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Revisiting the Boise State 2016 Recruiting Class: Defensive Backs (Part 1)

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Casey, Mike and Zach are back at it again!

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Hawaii at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Another group so large, it was split into two posts. Rather than go cornerback and safety, this week will examine the three long-time commits.

Robert Lewis

Casey

Expectations when he signed - This was a pretty DB-heavy class. I felt like Robert had the ability, but likely wouldn’t be a starter, though a capable backup.

2016 Season - As expected, he took a redshirt as a true freshman.

2017 Season - Did not see action.

2018 Season - Appeared in 10 games and registered 2 tackles.

2019 Season - Lewis left the team in 2019 to play for Sacramento State, where he played in 12 games and had 14 tackles.

Overall impact - Lewis failed to meet expectations after little production on the field.

Zach

Expectations when he signed - Lewis was kind of the forgotten guy in a deep defensive back class. I thought he would be a solid rotational player.

2016 Season - Lewis redshirted.

2017 Season - Did not see action

2018 Season - Played some in a reserve role. Made two tackles.

2019 Season - Lewis was arrested for a DUI and left the team to play at Sacramento State.

Overall impact - Lewis rarely played and left the team under less than ideal circumstances. So I have to go with failed to meet expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed - Lewis was a needed verbal commit at the time, earlier in the cycle, after they had missed out on a few top targets. He came from a talented program but once the rest of the class formed it seemed like he would get lost in the shuffle a bit. I thought he would become a reliable rotational player.

2016 Season - He took the expected redshirt season.

2017 Season - He did not see the field.

2018 Season - Robert finally saw the field, 10 games in fact. He made two tackles and I don’t remember any big plays one way or the other.

2019 Season - Lewis seemed like a good bet to transfer to the FCS level for more playing time before the start of this season and that’s what he did. What was not expected was being kicked off the team for a DUI to jump start that process. He was not a player I expected to appear in the headlines for off the field matters.

Overall impact - Leaving the team early and leaving the team due to legal troubles makes this an easy decision. He failed to meet expectations.

DeAndre Pierce

Casey

Expectations when he signed - I was pretty stoked to sign DeAndre. His father had a 9 year career AND he was coming out of California powerhouse Long Beach Poly.

2016 Season - Appeared in 12 games as a true freshman, starting one. He made 19 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 2 pass break-ups. He wasn’t the biggest guy on the field, but man he was fun to watch.

2017 Season - Named to the All-MW Honorable mention after appearing in 14 games and starting 11. He had 83 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and an interception.

2018 Season - Started 4 games before his season was cut short by injury. HE had 23 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and a sack at the time of the injury. What initially looked like food poisoning ended up being a ruptured spleen.

2019 Season - Pierce was sidelined much of the season with a high ankle fracture after starting 5 games. He finished with 19 total tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Pierce graduated from Boise State and chose to transfer to Arizona State for his final season of eligibility.

Overall impact - Honestly this one pains me. DeAndre may be one of my favorite players to suit up for the Broncos because of his fire for the game. But I feel like he failed to meet expectations. Not for his lack of ability or desire. He was an incredible player when healthy, but half of his career as a Bronco was hampered by injuries which kept him from playing to his potential. I don’t like the idea of DeAndre failing to meet expectations because he was a great player for us, but to think of what he could have been were he not injured. Again, I don’t delight in giving this designation, but that’s just where my gut is.

Zach

Expectations when he signed - Expectations were sky high. Pierce was a great corner in high school and came from an impressive background and a great high school in Long Beach Poly. I thought he would be a star.

2016 season - I was a little surprised to see Pierce playing safety, but his big hitting ability made for a great fit. Pierce quickly earned playing time. Appearing in 12 games and making 19 tackles.

2017 season - Pierce earned a starting role and appeared in all 14 games. He was a key cog on a defense that led the Broncos to the Mountain West Championship.

2018 season - Appeared in the first four games before suffering a season ending injury against Wyoming in the fourth game of the season.

2019 season - Pierce once again dealt with an injury plagued season. He transferred to Arizona State this spring.

Overall impact - Pierce had a quality career, but ultimately injuries held him back. He was an important part of two championship teams and was reliable during his time on the field. I am going to go with met expectations for Pierce.

