Now that all the signings are official and the classes are finalized, it’s time for a countless amount of hype and articles about your favorite team’s recruiting classes. It’s a fun time of year because teams have secured so much talent, and coaches, players, and fans dream of each one of them reaching their potential.
Our aim here at MWCConnection is to discuss how much talent and potential are entering the conference in this recruiting class. This will be accomplished through numerous different posts this month. Some of these posts will be team specific, and others will be looking more from the standpoint of the conference as a whole. Today is a snapshot of the top talent entering the Mountain West in this class. Here is our version of the top 10 players.
How did we come up with this list, you ask? Good question!
Jeremy, Zach, and myself (Mike) put our heads together and spent a few hours spread out over a week or two to arrive at the ten recruits we listed below. It’s important to remember there is no perfect formula for recruiting, but we considered a few different things. Of course, we leaned on 247 recruiting and the rankings they provided. This helped to narrow our focus substantially. Then, we watched highlight films, considered offer lists, and discussed our cases for players. Other factors, such as position or level of competition also used to an extent, mainly coming into play in “tie-breaker” scenarios. What you see below is the result of that process.
It is crucial to keep in mind this isn’t a prediction on who will make the most significant impact or be the best players in four years. Instead, it is a statement of who are the best recruits entering the Mountain West as freshmen. Recruiting rankings should never be mistaken as an exact science, as each year, some highly-rated players don’t live up to their rating, and players entirely off the radar end up making a bit impact. However, the rankings end up getting it right more often than not.
1) LB Dishawn Misa (Boise State)
Dishawn is an elite recruit coming to play for the Broncos. On film, his speed and physical tackles appear on another level. Misa shows great form, hits hard, and wraps up well when he makes a tackle on a ball-carrier. He can also drop back into coverage and guard receivers and understands his assignments well. Dishawn already looks like a college player and should have no issue making the jump to the next level.
2) WR Mekhi Fox (Colorado State)
Mekhi is one of the best players in the recruiting cycle for this entire conference. He glides down the field effortlessly with his long strides and is capable of changing direction quickly as well. Fox is a big deep-play threat with his size and speed but is also effective in the short game or passes to the flat, making him an all-around receiver. He has great vision of the field which complements his physical abilities and allows him to turn short passes into big plays. Mekhi will play right away and has the potential to be an impact receiver from day one.
3) EDGE Jayden Virgin (Boise State)
Jayden is a great two-way athlete who will be taking his talents to the defensive side of the ball. Long and athletic, he sheds blocks with ease and chases down quarterbacks with little issue. Virgin excels at blitzing, gets in the backfield immediately after the snap, and doesn’t let players get away after making initial contact. He displays an impressive combination of strength and speed and is athletic enough to be a focal point in the offense at tight-end. Jayden has all the skills necessary to be a force in college and will see the field early in his career.
4) RB Lucky Sutton (San Diego State)
Lucky is a big powerful running back in this class for SDSU. He hits holes quickly and decisively and keeps his legs moving after getting hit. Sutton reads his blockers well and makes smooth cuts to juke defenders in the open field. He is a pretty good receiver and his strength allows him to bounce off tackles more often than not. Lucky appears to have all the traits needed to be the next great Aztec running back.
5) OL Deshawn Woods (Wyoming)
Deshawn was a huge signing day surprise for the Cowboys and easily one of the most talented players to enter the conference. His quickness allows him to get in position to block instantly and he has easy power when it comes to pushing defenders back. Woods is capable of playing all over the line thanks to his versatility and is menacing in run-blocking while also being technically sound in pass protection. He is a long, athletic lineman with a nice burst after the snap and room to add to his frame and increase his strength even more. It is rare with offensive linemen, but Deshawn may be able to start immediately next season, likely at a guard position.
6) WR Jalen Moss (Fresno State)
Jalen is a talented player coming into the fold in this class. He can run any route and is just as dangerous along the sidelines as he is over the middle of the field. Moss does a great job getting separation from defensive backs right at the line of scrimmage with his releases. He extends plays well after the catch as he is hard to bring down on the first tackle. Jalen looks the part at receiver and could make an impact right away.
