but didn’t really know what to expect.

2017 Season: Transferred to San Diego State after spring practice, where he became a solid punter for the Aztecs.

2018 Season: N/A

2019 Season: N/A

2020 Season: N/A

Overall Impact: Not sure what to say here other than he failed to meet expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed: I included him because he was listed on the 247 signing class for Boise State. Like Kelemete, he also has an interesting recruiting story. Anyway, I thought Heicklen would walk on and be a dependable punter for the Broncos.

2017 Season: He joined the team in spring and likely didn’t perform well in those practices because he left the program and ended up at San Diego State. He became their starting punter instantly.

2018 Season: N/A

2019 Season: N/A

2020 Season: N/A

Overall Impact: While he clearly failed to meet expectations for Boise State, it seems like he is exceeding expectations for San Diego State. So that’s something.

Running Totals:

Drew: 2 exceeded expectations, 1 met expectations, 7 failed to meet expectations

Zach: 1 exceeded expectations, 1 met expectations, 8 failed to meet expectations.

Mike: 1 exceeded expectations, 2 met expectations, 7 failed to meet expectations.