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 the 247 recruiting site and the rankings they provided. This helped to narrow our focus substantially. Then, we considered offer lists, watched highlight films, and stated 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.
As mentioned above, we released three teams. A first team, second team, and JUCO/Grad Transfer team. The first two teams are high school players only, where the third one gives college players their time to shine. A few other quick notes: We went with two WRs and a FLEX spot on offense. On defense, we went with a FLEX as well, along with the traditional two defensive linemen, two edge rushers, three linebackers, and four defensive backs.
Lastly, the Junior College/Transfer team has developed over the years from where it first began. When this was started, it was basically full of junior college players and many years we couldn’t even fill out a full team. Now, with the transfer portal, it is difficult to choose between many deserving players. There is some debate over how transfer players should be chosen; high school rankings vs. college production. In the end, we decided to value college production above all else. So if a former four-star is coming to your team from a Power 5 school and isn’t on our list, it’s likely because he did not play or contribute much at his previous college.
QB Jackson Strutton (Colorado State)
RB Lucky Sutton (San Diego State)
WR Mekhi Fox (Colorado State)
WR Jalen Moss (Fresno State)
FLEX Ashton Jeanty (Boise State)
TE Autin Terry (Boise State)
OL Deshawn Woods (Wyoming)
OL Weylin Lapuaho (Utah State)
OL Sione Tavo Motuapuaka (Utah State)
OL Laakea Kapoi (San Diego State)
OL Kage Casey (Boise State)
DL Miles Bailey (Fresno State)
DL Jacob Holmes (Fresno State)
EDGE Jayden Virgin (Boise State)
EDGE Marshon Oxley (Colorado State)
LB Dishawn Misa (Boise State)
LB Tanner Salisbury (UNLV)
LB Justin Eklund (San Jose State)
FLEX Malaki Te’o (Hawaii)
DB Joshua Hunter (San Diego State)
DB Max Garrison (San Diego State)
DB Jomarion Briggs (Fresno State)
DB Eric Butler (San Diego State)
K Luke Freer (Air Force)
P James Ferguson (Boise State)
LS Carson York (Wyoming)
QB Joshua Wood (Fresno State)
RB Jakob Galloway (San Jose State)
WR Jacoby Kelly (San Diego State)
WR Zamandre Merriweather (Boise State)
TE Jordan Williams (Colorado State)
FLEX Hassan Mahasin (San Diego State)
OL Uluakinofo Taliauli (San Jose State)
OL Aubrey Scott (Colorado State)
OL Marcus Simien (Fresno State)
OL Nate Maier (Fresno State)
OL JJ Talo (Boise State)
DL Ryan Henderson (San Diego State)
DL Braxon Fely (Boise State)
EDGE Jack Curtis (Air Force)
EDGE Ike Nnakenyi (Nevada)
LB Damonie Perkins (San Jose State)
LB Christopher Smalley (Nevada)
LB Justin Sterns (San Jose State)
FLEX Anthony Costanzo (UNLV)
DB Dionte Thornton (Boise State)
DB Chris Johnson (San Diego State)
DB Jordan Drew (Utah State)
DB Christian Ellis (New Mexico)
K Luke Drzewiecki (New Mexico)
P Trey Balsbaugh (Colorado State)
LS Ryan Manis (Air Force)
QB Cheavan Cordeiro (San Jose State)
RB Sherrod White (New Mexico)
WR Elijah Cooks (San Jose State)
WR Brian Cobbs (Utah State)
TE Jordan Murrary (Hawaii)
FLEX Melquan Stovall (Colorado State)
OL Cade Bennett (San Diego State)
OL Cade Beresford (Boise State)
OL Bryce Petersen (San Jose State)
OL Jacob Gardner (Colorado State)
OL Anthony LaFrance (Fresno State)
DL Justus Tavai (San Diego State)
DL Darius Johnson (UNLV)
EDGE Deven Wright (Boise State)
EDGE Cortez Hogans (Boise State)
LB MJ Tafisi (Utah State)
LB Cooper McDonald (San Diego State)
LB Fred Thompkins (UNLV)
FLEX Noah Kema (Hawaii)
DB Cam Lockdrige (Fresno State)
DB Dre Greeley (Colorado State)
DB Deron Harrell (Wyoming)
DB Jakorey Hawkins (Wyoming)
K Alberto Arroyo (Fresno State)
P Paddy Turner (Colorado State)
LS Nick D’Ambra (Fresno State)
Team Totals: (HS players listed only, first team in parentheses)
Boise State: 10 (6)
San Diego 9 (5)
Fresno State: 7 (4)
Colorado State: 6 (3)
San Jose State: 5 (1)
Utah State: 3 (2)
Air Force: 3 (1)
Wyoming: 2 (2)
UNLV: 2 (1)
Nevada: 2 (0)
New Mexico: 2 (0)
Hawaii: 1 (1)
Colorado State: 4
Fresno State: 4
Boise State: 3
San Diego State: 3
San Jose State: 3
Utah State: 2
New Mexico: 1
- Running back and wide receiver were the deepest positions in the conference this year, followed by quarterback. As many as five players who would have normally made the team at those spots in other years were left off the team this year. It is only right to acknowledge the talents of: Tyler Voss (San Jose State), Jayden Maiava (UNLV), Sheldon Canley (SDSU), Caleb Merritt (Wyoming), Randy Masters (UNLV), Justus Ross-Simmons (Colorado State), and Logan Tanner (SDSU).
- As shown above, there was a large divide between the high school talent recruited by the top 5 teams (Boise State, San Diego State, Fresno State, Colorado State, and San Jose State) and the other seven teams. Those 5 accounted for 71% of the high school recruit teams and 73% of the first team.
- That is not to say there is no talent in the rest of the conference. 8 of the 12 teams signed a high school player with a composite rating of 85 or higher. However, only 3 teams signed 3 or more players with such a rating.
- Also, Utah State, Wyoming, and Hawaii made the most of their selections. All but one of the recruits from those schools made the first team.
- The deepest positions in this class were quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and linebacker. There were tough calls with at least one deserving player having to be left off the teams.
- On the flip side, defensive back, linebacker, and offensive line were relatively easier decisions or had smaller pools of players to chose from.
- With the JUCO/transfer team, quarterback, linebacker, and defensive back were the most talented positions leading to the most difficult decisions.
- On the other side of things, running back, tight end, offensive line, edge and defensive line were the thinnest spots.
- The Rams and Bulldogs topped our list, mainly due to landing more players with game experience. However, a number of teams (Utah State for example), have former top recruits who have yet to see the field but have the potential to make a big impact going forward.
Yesterday: Our top 10 MWC Recruit List
Coming Monday: In the MWC Recruiting Roundup, we release our final class of 2021 Team Rankings.
Your turn: Who do you agree with? Who got snubbed? Talk about it in the comments section.
Follow @Mike_SBN for all MWC recruiting news and updates. Jeremy Rodrigues and Zach Ballard also contributed extensively to this article.