The idea for this post came back in February, somewhere during the other twenty or more recruiting posts we featured. However, due to the time needed for all of those posts and then focusing on other news and topics for a while, this idea kept getting pushed back. But no longer.
It only makes sense to review which teams are recruiting the best in each state. After all, recruiting is one of the most significant ways to define if a program succeeds or fails. Given how often a player usually holds offers from many or most of the Mountain West teams, programs are competing against one another for recruits more often than not. While this isn’t accurate in every case (Boise State and New Mexico probably aren’t going head to head for a recruit, for example), it’s true more often than not.
This is not looking at the total number of states a team did or didn’t win. Instead, the emphasis is placed on which team is doing the best in each state. This post focuses more on the in-state recruiting battles as opposed to a team’s strategy to recruit a few or many different states.
For a state to be considered, it had to fall under one of a few categories. Some states are traditional Mountain West recruiting states, such as California, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Utah, and the like. Similarly, other states are listed here because they are the home state of a team in the Mountain West, such as Idaho, New Mexico, or Wyoming. Lastly, a few states are listed for at least this year because either two teams recruited at least one player from the state or one team recruits at least two players from the state. Illinois and Nebraska are examples of this.
Recruiting success or “winning” the state is determined by both quality and quantity. The quality of recruiting a state is determined by the number of players a team signed in one state. The quality of their recruiting is defined by the number of three stars (or four stars) among their signees. As can be seen below, some states had more prominent recruiting battles than others.
Note: Transfer players were not considered for the purposes of this article, as they are not recruited from their home state.
Number of total players: 70
Number from each school: 12 (SDSU), 12 (UNLV), 10 (Fresno State), 10 (SJSU), 6 (Nevada), 5 (Air Force), 5 (Boise State), 5 (New Mexico), 2 (Colorado State), 2 (Utah State), 1 (Wyoming)
Number of 3 stars: 41 (11 SDSU with 1 four-star, 9 SJSU, 6 Nevada, 4 Boise State, 4 New Mexico, 2 Air Force, 2 Colorado State, 1 Utah State, 1 Wyoming)
Consensus: California has always been seen as the top MWC state for recruiting, and this year was no exception, even though the total number of signees was down a bit this year. This makes sense with three of the teams being in-state. Every team except for Hawaii signed at least one player from Cali, and four teams signed double-digit recruits. Boise State has a strong showing in their recruiting efforts, and the Bulldogs was only a half-step below the team that “won” the state. With no offense to those teams, another team eclipsed everyone else not named Fresno State with relative ease. San Diego State was able to secure the top talent in their class by keeping some of the top talent in the state home.
Number of total players: 60
Number from each school: 10 (Air Force), 9 (New Mexico), 8 (Wyoming), 6 (Hawaii), 6, UNLV, 5 (Boise State), 5 (SDSU), 4 (Nevada), 3 (Colorado State), 2 (Fresno State), 2 (Utah State)
Number of 3 stars: 51 (9 New Mexico, 8 Wyoming, 6 UNLV, 5 Air Force, 5 Boise State, 5 SDSU, 4 Hawaii, 4 Nevada, 3 Colorado State, 2 Fresno State)
Consensus: While Texas has long been a big recruiting state in the Mountain West, it was even more of a priority this year, with California not playing high school football in the fall. This is evident by eleven of twelve teams in the conference picking up recruits from the state in this class. The Falcons led the way in commits, although the Lobos were right behind them, and all of theirs registered as three-stars. The same goes for the Cowboys with their eight commits. The Rebels got some of the top talent in this class from this state. Even the Aztecs left their home-state and did solid work in Texas. However, it was the Broncos who won the state in this cycle. They made their five commits count, with their five possessing a higher rating than every other team’s first and second-highest-rated commits, which is impressive.
Number of total players: 13
Number from each school: 3 (New Mexico), 2 (Air Force), 2 (Colorado State), 2 (Nevada), 2 (SDSU), 1 (Boise State), 1 (Fresno State)
Number of 3 stars: 10 (3 New Mexico, 2 Nevada, 2 SDSU, 1 Boise State, 1 Colorado State, 1 Fresno State)
Consensus: The Mountain West recruited Arizona pretty intensively, which makes sense as no in-state school locks down the state. Seven teams got in the mix, which shows how many schools value the talent in the state. No one team truly stood out. The Lobos secured the most commits, but the Aztecs and a few other teams were right behind them. More importantly, the Aztecs secured the top commit out of the group of 13, so they lead the recruiting charge in Arizona.
Number of total players: 13
Number from each school: 7 (Utah State), 3 (Air Force), 1 (Nevada), 1 (Wyoming)
Number of 3 stars: 7 (5 Utah State, 1 Nevada, 1 Wyoming)
Consensus: This one should be pretty obvious. While several teams are looking to Utah for talent, it is primarily teams in the surrounding states. However, it was the Aggies who were in firm control of the state in this class. They were aided by factoring in several returning LDS missionaries who count towards this class. Regardless, they cleaned up in Utah this year.
Number of total players: 12
Number from each school: 6 (Colorado State), 3 (Boise State), 1 (Fresno State), 1 (Nevada), 1 (Wyoming)
Number of 3 stars: 12 (6 Colorado State, 3 Boise State, 1 Fresno State, 1 Nevada, 1 Wyoming)
Consensus: Fresno State, Nevada, and Wyoming all dipped into Colorado for recruits, but this state is a two-team race. Boise State has not recruited Colorado much over the years but reversed that trend this year by signing three players from the state. Meanwhile, in-state CSU collected seven players for this class, putting an emphasis on recruited locally. The Rams may have had the quantity, but the Broncos had the quality, securing the top recruit out of the 12, two of the top three, and three of the top five. Boise State led the way in recruiting Colorado.
