Welcome to a fun off-season series that Casey (of OBNUG) and Mike (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 2018 class was officially signed. Quite often around that time it is not uncommon to hear fans say things like “On paper, this is the best recruiting class ever for ____.” And on paper, that may even be true or arguably true. 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 2014 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. Also, this was the first recruiting class in the Bryan Harsin era for the Broncos. Although it was basically only put together over a period of a few weeks, there was quite a bit of hype surrounding the class back in February of 2014.
Anyway, each week, Casey and Mike will look at a different position group from the class. Both of us will contribute each week, but the location of the post will change (one week on one site, the next week on the other) so followers of both sites can follow along. Each post will have both 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, which we 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 2014 class had. It should be a fun and interesting study as the 2014 Boise State class had a little bit of everything over the past 4 years.
Part 6 of this series will focus on the defensive ends/STUDs in this class. Like the DTs, the Broncos recruited 3 in 2014. As has been the case with many positions, each of the 3 went in very different directions over the years. One was a JUCO player, one transfered, and one is gearing up for a very promising senior season.
JUCO Rondell McNair
Expectations When He Signed: With most JUCO guys, I assumed Rondell would function in a back-up capacity. I know this isn’t always the case, D-Law being a great example, but I didn’t necessarily think Rondell would blow anyone way. I thought he would be a solid lineman that would function in a back-up capacity.
2014: As I anticipated, Rondell played in 8 games as a reserve lineman. I don’t know how many tackles he had, but he had 1.5 sacks and 2.5 TFL, which is solid for a back-up.
2015: Rondell tooka bit of a step back in 2015, playing in just two games and registering 2 tackles. Sharing playing time with Kamalei Correa, Sam McCaskill and Gabe Perez will do that.
Overall Impact: Really, Rondell McNair met expectations for me. He served in his role as a reserve lineman and played well when he was in. Nothing more, nothing less.
Expectations When He Signed: When McNair signed, I thought he could make a solid impact in his two years at Boise State. He looked like a guy who could play in rushing sub-packages.
2014: McNair did play right away in a backup role, saw the field on a regular basis, and didn’t look lost out there.
2015: I expected him to use the last season to launch himself into a big senior season. However, that ended up not being the case. The depth chart was loaded and loaded with guys who produced some big numbers.
Overall Impact: McNair was what one was looking for in a JUCO guy. He brought in needed experience, was in the rotation when needed, produced when he saw the field, and didn’t complain about his role. It’s a shame he didn’t have a bigger role at any point in his time with the Broncos, but overall he met expectations in his two seasons.
Expectations When He Signed: I liked what I saw from Hill’s highlights. He passed on offers from Vanderbilt and Colorado, so that was a plus. I felt like he needed to gain a bit of weight, but overall I was pretty stoked to see him play. I did wish his brother would have joined him though haha.
2014: As I anticipated, based on depth, Hill redshirted the 2014 season. With Beau Martin and Sam McCaskill holding it down, I liked the idea of saving a season for him and allowing him to gain some weight.
2015: Kaleb appeared in one game for the Broncos, but it doesn’t clarify if he made a tackle or not. With Kamalei wreaking havoc and such, this wasn’t completely surprising, but I WAS surprised he didn’t play more.
Overall Impact: Kaleb failed to meet expectations for me. Really, it wasn’t that surprising to me that he left, but it did kind of feel like he sort of gave up. Jabril played well, but not SO well that I didn’t think Hill could beat him out for playing time. BUT, the draw to play with his brother at Texas Tech was probably a big draw AND getting to play closer to home I’m sure played its part.
Expectations When He Signed: I’ll be honest here. When Hill and Frazier were both signed as STUDs, I didn’t think Hill would last. I figured he would possibly end up changing positions or he was likely to transfer. Spoiler: that ended up happening. So my bar was set low with him from the get go. That isn’t a knock on his talent, but more coming in to a situation where the odds were already stacked against him.
2014: He redshirted, as a figured he would.
2015: He came off of his redshirt, but didn’t really crack the rotation or see the field much. Again, with the depth and talent in front of him, this wasn’t a surprise. He ended up transferring from the team.
Overall Impact: I understand Casey’s point about failing to meet expectations, or at least give it another year to see if he could carve a niche for himself. However, I kind of figured this is how things would play out from the get go, so he actually met expectations for me.
Expectations When He Signed: I was super excited about Jabril, and I think most of Bronco Nation was as well. It isn’t very often that we have a recruit that declares on national TV where he’s going AND picks BSU over a power 5 school. While he TECHNICALLY passed on a grayshirt offer from USC, he also passed on ACTUAL offers from Utah and Arizona. He was raw, but there was a lot of potential there.
2014: Similarly to Kaleb, I expected he would red shirt with McNair in the fold as a JUCO AND the rest of the roster already pretty stacked.
2015: Despite the talent at the position in front of him, Jabril still managed to get 17 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 4 TFL. That’s stellar for a red shirt freshman.
2016: Building on his impressive freshman campaign, Frazier notched 38 tackles, 4 sacks and 5 TFL. I was somewhat surprised, simply because he was sharing time, yet still very productive. It kind of felt like a quiet season for him, but he nearly doubled all of his stats.
2017: While he didn’t have quite as many tackles, he still had 33 with 6 sacks and 6.5 TFL. That earned him a spot on the All-MW Second Team. He was still splitting time as well.
Overall Impact: Honestly, Jabril has exceeded expectations for me. He has a lot of hype coming out of spring camp as a monster of sorts and I look forward to him laying waste to the competition in his final season. 88 Tackles, 12.5 sacks and 15.5 TFL is legit in 3 years.
Expectations When He Signed: Frazier capped off the hype-filled 2014 recruiting class as a 4-star who picked Boise State over many PAC12 offers, included a grayshirt offer from USC. The excitement was high and the expectations that followed match it.
2014: In a bit of a downer, Frazier did not arrive for fall camp. He joined the school at the start of the semester and was not allowed to do any activities with the team. I believe that was due to an academic issues. He could lift and do individual type of workouts. I thought he had a chance to play as a true freshman, so this wasn’t a great start.
2015: After not playing for a year, there was definitely some rust. Frazier made some great plays in limited action, but I also seem to remember some dumb and costly penalties. An up and down first year.
2016: He split time at the STUD position and also played through a barrage of injuries before being shut down around the end of the season to have surgery (3 surgeries if I remember correctly). Still, it was a productive year.
2017: This was the season he finally began to show the production expected of him. Still splitting time, by design to keep him healthy, Frazier enjoyed his best season as a pass-rusher and demonstrated why he is such a great athlete.
Overall Impact: I actually debated putting any of the three answers here. In some ways, injuries and a slow start have held Frazier back. In other ways, he has done what is to be expected of a four-star recruit. However, as this series has demonstrated, being a highly rated recruit doesn’t always translate to production on the field. Many factors can get in the way. For Jabril to be able to become a great player on the field surely means he has exceeded expectations in some way.
Casey: 4 exceeded expectations, 5 met expectations, 7 failed to meet expectations.
Mike: 3 exceeded expectations, 6 met expectations, 7 failed to meet expectations.