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Revisiting the Boise State 2018 Class Part 8: Defensive Backs and Final Thoughts

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 06 Marshall at Boise State Photo by Tyler Ingham/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 2022 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 2018 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 2018 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 2018 recruiting class was a noticeable step up in their recruiting efforts. It saw the return of a few four-star recruits, as well as other promising three star players with some big offers to their name. To hear our thoughts on specific players from the class, read below.

Part 8: Defensive Backs and Final Thoughts

Welcome to the conclusion of our series revisiting the 2018 Recruiting class for Boise State. It’s been a fun ride, as always, remembering the thoughts of the class four years ago and looking back at names that had been forgotten the past few years. There are two last payers to highlight today, and both oozed potential but only one is still with the program. Plus, we will look at the overall impressions and final thoughts of the 2018 class.

Chris Mitchell

Drew

Expectations when he signed: Really high. This kid played for a good program in a good conference in Cali and was routinely locking down blue chip future Pac-12 receivers.

2018 Season: Played in two games.

2019 Season: Three games…I see where this is heading!

2020 Season: Injuries (or Covid, who knows) kept him from any PT in ‘20

2021 Season: Left the team before the season started.

Overall Impact: Whomp whomp. Man, did we end up having a lot of misses in this class or what. Mitchell never really elevated himself on the depth chart before his injury and I kept thinking he would…then like that, he was gone. He was a scholar-athlete during his time at Boise State and that counts for something, but on the field he kinda way didn’t meet expectations.

Zach

Expectations when he signed: As high as I’ve ever had for a defensive back. I thought Mitchell would play in the NFL.

2018 Season: Appeared in two games but did not record a stat.

2019 Season: Appeared in three games. Rumors swirled that he was battling injuries.

2020 Season: Missed action with injuries.

2021 Season: Left the program.

Overall Impact: This was a massive bummer. Mitchell was a huge recruiting win for the Broncos, but injuries cut his career short. He failed to meet expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed: Mitchell had great size for a cornerback, was a step below a four-star recruit according to the rankings, and by all accounts looked like a star in the making. I figured he was even a good bet to play as a true freshman.

2018 Season: Saw the field in two games but no stats.

2019 Season: Same as before only three games instead of two.

2020 Season: Mitchell missed all season due to injuries.

2021 Season: The injuries proved to be too severe. He medically retired prior to the season.

Overall Impact: Unfortunately, it’s not too hard to believe that Mitchell was rarely if ever healthy during his Bronco career, which caused it to be lackluster. Also, unfortunately, he fails to meet the lofty expectations many had for him.

Tyric LeBeauf

Drew

Expectations when he signed: Didn’t know much about him before he signed on, but I liked his length and he seemed like a kid that might develop into a solid contributor.

2018 Season: RS season

2019 Season: Played in 12 games…recorded 9 tackles and a PBU.

2020 Season: Short season, but LeBeauf made the most of it with his first career INT

2021 Season: Arguably the defensive MVP of Boise State’s opener against UCF. Was looking to have a big season before injury sidelined him.

Overall Impact: A bit snakebitten last year, but 3 INTs in just 8 games is not a bad statline. Plus, he broke up another 4 passes and was solid in coverage. He hasn’t had what I’d consider a “full season” of work, but when he’s been healthy I think he’s been solid. He’s exceeded expectations, IMO.

Zach

Expectations when he signed: I was excited about Tyric but thought he would play second fiddle to Mitchell. I thought he would be a productive backup.

2018 Season: Redshirted

2019 Season: He played in 12 games, primarily on special teams.

2020 Season: He started to see an increased role and had his first interception.

2021 Season:Jumped out to a quick start with two huge interceptions against UCF. A mid season injury set him back and he was relegated to a reserve role late in the season.

Overall Impact: LeBeauf has been a solid player who could still make a big impact on this program. For now he has met expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed: Similarly to Mitchell, I thought LeBeauf had nice length and some talent to go with it. While I thought he would eventually step into a starting role, I figured it would take a bit.

2018 Season: A season of wearing a shirt that is red.

2019 Season: LeBeauf played in 12 games, a big jump from the year prior. His action was mostly on special teams or in garbage time.

2020 Season: He had a role and made the most of it with an interception, a sign of things to come.

2021 Season: LeBeauf springboarded his 2020 season into a starting role. He was a bright spot early on, with two interceptions in the opening game, including one for a huge pick-six. He was injured mid-year and then ineffective and was regulated to a bench role, but it was still a solid season overall.

Overall Impact: Thus far in his career, LeBeauf has made the slow and steady climb towards playing time. He is likely to spend his last year looking similar to his 2021 form and hopefully can stay injury-free. Considering his career so far, I think it’s a fair assessment that he has met expectations.

Final Thoughts

Drew: Yikes. Sometimes it’s the class…sometimes it’s the coaching, but 2018 clearly had more misses than hits and that’s a shame. Of course, some of these kids are still competing and can re-write their stories with a solid senior year. Then again some will just get to cherish the friendships they’ve made.

Zach: if there is one thing I have learned since doing this series it is that recruits don’t pan out the majority of the time. If you can bat .500 it is a massive win. For now this class as whole did not come close to meeting the lofty expectations that they had. Some of these players still have the ability to change that with a strong finish to their careers.

Mike: I’ll echo Zach’s comments. I’ve learned about half the class or more will not pan out due to injuries, transferring, or otherwise ineffectiveness. And that is just the norm. If a star or two, a pleasant surprise, and a few core players emerge each year, then things are right on track. That was the case this year. Players like Shakir and Cobbs balance out more disappointing players. Likewise, finding a surprise impact player like Matlock or someone like Hightower being a bit better than expected can go a long way. Overall, I’d say this class had enough star-power and other contributors to be considered a success, even if it didn’t all come from the players it was expected to come from. The main critique is that things were a bit more isolated to specific positions, which contributed to some successes (wide receiver) and some struggles (linebacker). Plus, there are enough players with a season left to continue to add to their legacy.

Running Totals:

Drew: 5 exceeded expectations, 3 met expectations, 15 failed to meet expectations

Zach: 5 exceeded expectations, 4 met expectations, 14 failed to meet expectations.

Mike: 5 exceeded expectations, 3 met expectations, 15 failed to meet expectations.