Meet Boise State football's offensive signees
The Boise State Broncos added 28 players officially Wednesday, signing 24 newcomers in addition to the four who signed in December.
Here is a look at the Boise State football signing class on the offensive side, what the coaches liked about their new additions, how they got them, and which of them enjoys “Harsining.”
OL Will Adams, 6-7, 303, Sr., Auburn (Tyrone, Ga.)
Bio: Transferred from Auburn after appearing in 38 games as a reserve in the past three seasons. Was a three-star prospect out of high school. Signed in December and will take part in spring practices.
Inside look: Boise State can tip its hat to former defensive end Beau Martin for the assist on Adams. Martin was working as a strength coach at Auburn and knew Adams had hoped to play one more season elsewhere as a graduate transfer. Former offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz had some close ties to Auburn coaches, and new co-OC Scott Huff said they liked his film even if he “hadn’t necessarily started in the SEC, but he had played.”
“You cannot miss him,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “This is a man. ... He’s in here to help us immediately on the offensive line.”
OL Kole Bailey, 6-5, 285, Fr., Twin Falls HS
Bio: Three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247 sports...top-ranked recruit in the state of Idaho according to Scout.com and 247Sports Composite...named to the All-Idaho 4A First Team as a senior...was a second-team all-state and first-team all-conference selection as a junior. Graduated early from high school, signed in December and will take part in spring practices.
Inside look: Long on Boise State's radar just down I-84 in Twin Falls, Bailey impressed in the Broncos' camps and committed in June. Coach Bryan Harsin has seen him play a few times in person, saying he likes his energy and “he’s a great fit for the mentality we have.”
“He came out of nowhere and said he wanted to graduate early, that was never initially part of the plan - he brought it up to us,” co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Scott Huff said. “(we said) shoot man, if you can get it done, that would be awesome.”
TE John Bates, 6-6, 215, Fr., Lebanon (Ore.) HS
Bio: Three-star recruit per ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports.com...spent his first two years at Nyssa High School in Oregon before moving to Lebanon...two-time Oregon 5A selection, named to the first team as a senior and to the second team as a junior...named to Oregon 3A Second Team as a sophomore...named to The Oregonian's All-State Second Team as a senior...thrice named all-league, earning All-Mid Willamette Valley Conference honors at wide receiver, defensive back and punter in 2014 and 2015...named to All-Eastern Oregon League First Team as a defensive back while earning second-team honors as a receiver following his sophomore season...also competed in basketball and track...in basketball was named to All-EOL First Team as a sophomore and All-MWVL honorable mention as a junior...three-time qualifier for the Oregon State Track Championships, helping Lebanon to team titles in 2014 (3A) and 2015 (5A) while capturing consecutive titles in the 110-meter hurdles (2014-15) in addition to the javelin title in 2015...named all-level Male Athlete of the Meet at state as a junior, as along with his hurdles and javelin titles he finished second in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump.
Inside look: Bates had been committed to Oregon State since July, but flipped to Boise State in January. Tight ends coach Kent Riddle said the Broncos were very interested in Bates when he camped in Boise, but weren’t in the market for a tight end like Bates. But soon after David Lucero was kicked off the team, a spot opened up. Bates grew up in Fruitland and Nyssa in a family of Boise State fans. “We were fortunate he had a lot of connections to the Boise area,” Riddle said. Bates’ athleticism was a huge draw for the Broncos, playing multiple positions while excelling in basketball and track.
“We weren’t really looking for that type of tight end, a Jake Roh-type guy, but the situation with David Lucero, all of the sudden we were sitting there going ‘OK, maybe we should have a guy like that,’” Riddle said. That was our No.1 guy all along, and when we had an opportunity to get a guy like that, we wanted to.”
WR Julian Carter, 6-3, 190, Fr., Saguaro High (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Bio: The No. 9 player in the state of Arizona, Carter is rated as a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, and Scout.com has him ranked as the No. 160 player...helped Saguaro High School to a 12-2 season and the Arizona Division III State Championship...was an all-section selection as a junior and a senior...concluded his senior season with 626 receiving yards, 41 catches and seven touchdowns...had similar numbers as a junior, recording 701 receiving yards, 49 catches and seven touchdowns...made the honor roll in high school.
