Welcome to a fun off-season series that Casey (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 2020 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 2016 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, Casey, Zach, and Mike will look at a different position group from the class. While we will contribute one posts each week for the next ten weeks, the location of the post will change (one week on one site, the next week on the other) so 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, 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 2016 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.
This was the class that dubbed themselves “Dream Team 16” and was the first Boise State class to begin bonding on social media as well as a private group messaging app (which backfired when two flipped to Missouri as seemingly a package deal). It was the class that endured three coaching departures in the off-season, and nabbed a few late commitments at key positions.
This group was so big, we split it into two. In case it was forgotten, a huge emphasis was placed on the D-line in this class. Part two looks at those who played some or all of their careers on the outside of the line. Two of the four ended up leaving the team before really starting their Bronco careers.
Expectations when he signed - I was pretty stoked to land Weaver. His tape was awesome and he had some big time offers.
2016 Season - Redshirt season. I was a little surprised he did. He was one I had predicted to play right away.
2017 Season - Fourth-Team All-American by Phil Steele, SB Nation All-American Honorable Mention and FWAA and USA TODAY Freshman All-American after 33 tackles, 11 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. It was also his first of 3 years on the MW First Team. Can’t do a whole lot better than that.
2018 Season - 43 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. 2x All-MW First-Team selection, building still on top of a stellar freshman campaign.
2019 Season - 52 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. Earned 9 All-American honors, including First-Team honors from Walter Camp, CBS Sports and The Sporting News. Earned Second-Team AA honors from AFCA, Associated Press, The Athletic, ESPN, FWAA, and USA TODAY and finally, All-MW First-Team as well as MW Defensive Player of the Year. Oh, forgot to mention he also set the mark for sacks in a career for the MW at 34.
Overall Impact - Wow. If ever there was a player to embody exceeding expectations, it’s Curtis Weaver. Even with the hype he had coming in, he blew those out of the water.
Expectations when he signed - I was shocked when the Broncos landed Weaver out of high school. He had offers from Virginia and Wisconsin among others. I expected Weaver to be a solid interior lineman and was surprised to hear he was moving to STUD.
2016 Season - Weaver used his redshirt season to cut weight.
2017 Season - Weaver backed up Jabril Frazier, but proved to be the real star at that position. He surprised us all with a huge freshman season finishing with 11 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Weaver was first team all-conference.
2018 Season - Weaver had another huge season. He finished the year with 9.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He was once again voted first team all-conference.
2019 Season - Weaver entered his redshirt junior season with most fans assuming this would be his curtain call. He went out with a bang, finishing the year with 13.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. Weaver became the Mountain West record holder for sacks and was the defensive player of the year.
Overall Impact - Weaver may not be the best Bronco to ever play the STUD position (that title probably belongs to Demarcus Lawrence). But he had the best career of anyone to play that position at Boise State. He greatly exceeded expectations.
Expectations when he signed - Similar to Watson, I figured Curtis to grow into productive player and be a multi-year starter during his career. He had some big offers and was one of the finishing touches on this class.
2016 Season - He redshirted. Then we heard instead of continuing to put on weight to play in the middle of the line, he dropped quite a bit of weight and moved to a STUD position that was rather crowded at the time.
2017 Season - Weaver burst on the scene his first year on the field. He led the entire conference in sacks with 11 and was fourth in TFL with 13. He was named first team all-MWC and fourth team All-American by Phil Steele, and did all this despite being in a three player timeshare at his position.
2018 Season - No longer an unknown, Curtis’ production didn’t drop off. He had 9.5 sacks and 15 TFLs as he solidified himself as a defensive star. Once again he was named first team All-MWC.
2019 Season - His junior and final season proved to be his best one. Weaver saw jumps all across the board, in tackles (52), TFLs (19.5), and sacks (13.5). He made first or second team all-American on 9 different publications, plus his third straight first team All-MWC. He was also named the Mountain West DPOY and finished as the all time conference leader in sacks and second all time at Boise State. His turned all of this into an NFL draft selection.
Overall Impact - Starting off as a good but not great recruit and becoming one of the best players in school and conference history in just three seasons? Curtis exceeds expectations quite easily.
Expectations when he signed - I was excited to land Hatada. Rocklin has a great program, he had great size, and just seemed to fit the blue collar mold of a Boise State Bronco.
2016 Season - Played in 7 games and had one pass breakup. This surprised me as I anticipated Weaver would be the one to play right away.
2017 Season - Appeared in 13 games, making 12 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Very solid jump in production and quickly becoming a dependable tackle.
2018 Season - Appeared in 11 games, starting 8, and finished with 23 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Again, Chase turned it up a notched after a solid 2017 season.
2019 Season - Started all 13 games, earning Second-Team All-MW after recording 42 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. Quite a way to end your time as a Bronco.
Overall Impact - Chase came in fitting the mold of the ideal Bronco player: a bit overlooked, strong player, stronger work ethic. He improved year over year and showed why the Broncos extended an offer. Chase absolutely met expectations.
