Success breeds even more success.
That’s the hope, anyway, for Idaho football coach Paul Petrino.
The Vandals finished last season with a 9-4 record, including a 61-50 victory over Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It was one of their most successful seasons in years.
That success resulted in what Petrino said could be his best class in five seasons of recruiting players to Moscow. Petrino announced Idaho’s class of 2017 on Wednesday afternoon.
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“You never know for sure for a couple of years, but just on paper, I have to say for sure it’s one of the best classes we’ve signed,” Petrino said. “I think the success we had this year really helped fire that, and the bowl game was huge. … There were some guys we got in this class that I don’t think we would have had a chance to get the last couple of years.”
The 16 players announced include 14 high school players and two junior college transfers. They will join four other JC transfers who were added to the program this month and two grayshirts.
“I think the season really helped make this a good recruiting class,” Petrino said. “It made it a lot easier. I think you walk around the high schools and everybody wanted to talk to you. It helps you get into homes. … It helped us get some guys to come visit here that maybe in the past we wouldn’t have come to visit.”
Last year’s team had several players whose relatives were Vandals before them.
That tradition continues with this year’s class.
Nate DeGraw, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound defensive lineman out of Post Falls High, follows in his father Mike’s footsteps. Mike DeGraw played for Petrino when he was a Vandals assistant in the mid-1990s.
“It’s a great thing,” Petrino said. “Any time you can get former Vandals’ sons to come in — especially if they’re, hopefully, better players than their dad — it just becomes more of a family. They care a little bit more. They’ve grown up their whole life hearing about the Vandals and following the Vandals. So I think it’s great when we can make that happen.
“(Nate) looks like he shaves about once a month. Really young. He’s just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Christian Elliss, a linebacker out of Highlands Ranch, Colo., is another player continuing a legacy. Elliss’ brother, Kaden, also a linebacker, was one of the top players on Idaho’s defense last season.
“(Christian) is probably as good of a talent that I’ve signed since I’ve been here,” Petrino said. “He was the MVP of the state championship, and flat-out a football player. He’s a little bigger, a little faster than his brother was at this age. I give his brother a hard time about that all the time.”
Elliss wasn’t a slam-dunk recruit for Petrino, however.
“Christian Elliss, if you have to say one guy that we fought the most for, he’s probably the one,” Petrino said. “I think at one point he thought Mississippi State was something that was going to happen. But we’re just really excited he’s going to be a Vandal.”
The recruiting class includes four players from in-state, including DeGraw.
“It’s very important,” Petrino said. “To get the best ones is even more important. I think we did a good job this year, really the last two years. … Hopefully, that’s something we continue to build on.”
Here’s what Petrino had to say about the three Idaho players, other than DeGraw.
▪ Harrison Ashby, TE, Capital High: “Very athletic. He kind of grew up a basketball player his whole life. … He has great hands and can really change directions well. A good route runner. He’s kind of built in the same mode as Deon (Watson) and Trent (Cowan).” Those two tight ends combined for 1,242 receiving yards and nine touchdowns as seniors last season.
▪ Maxim Moore, OL, Eagle High: “Probably the first guy signed to play in Moscow, Idaho, who was born in Moscow, Russia. … He’s big enough and physical and strong enough to have a chance to play early, as a freshman offensive lineman.”
▪ Colton Richardson, QB, Lewiston High: “He’s a really good football player from right down the street. He’s 6-4, 230 pounds, and had a great senior year. … I was very surprised (he wasn’t recruited more heavily), but I’m happy to have him come here. I just think all the little things he got better at each year as he got older.’’
IDAHO VANDALS’ CLASS OF 2017
▪ TE Harrison Ashby, 6-2, 220, Capital High (Boise): Played one year of high school football, catching 34 passes for 578 yards as a senior. ... standout on the Capital basketball team.
▪ ATH Zach Borisch, 6-0, 180, Kamiakin High (Kennewick, Wash.): Two-star recruit according to Scout. ... As a senior, led Kamiakin to first state title and scored the winning TD in the championship game. ... named the 3A Player of the Year after throwing for 2,848 yards and running for more than 600. ... threw for 1,490 yards and ran for 476 as a junior. ... state qualifier in wrestling and track. ... national judo champion.
▪ OL Seth Carnahan, 6-7, 255, Sumner (Wash.) High: Two-star recruit according to Scout. ... Played two years of high school football but helped lead Sumner to a 22-2 record as the left tackle. ... played for the Seattle Rotary AAU team and is averaging 15 points per game for the Sumner basketball team.