Number of total players: 11
Number from each school: 5 (Air Force), 4 (Nevada), 1 (Fresno State), 1 (SDSU)
Number of 3 stars: 6 (4 Nevada, 1 Fresno State, 1 SDSU)
Consensus: Washington is not a main recruiting state for any program, but many teams supplement their classes with a few players from the state. Four different teams got in the mix with this class. The Wolf Pack were second in total commits in the state, led the way in the highest amount of three stars, and they had the single highest commit in the state out of this group. While it may not be complete dominance, it’s pretty close. Nevada steals the show in Washington.
Number of total players: 9
Number from each school: 2 (Colorado State), 2 (Fresno State), 2 (Nevada), 2 (SDSU), 1 (SJSU)
Number of 3 stars: 7 (2 Colorado State, 2 Fresno State, 1 Nevada, 2 SDSU, 1 SJSU)
Consensus: Nevada has become a popular recruiting state of the California schools, and it is centrally located for a program like Colorado State as well. UNLV is notably absent from this list, missing out on local talent despite its great recruiting efforts in the 2021 class. Out of the five Mountain West schools that picked up a commit from Nevada this year, four of them found multiple players. While none of these schools seemed to acquire the top talent from the state or the top talent in their classes, San Diego State’s two players stand out among the nine players who signed with MWC schools.
Number of total players: 6
Number from each school: 4 (New Mexico), 1 (Colorado State), 1 (Fresno State)
Number of 3 stars: 6 (4 New Mexico, 1 Colorado State, 1 Fresno State)
Consensus: While not generally known as a primary recruiting state, even among Mountain West teams, New Mexico saw three teams mine talent from the state, including the Lobos. In what ends up being a theme for the rest of the states covered here, the hometown team was able to win the state, with New Mexico following through on their strategy to recruit locally.
Number of total players: 5
Number from each school: 3 (Air Force), 2 (Colorado State)
Number of 3 stars: 4 (2 Air Force, 2 Colorado State)
Consensus: Despite being on the other side of the country, many MWC teams attempt to recruit in Florida due to its talent-rich status. This year was no exception as two different teams signed players from the sunshine state. The Falcons recruit nationally compared to any other team in the conference. The Rams also make sense, as Coach Addazio recruited the state previously when he was at Boston College. Colorado State found one of their highest-rated players in this class from Florida and seemed to recruit the state best this cycle.
Number of total players: 4
Number from each school: 4 (Hawaii)
Number of 3 stars: 3 (Hawaii)
Consensus: This was a bit of an odd recruiting cycle for the islands. Typically, quite a few Mountain West teams venture to Hawaii to recruit the state’s wealth of talent. This year, only the local school did so, likely for the same reasons as teams didn’t recruit California as much. Due to that decision, the Rainbow Warriors stood to gain an advantage. They took in four players, three rated a three-star, and thus owned the state in the 2021 cycle.
Number of total players: 3
Number from each school: 2 (Wyoming), 1 (SJSU)
Number of 3 stars: 2 (Wyoming)
Consensus: Wyoming has long had success in recruiting Illinois, which produces a high number of players who can compete at the Group of 5 level. Surprisingly, San Jose State dipped into the state and gave the Cowboys some in-conference competition for the first time in recent memory. Regardless, Wyoming continues to reign supreme in the conference as far as recruiting this state is concerned.
Number of total players: 3
Number from each school: 3 (Wyoming)
Number of 3 stars: 2 (Wyoming)
Consensus: The Cowboys recruit in places many other Mountain West teams do not. Due to this, they were able to collect a trio of recruits from Nebraska in this cycle. Rather than battling against a ton of other teams in a more contested state, Wyoming pretty much had their pick of the under-recruited players and thus won the state in regards to the rest of the conference.
Number of total players: 2
Number from each school: 2 (Hawaii),
Number of 3 stars: 2 (Hawaii)
Consensus: Under Coach Graham, Hawaii has broken into some new states when it comes to recruiting, and Louisiana was one of them. Dipping into SEC territory is no easy task, even if the Rainbow Warriors weren’t stealing the top talent in the state, considering the AAC teams are recruiting there as well. It will be interesting to see if Hawaii will continue to look at players from Louisiana, but they “win” the state for this year.
Number of total players: 1
Number from each school: 1 (Boise State)
Number of 3 stars: 1 (Boise State)
Consensus: Idaho is the Bronco’s state in recruiting when they want it to be. While it isn’t a recruiting hotbed, the state usually produces a few D1 recruits each year. Other MWC teams rarely look to Idaho, and the ones that do don’t pose a threat to Boise State’s efforts. This year, with only one recruit going to a MWC school, Boise State obviously took Idaho.
Number of total players: 1
Number from each school: 1 (Wyoming)
Number of 3 stars: 1 (Wyoming)
Consensus: Wyoming isn’t a huge battleground state as far as the rest of the Mountain West teams are concerned. The Cowboys recruit the top players, and maybe CSU reaches across the border every now and then. Otherwise, Wyoming basically has the state to itself when it comes to recruiting. Obviously, this year Wyoming won Wyoming.
This was an interesting exercise to see which teams are focusing their recruiting efforts in which states. And also, which teams are having more recruiting success than others in specific states. It’s worth looking at this date both in a specific year and from year to year to see if certain trends emerge.