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Peak Perspective: Realistic Four Year Recruiting Expectations (Year 1 Check-in)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 03 Navy at Air Force Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via 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.

For the purposes of this article, 247 composite recruiting rankings are used (not transfer or overall rankings). Also, the number of 3 and 4 star recruits refers to high school recruits only. While some programs may strategically use the transfer portal at a higher rate than others, this post will focus on traditional recruiting.

Note: All stats and numbers are current as of 2-2-22 at 9am (CST) and do not account for any signing day surprises after that time. Due to this, the numbers will not be completely accurate and will be adjusted at the end of February to be as accurate as possible for future years.

Air Force

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 110 (114)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 98 (114)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0 (0)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 45 (7) (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.
  • Year 1 Summary: The Falcons are more or less in line with their usual recruiting expectations. They loaded up in the trenches and with defensive backs. On one hand, they are about a step behind last year’s class and a step ahead of two years ago, so they are in good shape. On the other hand, recruiting rankings matter less for Air Force than they do for nearly any other team in the country.

Boise State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 60 (60)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 50 (60)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 6 (3)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 75 (17)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: Boise State seemed to check off all of their boxes in this recruiting class. They filled primary needs, secured signings of a few four-stars and even more high-three stars, and also found some under-the-radar players who may or may not pan out after some development. According to the rankings, it is one of their best-recruiting classes ever. The new coaching staff showed no signs of dropping off from the previous one in terms of recruiting top-end talent. The only difference is the floor of the class is lower than the classes from the past year or two.

Colorado State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 90 (84)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 75 (84)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 1 (1)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 55 (11)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: After some lean years in recruiting under Coach Addazio, the Rams may be in for a rebound with Coach Norvell. At least they are in this class. Some of the best talent in the Mountain West can be found in Colorado State’s 2022 recruiting class. Norvell had to put this class together on the fly and brought some former Nevada commits with him. However, he also flipped some recruits from Power 5 schools, which is impressive. This class is at the top of the conference. Now the question is, is it an anomaly or the start of a pattern?

Fresno State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 88 (72)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 75 (72)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 1 (0)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 58 (16)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: Fresno State did not maintain their lofty 2021 heights, but still turned in a solid class this year. This is impressive considering they had to weather a coaching change shortly before signing day. The top of this Bulldog class could rival almost any other class in the Mountain West Conference. There is a bit of a drop-off in the lower two-thirds but Fresno State also has a good track record of player development that it can fall-back on to balance things out.


  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 123 (126)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 112 (126)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0 (0)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 38 (5)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: Hawaii had a lot going against them this year in recruiting and that was even before the coaching change less than three weeks before signing day. Due to the last-minute nature of Coach Chang’s recruiting efforts, and the need to rebuild, this class has very few high school players entering in this cycle. It has put them behind their four-year expectations but there is still time to balance things out in the years to come.


  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 100 (115)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 80 (115)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0 (0)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 50 (7)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: The Wolf Pack were another program that was forced to basically start from scratch with their class after the coaching change. They had a bit more of a head start than others, signing a few players in December. The bulk of their class was built following the first signing period and due to this, it features fewer high school players than it likely would otherwise. This, and an entirely new coaching staff means their recruiting output will not be as predictable as it was when these expectations were made last year.

New Mexico

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 97 (89)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 93 (89)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0 (0)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 45 (11)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: New Mexico is sticking to the recruiting strategy they have employed under Coach Gonzales. Prioritizing local players as well as those in Arizona, Texas, and California. Recruiting the players overlooked by other programs but love the game of football and buy into being part of building the program from the ground up. They have no problem finding those kinds of players, It is still an uphill climb in recruiting but one the Lobos are making slow and steady progress in.

San Diego State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 80 (69)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 65 (69)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 2 (2)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 60 (14)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: San Diego State continues to reach new heights in recruiting under Coach Hoke. They have firmly entrenched themselves as one of the top recruiting teams in the Mountain West. This is especially true when it comes to positions they are well known for; running back, offensive line, and defensive back. The Aztecs recruiting efforts are turning into a consistent pattern. Furthermore, they reached their number of four-star expectations in just this first class.

San Jose State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 105 (81)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 90 (81)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0 (0)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 47 (14)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: After having modest success on the recruiting trail thus far under Coach Brennan, the Spartans appeared to hit another tier in the rankings this year. While they may not have landed a true headliner, the top third of their class or so is solid. It’s some positive momentum for a program located in the bay area and only a season removed from a conference championship.


  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 75 (97)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 65 (97)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 4 (0)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 63 (9)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: UNLV took a step (or two) back in recruiting this year. After being in the top tier of the team recruiting rankings in the previous two years under Coach Arroryo, they will likely end up in the bottom half of the conference in this year’s rankings. The Rebels were still able to secure some of the top-end talent coming into the league but not at the same rate as before. It will be worth watching to see if this was a one-year blip or a sign the novelty has worn off the new staff if they can’t produce more wins.

Utah State

  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 120 (76)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 110 (76)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0 (0)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 40 (15)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: Similar to New Mexico, Utah State relies heavily on in-state recruiting when it comes to its efforts to find high school talent. They succeed in securing a good amount of talent in their 2022 cycle, adding a number of solid players to their ranks as the Aggies keep trying to inject new players into the program to create some sustained success. They were able to accomplish that this year.


  • Average Recruiting Ranking: 115 (96)
  • 4 Year High Recruiting Ranking: 95 (96)
  • Total Number of 4 stars: 0 (1)
  • Total Number of 3 stars: 48 (8)
  • 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.
  • Year 1 Summary: Wyoming has shown a tendency to recruit their type of players above all else but they had to divert from that a bit this year. They still found players who fit their system and will likely benefit from developing for a few years, but they also found players who can contribute immediately. There are a handful of players who have a chance to play right away and it will be worth seeing if they do. On signing day, they landed a huge surprise in the form of a four-star offensive lineman.

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.