▪ DB Tyrese Dedmon, 6-1, 180, Antelope Valley High (Lancaster, Calif.): Two-star recruit according to Scout, Rivals and 247Sports. ... Notched 66 tackles and ran for 669 yards as a senior at Antelope Valley. ... had 61 tackles as a junior, and 69 tackles and four interceptions as sophomore. ... three-time All-Golden League selection. ... member of CIF fourth-place 4x100 relay team.
▪ DE Nate DeGraw, 6-3, 235, Post Falls High: Two-year starter at Post Falls. ... first team All-Inland Empire League as a junior and senior, and earned second team all-state honors as a senior. DeGraw’s father, Mike, played at Idaho.
▪ LB Christian Elliss, 6-3, 215, Valor Christian High (Highlands Park, Colo.): Two-star recruit (Scout). ... Son of former NFL player Luther Elliss and brother of current Vandal Kaden. ... 65 tackles as a senior and was named South Metro co-Defensive Player of the Year. ... played in all-Polynesian game. ... helped lead Valor Christian to state championship as a senior. ... ran for 226 yards on offense and had 337 receiving yards.
▪ WR Cutrell Haywood, 6-0, 190, Stagg High (Stockton, Calif.): Accounted for 2,216 all-purpose yards as a senior, including 1,644 yards and 22 TDs as a receiver. ... collected 30 tackles and intercepted five passes as a defensive back. ... caught 62 passes for 915 yards and 11 TDs and had 14 tackles and five interceptions as a junior.
▪ DB Jalen Hoover, 5-10, 170, Northwest Rankin High (Brandon, Miss.): Two-star recruit according to Scout. ... first team all-state in 2016 and led Northwest Rankin to a 10-3 record. ... had 46 tackles and three interceptions as a senior. ... collected 41 tackles and three interceptions as a junior. ... had 94 tackles as a sophomore. ... member of the track team.
▪ RB Roshaun Johnson, 6-1, 240, Desert Edge High (Goodyear, Ariz.): Two-star recruit according to Scout, Rivals and 247Sports. ... Accounted for 4,679 all-purpose yards in his four-year career and was a three-time team captain at Desert Edge. ... ran for 586 yards on 88 carries and added 601 yards on 34 receptions as a senior. ... had 688 rushing yards and 481 receiving as a junior. ... ran for 1,032 yards and added 263 receiving yards as a sophomore. ... rushed for 751 yards and had 295 receiving yards as a freshman. ... member of school’s basketball team.
▪ OL Dylan Korte, 6-8, 305, Casa Grande High (Petaluma, Calif.): Two-star recruit according to Scout. ... Named to Junior Prep Sports California team as a senior. ... played in Paradise Classic, Blue-Grey All-American Bowl and GG Showcase. ... played basketball and lacrosse until he entered high school.
▪ QB Dylan Lemle, 6-2, 190, Hawkins High (Los Angeles): Three-star prospect according to Scout, Rivals and 247Sports. ... Played at powerhouse Hawkins, where he led the team to a 13-1 record in 2016. ... threw for 3,335 yards and 32 TDs and ran for another 623 yards and three TDs as a senior. ... threw for 2,404 yards and added an additional 278 on the ground as a junior.
▪ OL Maxim Moore, 6-3, 285, Eagle High: Two-star recruit according to Scout and 247Sports. ... Originally from Moscow, Russia. ... played two years at Eagle, earning second-team All-Idaho and All-Southern Idaho Conference honors. ... began his career at Westlake (Calif.) High, where he became the first player in school history to start on the offensive line as a freshman. ... played on U-16 and U-17 USA football teams.
▪ CB Wyryor Noil, 6-1, 180, Madison High (Portland): Three-star (Scout) and a two-star (247Sports) recruit. ... Portland Interscholastic League Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. ... started on defense, earned first-team all-league on both sides of the ball in 2016. ... family moved from New Orleans to Portland after Hurricane Katrina.
▪ CB Tyrece Parker, 6-2, 180, Coffeyville CC (Topeka, Kansas): Collected 38 tackles and 10 pass breakups as a sophomore at Coffeyville. ... three-sport athlete at Topeka High.
▪ QB Colton Richardson, 6-4, 230, Lewiston High: Two-star recruit according to Scout and 247Sports. ... Idaho’s Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today as a senior. ... completed 72 percent of his passes for 3,500 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2016. ... Inland Empire League MVP as a junior and senior and named American Family Insurance All-USA Inland Northwest first team and All-North Idaho Player of the Year as a senior.
▪ DL Ben Taliulu, 6-1, 255, Los Angeles Valley College (Aiea, Hawaii): Made 26 tackles and added 3.5 sacks as a sophomore at Los Angeles Valley. ... first team All-California Community College Athletic Association in 2016 as the Monarchs went undefeated.