Expectations when he signed - Coming from the area where I grew up, I was really excited to see what Chase Hatada would do at Boise State. I knew he would be a very solid player.
2016 Season - Hatada played in seven games as a true freshman, but did not register any tackles. This was another case of a player that probably should have redshirted.
2017 Season - Hatada’s role increased, but he dealt with some nagging injuries over the course of the season. He registered 12 tackles and had his first career sack.
2018 Season - Hatada became a very important role player, but once again missed a handful of games because of injuries. He finished the season with 23 tackles.
2019 Season - Hatada had a breakout season, he proved to be the Robin to Weaver’s Batman. Hatada was voted second team all-conference and finished the year with six sacks. He did miss two games because of injuries.
Overall Impact - Hatada had a solid career, but it is fair to wonder how things would have gone if he stayed healthy and redshirted as a freshman. With that being said, I think Hatada met expectations.
Expectations when he signed - I saw Chase as one of the better players in this class. Coach Caldwell thought so as well, saying something along the lines of being excited for his “three or four” years at Boise State.
2016 Season - Hatada played as a true freshman, appearing in seven games with next to know stats. I believe he may have even suffered an injury that ended his season early.
2017 Season - Chase bounced back and forth from defensive tackle to defensive end. His versatility proved valuable but it may have hindered his growth a bit. He put up modest numbers, ones I had hoped to see the year before (8 games, 12 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1 sack).
2018 Season - Hatada kept improving, but his numbers and production kept one season behind what I had hoped. As a junior and mostly a starter, he had 23 tackles, 3 of which went for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 FF, all in 11 games.
2019 Season - As a senior, Chase became the unquestioned starter at defensive end. He was a terror on the field as a stellar secondary pass-rusher. His final numbers in his 13 games were: 42 tackles, 13 TFL, 6 sacks, and 2 FF. He was named to the second team all-conference.
Overall Impact - I wonder what another season would have looked like for Hatada if he wasn’t so underused in 2016. It is likely he would’ve put up a season equal to or greater than his 2019 one, which possibly would’ve helped his NFL prospects. Injuries and a lost season held him back a bit in his career, but he still produced and it’s hard to argue he did anything but meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from Rufai. He had great size and passed on an offer from Oregon State, so I’d say he was a good get.
2016 Season - Redshirt. Not surprising.
2017 Season - Limited play, mostly on special teams. He did finish with 6 tackles.
2018 Season - Played in 10 games making 12 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and .5 sack. Not too shabby for a reserve lineman.
2019 Season - Rufai transferred to Idaho before the season.
Overall Impact - Rufai seemed to be on the up-and-up, but the constant change of his position coach was too much, so he transferred to Idaho. Rufai failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - I was really excited for Rufai. He had some solid offers out of high school and I thought he would be an impact player for the Broncos.
2016 Season - Redhshirted
2017 Season - Played sparingly, but managed to record his first sacks.
2018 Season - Played in six games and recorded 12 tackles.
2019 Season - Transferred to Idaho. Oh the pain...
Overall Impact - Rufai had a handful of Power Five offers out of high school. He definitely failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - He was one of the bigger “who is that?” players when he announced his commitment shortly before signing day. He was pretty highly rated, had great size, and was under recruited out of Oregon. All of this led me to believe he would be great fit at defensive end during his time at Boise State.
2016 Season - He wore the redshirt.
2017 Season - He played in a handful of games and had a handful of tackles, including a sack.
2018 Season - In an extra game, he doubled his solo and total tackles (4 and 12), plus had half a sack. After the season he transferred to Idaho, which I actually thought he did a year prior.
2019 Season - N/A
Overall Impact - Rufai was around a year longer than I thought, Despite that, he still failed to manage to distinguish himself and thus failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - Shaw had solid tape, and while he needed to put on a little weight, I wasn’t overly concerned about that. He had the makings of a great edge rusher.
2016 Season - Redshirt season. Not all that surprising.
2017 Season - Transferred to Western Illinois.
2018 Season - N/A
2019 Season - N/A
Overall Impact - Shaw made pretty much no impact, unfortunately. He failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - I was lukewarm on Shaw. Thought he could be a solid rotational player, but he didn’t have the hype other players in this class did.
2016 Season - Redshirted
2017 Season - Transferred.
2018 Season - N/A
2019 Season - N/A
Overall Impact - Not much to say here. When you don’t play, you fail to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - Shaw passed on at least power 5 offers (North Carolina is the one I remember) to commit to Boise State. He needed to add weight but I thought he could be a pass-rushing specialist on third downs if nothing else.
2016 Season - He redshirted.
2017 Season - He must have seen the writing on the wall and transferred to Western Illinois before the season started. Looking him up, he did put on the weight, but has only put up 3 tackles in 2 games.
2018 Season - N/A
2019 Season - N/A
Overall Impact - It could not be anything but failed to meet expectations.
Casey: 5 exceeded expectations, 5 met expectations, 10 failed to meet expectations.
Zach: 5 exceeded expectations, 5 met expectations, 10 failed to meet expectations
Mike: 5 exceeded expectations, 6 met expectations, 9 failed to meet expectations.