Inside look: Another long-standing commit (since June), Carter missed the first two games of the season after transferring high schools. He is a key part of the Broncos’ push to put together a bigger receiving corps, which had only one scholarship receiver taller than 6-1 on the roster when the season ended. The staff’s visit to Carter’s home also turned out to be one of the most enjoyable, as his mother served steak and lobster. Coach Bryan Harsin said “I think our visit turned into about a three-and-a-half-hour visit.” Receivers coach Junior Adams said “he was all in from Day 1, came here on an official, committed as soon as he got home, and he's been solid the whole time.”
“Size obviously jumped out to me,” Adams said. “... I’m always intrigued by guys that haven't really been playing the position that long. Julian, in his case, he's only really been playing football for four years, so I was kind of intrigued by that. To see him grow from the start of the season to the end of the season ... you can see the growth of him and see him develop.”
OL Ezra Cleveland, 6-6, 275, Fr., Bethel HS (Spanaway, Wash.)
Bio: 247Sports Composite ranks him a three-star recruit and the No. 24 player in Washington, along with the No. 107 player at his position in the country...a two-star according to Rivals.com... racked up 41 tackles and four sacks in his senior campaign at Bethel HS...was named Bethel's defensive player of the year and was also a member of the Washington all-state team as chosen by the Associated Press...also earned lineman of the year honors in his conference after being named a first-team all-area defensive lineman and a first-team all-conference offensive lineman...also played baseball and wrestled while at Bethel.
Inside look: Committed to Boise State since June, he’s a classic case of Bronco recruiting - a guy under the radar the team gets to commit early, and sees the attention start to pour in. Coach Bryan Harsin called him “a guy coach (Scott) Huff has bult a tremendous relationshp with. Been solid the entire time, really fought to keep him, not that he ever wavered, but a lot of teams coming after him because of his size, etc.” Harsin also called Cleveland “a mountain of a man.”
“Really, really excited about Ezra, he’s 6-6, close to 310 already,” said Huff, the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. “He’s strong, played mainly defense this year. He did play some offense, that tackle position. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s very ahtletic.”
QB Jake Constantine, 6-1, 185, Fr., Camarillo (Calif.) HS
Bio: Three-star recruit per ESPN and 247Sports.com, two-star per Yahoo...helped lead Camarillo to a 15-1 record, the CIF Southern Section Northern Division title and an appearance in the CIF State Division II-AA Football Championship Bowl in 2015...named 2015 CIF Southern Section Northern Division Offensive Player of the Year in 2015...selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Medium Schools Team as a senior...also named Camino League Player of the Year...as a senior threw for 3,988 yards and 51 touchdowns with a 72.2 completion percentage.
Inside look: Recruiting is a strange world sometimes. See Constantine’s numbers, his team’s record, the area he plays in, and assume he’d at least have a few offers. Not quite. When Boise State was the first to offer two weeks ago when Micah Wilson decommitted for Missouri, Constantine jumped on it.
“It’s not always an exact science, and we’re not always right,” co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Zak Hill said. “Different coaches are looking for different things ... he put up gaudy numbers, and sometimes it takes that one offer. He was that kid waiting for that one offer, then all right, Boise State offers, then bam, a number offers roll in after that.”
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said there can be a little too much nitpicking with fundamentals and his movement in the pocket, all things a good staff can iron out. He noted that Constantine’s offense changed before his junior year, and took some adjustment. Most teams try to get their quarterbacks committed before their senior year, so that may have put Constantine at a slight disadvantage.
“He was probably into game six of his junior year still figuring out what he was doing on a week-to-week basis,” Harsin said. “From there he kind of took off and then his senior year that’s when it starts to click, but by that time in recruiting some guys already have their guys.”
TE Nick Crabtree, 6-6, 250, Fr., Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS
Bio: Three-star recruit per ESPN, Scout.com, 247Sports.com...ranked as a “tight end/wide receiver to watch” by the Orange County Register prior to the 2015 season...caught 21 passes for 332 yards as a junior.
Inside look: An intriguing prospect because of his size and his under-utilization in a run-heavy offense. Coach Bryan Harsin called him “a vacuum cleaner when it comes to catching the football.” Committed since August, he's been one of the most enthusiastic voices in the class, starting the “#DoTheHars” hashtag on Twitter to poke a little fun at Harsin’s standard pose in photos. Tight ends coach Kent Riddle has even paid him a visit where he works - Pinky's Cupcakery. He echoed Harsin, saying “he’s a huge guy, catches anything near him.”
