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.
The 2016 class had four offensive linemen entering the fold. One committed early, one was seen as a defensive player by talent evaluators, and two others with diverse backgrounds and body types.
Expectations when he signed - I was super excited to land Kole. A highly rated Idaho kid is always good to have on the team. He didn’t get a ton of love on the recruiting trail, but passed on offers from Nevada and SDSU, so that’s a win.
2016 Season - Redshirt, as expected. It’s not often that a true freshman offensive lineman plays right away.
2017 Season - Didn’t see action.
2018 Season - Didn’t see action.
2019 Season - Played in his first collegiate game versus Portland State.
Overall Impact - Kole hasn’t panned out I think how fans maybe expected him to. He’s been through some trials and the Broncos have done a good job recruiting on the offensive line. Unfortunately, Kole has failed to meet expectations up to this point, but he has one more season to play.
Expectations when he signed - I thought he would be an impact player for the majority of his career.
2016 Season - Redshirted
2017 Season - Did not play
2018 Season - Did not play
2019 Season - Played limited snaps in a reserve role.
Overall Impact - Kole has not seen the field enough to make an impact. For that reason, he has failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - My initial thoughts on Kole were pretty high. He was one of the earlier commits, when they went on a hot streak that June. Boise State had a good run of luck with local recruits, who were usually often more talented than the rankings suggested. I figured he would be a two-three year starter somewhere on the offensive line.
2016 Season - The expected redshirt.
2017 Season - Did not appear in a game according to the team site,
2018 Season - Same as above.
2019 Season - Appeared in a game against Portland State.
Overall Impact: Bailey has one more season to find his way into an on the field role. He’s had to deal with a parent passing away which no doubt made it difficult to concentrate on football. He also had some talent in front of him. All that being said, one game over three seasons and it’s easy to say thus far he has failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - I didn’t know a lot about Harrington, but I was glad he chose to come to BSU. He didn’t get a lot of love out of high school either, but had solid tape.
2016 Season - Redshirt, as expected.
2017 Season - Appeared in 7 games in a reserve role.
2018 Season - Appeared in 6 games, starting in 4 of them.
2019 Season - Missed entire season due to pre-season injury.
Overall Impact - While Harrington hasn’t made a huge impact, injury played a big role on that. He was poised to get some more playing time after making progress the previous two seasons. Injuries are the worst. I would say Harrington has met expectations up to this point and has one season left to show what he’s got.
Expectations when he signed - Harrington had great hands in high school and had the size to be a great interior lineman.
2016 Season - Redshirted
2017 Season - Appeared in seven games, in a limited reserve role.
2018 Season - Appeared in six games, starting four. Looked poised to start as junior.
2019 Season - Suffered a preseason injury.
Overall Impact - It really remains to be seen. Harrington will have at least one (maybe two) years left as a Bronco. He is expected to be a starter and a key contributor at guard. For now, I will go with met expectations.
Expectations when he signed - In an interesting move that can only happy in recruiting, Harrington committed to Army on January 25th before flipping to Boise State one day later. He stuck with that one. Donte seemed like a pretty good considering he was one of the highest rated centers in the west and I thought he would develop into a solid center.
2016 Season - You guessed it, he redshirted.
2017 Season - He appeared in a handful of games as a backup or in blowouts.
2018 Season - After getting in little or no game action the first half the season, Donte was thrown into a larger role the second half of the year. He started four of his six games and there was little drop off with him in the game.
2019 Season - After finishing the previous year strong, one may have thought Harrington could compete with a starting role or at the very least be a high quality backup, the “6th man” so to speak. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition as he missed the entire season due to injury.
Overall Impact: Harrington has one more year left and has a good chance to be one of the four new starters on the offensive line, as long as he can bounce back to his 2018 form. Until his injury, he followed a pretty normal career trajectory for an OL player, and for that, he has pretty much met expectations.
Expectations when he signed - I was pretty excited to sign Dixon. He had a huge frame and could add some much needed size to the line.
