Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Recruiting in the WAC

Last week a reader of the blog asked me to do an article on why Boise's recruiting has surpassed Fresno State. Although I didn't
completely agree with this view I decided I would do some research and see if this were indeed true. The 2007 Bulldog recruiting class is shaping up to be one of the better recruiting classes of the Pat Hill era although Scout doesn't seem to think so. However one thing every college football fan must remember is that recruits cannot be truly rated until they step onto the college football field. The stars that are given to recruits are based upon potential. Did David Carr look like a two star prospect to anyone in the nation during his senior season? Did Bernard Berrian look like a two star prospect out of little known Atwater during his tenure at Fresno State? Although Jared Zabranski wasn't the most accomplished Boise QB did he look like a walk-on to anyone during the Fiesta Bowl game against Oklahoma? With that being said the 2007 Recruiting rankings per Scout.com go as follows for the WAC (Scout rankings are in parenthesis):

1) Boise State (55)
2) Fresno State (75)
3) Nevada (87)
4) San Jose State (90)
5) Louisiana Tech (102)
6) NMSU (105)
7) Hawaii (107)
8) Idaho (112)
9) Utah State (114)

As you can see Boise State leads the 2007 recruiting race. You have to remember the ride the Broncos just embarked upon. A trip to the Fiesta Bowl while being a part of the national picture for the first time will bring many more recruits to your program. If you do not believe that is the reason that Boise is finding far more recruits now than they ever have before take a look back at the 2002 Scout recruiting class (yes the class following the David Carr ride we took in 2001). In 2002 Fresno State led the WAC in recruiting. In fact over the past five seasons here is where the recruiting rankings ended up with respect to Fresno State and Boise State:

2002: Fresno State (52) Boise State (75)
2003: Fresno State (64) Boise State (73)
2004: Boise State (72) Fresno State (110)
2005: Boise State (73) Fresno State (92)
2006: Boise State (78) Fresno State (96)
Overall Average: Boise State 74 Fresno State 83

The recruiting rankings over the past five years show that Boise never truly trailed the Bulldogs by much aside the 2002 recruiting class. As I stated earlier the Bulldogs had an outstanding 2001 season which very well may have been the number one reason for the strong class the Bulldogs brought in. In fact I would even argue that the most important reason for recruiting success is winning. If teams such as the Bulldogs or Broncos have successful seasons and are put on the national stage recruits will come calling. However, if either of these teams have a set of down seasons the recruiting classes will be heavily affected. Prior to 2001 Boise State had not made a name for themselves due to their conference affiliation. Their 2001 win over a highly ranked Fresno State team pushed the Broncos into a meteoric rise that eventually put the Broncos in a BCS game. However, because the Broncos were a member of the Big West their recruiting prior to 2002 heavily suffered. Fresno State had much of the same problem prior to 2001 due to their mediocre play. Prior to 2001 the Bulldogs flirted with the .500 mark for seven seasons. To say that it is hard to recruit when the football team is not having success on the football field is an understatement. If a school such as Fresno State is not receiving any national attention in turn they will have problems recruiting. Fortunately for both Fresno and Boise this is not a problem they have to deal with any longer.

There are many reasons for recruiting success across the nation. Schools such as Florida and USC will always be near the top with respect to recruiting classes due to their location, history, facilities, and tradition. Fresno State and Boise State have to recruit far more than a school like USC. USC can point to their national championships and exposure and a recruit will automatically fall in love with the program while the Broncos and Bulldogs instead have to sell the goals of their program to recruits. Do the two WAC schools come out on top from time to time? Well of course there will be recruits who would rather attend the smaller schools because they know their chances of playing increase heavily. At the same time Fresno State has been known as a school that puts players into the NFL. With that type of reputation the Bulldogs should continue to get solid recruits throughout the years. Boise State sells a system of togetherness where the sum of the parts equals an outstanding whole. These two schools may take a different approach to recruiting but over the years the classes they have brought in are virtually the same. Boise State seems to have Fresno State's number on the football field, but with these classes being so close together that trend will not continue forever. Eventually all good things come to an end and Boise's dominance in this series will come to an end in the near future if for no other reason than the fact that the recruits are so equal. As I stated before recruiting is a nightmare. You never truly know how a player will perform until he steps on the football field. With that being said the only way to truly judge the 2007 recruiting classes of both Boise and Fresno is to wait until the 2007 football season starts. We will then have an idea just how good these players coming into their respective systems truly are.

Note: Tomorrow I would like to do a piece on players leaving early for the draft. I think Colt Brennan is making a mistake and will cover why I believe that. I only hope he rethinks his decision and changes his mind before the deadline.


Anonymous said...

Good Blog, NSC. I think that, due to our recent struggles, Pat Hill will put some younger, faster talent on the field this year. If so, then we will get a chance to evaluate this class sooner than usual.

Recruiting-wise, one thing a coach can be pretty sure of is speed. We may have taken our eyes of the "quickness ball" when talent-searching of late, but I'm betting that doesn't happen again! Modern football just requires a lot of speed, in all elements of the game.

Steve Burnes

nsc said...

Speed seems to be the most important aspect of college football today. Every coach wants to run their own gimmick offense, whether it be the run and shoot or the pistol. Urban Meyer has brought forth many innovative ideas to the college football game and because of coaches of this sort the game has changed. No longer do option offenses rule the game because of the speed that defenses have. Fresno State is trying to become one of those teams with more speed than those they play. We can only hope it works out in the end.

el perro chato said...

I think the dogs are having a very good recruiting year. I think a couple of those 2 star rated players are going to get a shot at the NFL.

Bernard Berrian isn't from Avenal, he's from Atwater High. Paul Williams is from Avenal High.

nsc said...

El Perro good call. But come on now they both start with A and they are both close to home. My bad on that mistake, I am sure everyone picked up on that one.

Anonymous said...

Excellent job NSC. It is a pleasure to read your insight.
I truly hope that the trend of recruiting favors the Dogs in the following years. Many kids are begining to realize that playing at Fresno State gives them a shot on national TV and eventually maybe even a shot in the NFL.
Go Dogs!!