7) RB Ashton Jeanty (Boise State)
Ashton is an impressive running back recruit out of Texas. He is a very balance back, showcasing bursts of speed and sneaky power. Jeanty displays smooth cuts and keeps his legs moving constantly to gain extra yards. He is also a capable receiver and made a huge impact in the passing game. Ashton is a natural fit for the Bronco offense and is a good bet to play early in his career.
8) RB Hassan Mahasin (San Diego State)
Hassan is a versatile offensive player with impressive speed. He is a smooth runner who can change direction on the fly, leaving defenders in the dust. Mahasin possesses good hands as a receiver and is dangerous with the ball in space due to his speed and ability to make people miss. He has good vision to find open holes in the zone or gaps to run through and is difficult to bring down with just one player. Hassan can play running back or wide receiver and while he will primarily be a running back, he can be a major weapon in the offense.
9) TE Austin Terry (Boise State)
Austin is one of the top tight ends on the West Coast. He played primarily in a running offense, so his blocking skills are advanced. However, Terry is a huge target with a big catch radius in the passing game. His strength is noticeable in both facets of the offense and he is difficult to bring down with just one tackler. Austin is talented enough to play right away at the next level if he can crack the depth chart.
10) WR Jacoby Kelly (San Diego State)
Jacoby is a tall wide receiver who passed up a slew of offers to join San Diego State. He does a great job creating separation from defenders with technical route-running and uses his size well to win 50/50 balls. Kelly has excellent hands and is difficult for defensive backs to bring down because of his size and strength. While he isn’t a burner, he has long strides which allow him to pile up yards after the catch or extend plays in the open field. Jacoby could find immediate playing time with the Aztecs at a position of need.
Recruits also considered: DB Josh Hunter (San Diego State) DL Miles Bailey (Fresno State), DB Max Garrison (San Diego State), DB Jomarion Briggs (Fresno State), QB Jackson Stratton (Colorado State), OL Weylin Lapuaho (Utah State), WR Zamondre Merriweather (Boise State)
As many of you may know by now, I like to also break lists like these down into tiers. Tiers can be helpful to provide a different angle to look at things. If one made an argument for flipping some of the spots on this list but kept them within the same tier, I wouldn’t put up much of a debate.
Tier 1: Misa, Fox
Tier 2: Virgin, Sutton
Tier 3: Woods, Moss, Jeanty
Tier 4: Mahasin, Terry
Tier 5: Kelly, Hunter, Bailey
Tier 6: Garrison, Briggs, Stratton
Tier 7: Lapuaho, Merriweather
- This list includes recruits from five different schools, with Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, and San Diego State securing nearly all the top talent in the conference this year. The Broncos topped the list with four recruits and the Aztecs were right behind them with three. The Rams, Bulldogs, and Cowboys rounded things out to complete the top ten. However, the Aggies, Rebels, and Wolf Pack all had players in our “also considered” list, along with additional players from the Bulldogs, Aztecs, and Broncos.
- Woods and Mahasin were the most debated players on this list. Woods had an extremely high rating, but his offer list wasn’t quite on par with the rating. Also, o-line players are more difficult to evaluate and his position did come into play with his ranking (similar to Josh Simmons last year). For Mahasin, his injury was cause for debate as it limited his film and also raised questions about his impact ceiling in college.
- This list is a bit unbalanced this year, with eight offensive recruits and only two defense recruits. Position wise, the list contains three running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, an offensive lineman, an edge player, and a linebacker. Surprisingly no quarterback made the list this cycle.
- As shown in the tier rankings, there was a clear top two. Then, there is a clear divide between the top seven recruits and everyone else. The higher half of the rankings came together pretty easily.
- This year was full of difficult decisions on the lower half of the list. As shown above, seven additional players were considered in at least initial discussions. As many as four or five “also considered” players would have made the top ten list in most other seasons.
Your turn: Do you agree or disagree with the players on this list? Who else belongs on this list? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Coming Tomorrow: The 2022 MWC All-Recruit Teams. We will roll out our first team, second team, and the JUCO/Grad Transfer team.
Follow @Mike_SBN for all MWC recruiting news and updates. Jeremy Rodrigues and Zach Ballard also contributed extensively to this article.