2016 Season - Red shirt season.
2017 Season - Did not see action.
2018 Season - Appeared in 4 games in a reserve role.
2019 Season - Graduated early and left the team before the season began.
Overall Impact - Welp. While he did appear in 4 games, leaving early is never a good sign. I would say Dixon failed to meet expectations having made little impact on the field.
Expectations when he signed - Austin had great size, but not a lot of recruiting attention.
2016 Season - Redshirted
2017 Season - Did not see action.
2018 Season - Appeared in four games as a reserve.
2019 Season - Quit the football team in the spring.
Overall Impact - Dixon quit playing football after his sophomore season, for that reason he failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - He seemed like a good player to take a flier on. Tall, athletic, and although he needed to add weight and muscle, I figure he was someone who could develop into a formidable tackle.
2016 Season - The predictable redshirt was handed out to him.
2017 Season - He did not see the field.
2018 Season - Dixon appeared in four games in some capacity.
2019 Season - Before the 2019 season began (I believe it was before spring ball), Dixon and fellow OL player Isiah Moore surprised many by announcing their retirement from football.
Overall Impact - Minimal to non-existent. Even though he didn’t have large expectations, he didn’t meet them and didn’t stick around to complete his eligibility. He failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed - Ezra was a highly touted recruit out of Bethel HS in Washington, passing on an offer from Washington State to be a Bronco.
2016 Season - Redshirt season.
2017 Season - Started all 14 games and was named to the All-MW Honorable Mention team. He had a lot of hype coming into the season and delivered, and as a red-shirt freshman, that’s a big deal.
2018 Season - Started all 13 games and was named to the All-MW First Team. Helped anchor a line that produced yet another 1,000 yard rusher in Alexander Mattison – second year in a row for both.
2019 Season - Started all 13 games, again, earning All-MW First Team, again. Surprise! He helped MW Freshman of the Year George Holani keep the 1,000 yard rushing streak alive at 12 straight seasons.
Overall Impact - Massive impact. One of the best offensive lineman to play at Boise State. Ezra was drafted by the Vikings with pick #58 in the second round. Ezra definitely exceeded expectations.
Expectations when he signed - I thought Ezra Cleveland should have been playing defense. Boy was I wrong. Cleveland was a recruiting coup, he was an elite athlete on both offense and defense.
2016 Season - Redshirted
2017 Season - Started all 14 games at left tackle and was All-Mountain West Honorable Mention.
2018 Season - Started all 13 games and was All-Mountain West First Team.
2019 Season - Started all 13 games and was All-Mountain West First Team. Declared early and was a second round draft pick.
Overall Impact - Ezra Cleveland will go down as one of the best offensive lineman in Boise State history. In three seasons, he started 40 games at left tackle. Cleveland easily exceeded expectations.
Expectations when he signed - I thought he had good size and noticed the coaches seemed to like him. I figured it would be two to three years before we saw anything from him considering he was coming over from the defensive side of the ball.
2016 Season - The customary redshirt season.
2017 Season - In spring ball that year I noticed the coaches and players started to hand out lots of praise to Ezra, who was offensive scout player of the year, a rarity for OL players. He met that hype with a breakout season, emerging as the starting left tackle.
2018 Season - He never let go of his hold as the starting left tackle. He took a step forward by being named to the All-Mountain West first team.
2019 Season - Although he missed a few games and was less than his stellar self due to an injury, he finished the year very strong and was again an all-conference first team selection. Cleveland parlayed that into a 2nd round selection in the NFL draft.
Overall Impact - Cleveland entered the class as an average recruit, one who could’ve easily been forgotten. He left as an early-entry top draft pick after being one of the best offensive lineman in the conference during his college career. Ezra easily exceeded expectations.
Casey: 3 exceeded expectations, 3 met expectations, 6 failed to meet expectations.
Zach: 3 exceeded expectations, 3 met expectations, 6 failed to meet expectations
Mike: 3 exceeded expectations, 4 met expectations, 5 failed to meet expectations.