Mike

Expectations when he signed - He was a prototypical Boise State recruit in quite a few ways at the time. A talented player from a big-time high school program who was undersized. Definitely a big get from the Broncos and I expected him to be an all-conference type of player.

2016 Season - He did not redshirt, instead appearing in 12 games and 1 start, mainly as a cornerback or nickel. He had 19 tackles on the year and flashed a lot of promise.

2017 Season - Pierce had a breakout season, becoming a starter at safety (11 of 14 games). He was fourth on the team in tackles with 83, plus 4 for loss and an interception. He began to display some highlight worthy hits and plays (despite his size) and was an all-conference Honorable Mention.

2018 Season - Played in only four games due to a lacerated spleen. At the time, he was the leading tackler on the team with 23.

2019 Season - Again Pierce had his season cut short by an injury, this time after 5 games. He had 19 tackles at the time. After the season, Deandre announced he was leave to Arizona State as a grad transfer to play with his father.

Overall impact - This was tough. Looking back here, it seemed like Pierce played more than he did. His impact went beyond this to be sure, as he was the leader of the defense and often the smarter player on the field. He can’t help injuries and I hold wanting to play with his dad against him. I definitely understand if people want to say he failed but I’ll go with met expectations.

Reid Harrison-Ducros

Casey

Expectations when he signed - Honestly I was excited for Reid. He seemed like a smart kid and a hard worker, so I expected him to compete, at a minimum.

2016 Season - Played as a true freshman, appearing in 10 games and recording 9 tackles and a pass break-up. Very respectable for a young DB just out of high school.

2017 Season - Made 4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and a pass break-up, but left before the end of the season after being replaced by Avery Williams.

2018 Season - N/A

2019 Season - N/A

Overall impact - It’s one thing to transfer in the off-season, but to transfer in the middle of the season because you aren’t performing? That’s just disappointing. Reid failed to meet expectations because, when the going got tough, he jumped ship. He had a solid career at Duquesne, but it definitely makes you wonder what could have been had he stuck around Boise State with some of the injuries that happened near the end of the season.

Zach

Expectations when he signed - RHD committed on the same day as Pierce and played as a true freshman. Expectations were high and he was expected to be a key player.

2016 season - Harrison-Ducros saw some action as a true freshman, but played the majority of his snaps late in games.

2017 season - Started the first game of the year, but after some struggles he was replaced by Avery Williams and transferred.

2018 season - N/A

2019 season - N/A

Overall impact - Reid Harrison-Ducros left after losing a starting job. Expectations seemed to be that he would land at an FCS program. But RHD did have a solid career at FCS Duquesne. He failed to meet expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed - Reid earned a scholarship after opening some eyes at the Boise State summer camp and he committed shortly after. He was a hard worker and wasn’t afraid to compete with anyone, so it seemed he would fit right in at Boise State and have a nice career. I saw him as someone who could potentially contribute early but most of his production would come over his junior and senior seasons.

2016 Season - He did not redshirt his first season, but probably should have, which was a common theme for this class. Mainly because there wasn’t enough garbage time for him to get experience. He played in 10 games, with 9 tackles and 1 PBU.

2017 Season - With Pierce moving to safety, RHD emerged as the starter opposite Tyler Horton. He started the first four games and played well enough in coverage, considering the pass-happy tendencies of a team like Washington State. He had a bad stroke of luck of having the ball hit him while blocking, resulting in a Cougar recovery. I believe he also had a sure interception that he didn’t catch. Coaches shook things up after two early season losses and he was one of the players swapped out of the starting lineup. He transferred in the middle of the season, opting for more playing time elsewhere. He would’ve gotten that playing time late in the season after DB injuries if he had stayed.

2018 Season - N/A

2019 Season - N/A

Overall impact - While I do wish some players would stick with teams longer and realize not everyone can play right away, I won’t fault a player for wanting to leave to get more playing time. But leaving during the middle of the season isn’t a great move. Especially when injuries likely would’ve had him start later in the year. The move worked for Reid as he started at his new school. But as far as his time with Boise State goes, he failed to meet expectations.

Running Totals:

Casey: 5 exceeded expectations, 6 met expectations, 15 failed to meet expectations.

Zach: 5 exceeded expectations, 7 met expectations, 14 failed to meet expectations

Mike: 5 exceeded expectations, 8 met expectations, 13 failed to meet expectations.