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Revisiting the Boise State 2018 Class Part 7: Linebackers

NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a fun off-season series that Drew (it’s a-me), 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 7 Linebacker

Boise State made it a priority in this class to restock the talent at the linebacker spot. On paper, this was accomplished as they secured the talents of three linebackers with a diverse set of skills. However, things did not play out much according to plan, for various reasons.

Brandon Hawkins

Drew

Expectations when he signed: Fairly high. We like our Texas recruits and having a Texas LB brings hope that maybe we found another Ben Weaver.

2018 Season: Redshirted.

2019 Season: Played in all 14 games, but primarily on special teams.

2020 Season: Appeared in 5 games for the Broncos (of 7)

2021 Season: A few brief sightings, but nothing too substantial.

Overall Impact: Not as much as we’d/he’d like. Hawkins has just been lost on the depth chart during his time as a Bronco and while he’s been a great student-athlete, with multiple academic honors, his on-field contributions haven’t been super noticeable. He’s got another year to put something together, but I’d say some of the incoming guys are probably a bit more heralded. Unfortunately, I think he’s failed to meet the initial expectations.

Zach

Expectations when he signed: Hawkins looked like a multiple year starter and a guy that would be capable of leading the team in tackles.

2018 Season: Redshirt

2019 Season: Played a role on special team, but his production was limited on defense. Saw some garbage time snaps.

2020 Season: In a surprise, Hawkins did not appear in any games. Was likely injured, but information was pretty limited during the COVID shortened season.

2021 Season: Made some big special teams tackles and we started to see flashes of the big hits we thought we would see throughout his career. But his playing time was limited.

Overall Impact: Hawkins still has two years to make an impact. He will have a chance to earn starting reps this season. But for now, I have to go with failed to meet expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed: Looking at Hawkins on film, he was a tackle machine and I thought he excelled at tackles in open space. I figured he would have a great career and be a heavy contributor for two or three years.

2018 Season: He used his redshirt.

2019 Season: A step forward with six games and eight tackles, I believe mostly on special teams.

2020 Season: Hawkins appeared in no games. Injury I guess?

2021 Season: He played sparingly, again as a backup or special teamer. In eight games, he tallied twelve tackles.

Overall Impact: Hawkins has looked the part when he’s played, but he hasn’t looked the part enough to play a lot. He could see a heavy increase in playing time this season but he has definitely failed to meet expectations.

DJ Schramm

Drew

Expectations when he signed: A solidly built kid with a twin brother that was pretty well regarded as well. His dad Dave is a long-time position coach and coordinator in the Mountain West and beyond, so I figured he had some pretty good football acumen.

2018 Season: Redshirt

2019 Season: Played in 9 games with 5 tackles and a PBU.

2020 Season: Played in 7 games and got a career highlight with a scoop and score TD off a blocked punt.

2021 Season: 3 TFLs and a sack (out of 24 total tackles) in 12 games of action.

Overall Impact: Some classes just don’t come together like you’d think and this particular class seemed pretty loaded at the LB position, but that depth and PT just didn’t materialize like we expected. Schramm is rocking a great beard right now, and I’d say he’s trending up as he heads into his last season, so for that reason I’ll be benevolent and bestow a MET expectations tag.

Zach

Expectations when he signed: My expectations for Schramm were lukewarm. His tape didn’t blow me away like Hawkins. I thought he could be a good rotation guy and big contributor on special teams.

2018 Season: Redshirted

2019 Season: Played sparingly, mostly on special teams.

2020 Season: Saw an increased role on special teams and filled in for a few snaps on defense.

2021 Season: Schramm was one of the best players on Boise State special teams last season, where he made a number of notable plays.

Overall Impact: My expectations for Schramm were not super high, but I saw a considerable amount of growth this past season and I could see him playing an important role on defense this fall. I am going to go with met expectations.

Mike

Expectations when he signed: Schramm seemed like he could develop into a fine linebacker, but he wasn’t necessarily one that sparked tons of excitement.

2018 Season: Redshirt year.

2019 Season: He played a bit, four games and five tackles.

2020 Season: More of the same, five games and seven tackles.

2021 Season: Another small step forward, ten games and 24 tackles.

Overall Impact: Schramm has played well enough in a limited role, but not enough to truly make an impact. So he fails to meet expectations.

Phillip Mills

Drew

Expectations when he signed: Pretty high, IIRC. I thought that Mills might be more impactful at safety, but I liked his versatility at the position and thought he’d definitely be a contributor.

2018 Season: Redshirt

2019 Season: Some very modest playing time.

2020 Season: He gone

2021 Season: So very gone.

Overall Impact: As I was saying about certain classes just not showing up. Mills failed to launch and then launched himself right out of Boise. Failed to meet expectations.

Zach

Expectations when he signed: I really like what I saw from Mills on tape. I thought he would have a really good career for the Broncos.

2018 Season: Redshirted

2019 Season: Saw limited action in two games. Did not record a stat.

2020 Season: Left the team, I believe he had some injury issues.

2021 Season: N/A

Overall Impact: This one was a bummer, he failed to meet expectations..

Mike

Expectations when he signed: Mills was the first commit in this class if I remember correctly. He looked pretty good and I thought he would be pretty serviceable during his career, if not spectacular.

2018 Season: He took a redshirt, which was not surprising.

2019 Season: Mills took a step forward, playing in two games. But he didn’t collect any stats.

2020 Season: Mills left the team in the off-season.

2021 Season: N/A

Overall Impact: Since he barely saw the field, it is clear to say Mills has failed to meet expectations.

Running Totals:

Drew: 4 exceeded expectations, 3 met expectations, 14 failed to meet expectations

Zach: 5 exceeded expectations, 3 met expectations, 13 failed to meet expectations.

Mike: 5 exceeded expectations, 2 met expectations, 14 failed to meet expectations.