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Revisiting the Boise State 2018 Recruiting Class: Part 1, Quarterbacks

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a fun off-season series that Drew (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 1: Quarterbacks

In this class, like others before it, Boise State had a quarterback committed only to lose him at the last minute. In this case, it was Zach Wilson, who decommitted shortly before signing day, leaving the Broncos scrambling at the last minute. However, things worked out pretty well, as they added two talented players at the position, one who later switched positions and another who came from the junior college ranks.

Drew

Riley Smith

Expectations when he signed:

Let’s be honest…not exactly “high”. Boise State had been down this path before where they lose a prized QB recruit (this year it was Zach Wilson to BYU…and he was a first round draft pick) and get a last minute “plan B” that often doesn’t work out so well. Transfer city.

2018 Season: DNP (did not play…or ‘participate’ if that strikes your fancy)

2019 Season: Switched to tight end—played in 10 games

2020 Season: Still a tight end, how about that?

2021 Season: Played in 11 games at his adopted position

Overall Impact:

Great! You don’t have to make an impact at the position you were recruited to…hell, Dan Paul was recruited as a linebacker and Kellen Moore was recruited as a defensive end (might have to check on that second one). With a big senior season, he may be able to follow John Bates to the league. Still, he was recruited as a QB, so from that aspect, I have no choice but to say he did not meet expectations (at QB…don’t shoot the messenger). Or maybe he DID meet expectations because they weren’t high to begin with? We’re in column one and I’ve already confused myself.

Jaylon Henderson

Expectations when he signed: A “warm body” pick up as the Broncos needed some reliable backups. He didn’t really take off at UTSA, so fair to say my expectations were mostly, “who?”

2018 Season: Played a handful of snaps in Brett Rypien’s final season…all run attempts, IIRC.

2019 Season: It looked like Henderson would just be a spectator during his time at Boise State after the Hank Bachmeier era started with a bang at Florida State, but after a Bachmeier injury, Henderson came in and cemented himself as a dependable QB with MOXIE™. Henderson had 14 total TDs in 9 game appearances and was the MVP of the MWC title game against Hawaii. He even said the phrase “balls to the wall” in the postgame interview. Legend.

Overall Impact: Surprisingly good. The Boise State QB position has been a bit meh-ish the last two seasons. Not bad, but not a ton to write home about either. I sometimes catch myself daydreaming about another Henderson year of eligibility. I like MOXIE™, you guys. Because of his “didn’t miss a beat” play during his senior season, I’m giving Henderson the coveted exceeded expectations tag.

Zach

Riley Smith

Expectations when he signed:

Expectations were low. Anytime you are hunting for a quarterback at the last minute, that isn’t a good sign. Smith’s height and speed were intriguing.

2018 Season Redshirted

2019 Season: Switched to tight end early in the season and saw some action on special teams.

2020 Season: Appeared in every game and became a reliable target for Bachmeier.

2021 Season: Was a reliable target for Bachmeier and earned the starting spot at tight end.

Overall Impact:

Smith has become an important part of the offense, although it hasn’t been in the role that we expected. He should have a big senior season at tight end. For that reason, he has exceeded expectations.

Jaylon Henderson

Expectations when he signed:

No expectations. Henderson seemed like a depth add. A quarterback that would be available in an emergency situation. I never actually thought he would play.

2018 Season: Played in one game, completing one pass.

2019 Season: Became the starting quarterback after injuries to Hank Bachmeier and Chase Cord. Henderson stepped in and led the Broncos to a Mountain West Championship. One of the cooler stories of the season.

2020 Season

2021 Season

Overall Impact: Henderson may not have overwhelming stats, but his impact was felt in a big way. He exceeded expectations in a big way.

Mike

Riley Smith

Expectations when he signed: He seemed like a good get at QB considering it was in January. He came from a good HS program in Florida and was still developing considering he split time in HS with another D1 QB. He only needed to develop into a solid backup.

2018 Season: Redshirt, as expected.

2019 Season: He saw the field in some tight-end packages and slowly it became more and more of a real move. Smith wanted to get on the field and did all he could at a new position and on special teams.

2020 Season: Smith worked hard in the offseason to change his body and learn a new position. He became a legit tight end, appearing in every game and being a frequent presence in the passing game.

2021 Season: His production was basically cut in half, not sure why. There was more depth at the position but he was the start and never really seemed to get going.

Overall Impact:

Riley became a starter for Boise State, just not at the position he was recruited for. Credit to him for not transferring and working hard to find the field in any way possible. For that, he exceeded expectations.

Jaylon Henderson

Expectations when he signed: He seemed like a depth piece for a position that desperately needed it. I figured he would be an average backup and mix it up with some running type of packages, but probably be the 3rd quarterback on the depth chart and some insurance in case someone got hurt or transferred.

2018 Season: It looks like he played in one game, but it wasn’t memorable. Still, he provided the depth he was asked to provide.

2019 Season: He was again the 3rd string quarterback, but injuries occurred to both of the guys in front of him and Henderson was thrust into emergency action towards the end of the season. He was more or less a life-saver, starting four games, looking like a poised veteran, and leading the Broncos to a Mountain West championship. He was named offensive MVP in that game and it served as a great moment for his college career.

2020 Season: N/A

2021 Season: N/A

Overall Impact: Henderson’s expectations were very low when he joined the team but he was needed in some big moments by the end of it. He performed well under the circumstances, and for that, he exceeded the expectations placed on him.

Running Totals:

Drew: 1 exceeded expectations, met expectations, 1 failed to meet expectations

Zach: 2 exceeded expectations, met expectations, failed to meet expectations.

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