“He certainly fits a need losing Holden Huff and Jake Hardee, guys that were dominant in the run game,” Riddle said. “... Nick’s a guy that should be able to do all that stuff, and physically, he’s ready to do it.”
OL Austin Dixon, 6-6, 265, Fr., Corona del Sol HS (Tempe, Ariz.)
Bio: Rated a three-star recruit by Scout.com...started at offensive tackle, being named to the All-Section and All-City First Teams...helped lead Corona del Sol to an appearance in the state playoffs...also played volleyball for Corona del Sol, earning one letter and expecting to earn a second in 2016...named a “Scholar Baller” at Corona del Sol, as owner of a GPA of 3.5 or above.
Inside look: A prospect with a frame able to add some weight on it, he was offered late in process, in early January, committing Jan. 24. He had some late interest from Purdue, but Boise State held strong. Co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Scott Huff is a Phoenix native that played offensive line for the Broncos. Huff knew Corona del Sol line coach Mike Pollock from his time as a graduate assistant at Arizona State. The Broncos hope Dixon can play tackle. Huff said “he kind of came out nowere,” with high upside.
“A guy that’s going to devleop and put his weight on once he gets here,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “He’ll be a 280-285 guy, after 6 months be a 300-pound guy that can really move. He’s got great feet, still young at the position and just developing.”
OL Donte Harrington, 6-2, 300, Fr., San Clemente (Calif.) HS
Bio: Three-star recruit according to Scout.com and the 247Sports Composite...rated as the 13th-best center nationally in the 2016 class...also rated No. 1 at the position in California and No. 3 in the West...four-year starter for the Tritons helped lead his squad to a runner-up finish in the CIF Southwest Division in his final prep campaign...named first-team All-Sea View League, first-team All-CIF Southwest Division and first-team All-Orange County as a senior for head coach Jaime Ortiz...did not allow a sack on the season...junior year garnered first-team All-Sea View League, first-team All-CIF Southwest Division and third-team All-Orange County honors...allowed only one sack...two-time Scholar-Athlete Award recipient was also twice named to the superintendent's honor roll...seven-time member of the principal's honor roll.
Inside look: He committed to Army one day last week, and flipped to Boise State the next. His smarts appealed to the Broncos, as did the fact he started four years at San Clemente, a perennial power. The Broncos expect him to play inside, either at guard or center. Offensive line coach Scott Huff said he “really kind of likes playing center.”
“We really had a battle with him with Army and his parents went to West Point,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “That was a big thing for him and we knew that was going to be a big battle. We’re walking in (the house) as Army’s walking out. ... He was kind of back and forth a little bit on it. He hit me up with a really long DM at one point that just said, ‘Coach, I can’t sleep, I’ve been thinking about you, I want to be a Bronco.’ I’m reading this going, ‘Let’s do it.’”
RB Robert Mahone, 5-11, 190, Fr., Prosper (Texas) High
Bio: A two-star running back according to Scout.com...after playing his first two years of high school football as a safety, Mahone switched to running back and immediately excelled, racking up 868 yards and 12 touchdowns his junior season...continued to grow as a senior, finishing the year with 1,172 yards and 16 touchdowns on 125 carries...first-team All-District 10-5A his junior and senior seasons, along with being named team captain both years as well.
Inside look: A focal point on a team that 6-5 last season, Mahone is a strong back starting to scratch his potential, only playing the position his last two years of high school, and coaches said he is already around 210 pounds. He committed in June, turning down offers from Houston, Colorado State, Arkansas State and more, and followed it up with a strong senior campaign.
“He’s been a big piece to this puzzle,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
RB Alexander Mattison, 5-11, 200, Fr., San Bernardino (Calif.) HS
Bio: Three-star recruit per ESPN, Yahoo, Scout.com and 247Sports.com...twice named to San Bernardino Sun First Team (2014-15)...selected to play in both the Inland Valley Football Classic following his senior season...ran for over 2,000 yards in each of his final two seasons, going for 2,017 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior and 2,057 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2015...won a league wrestling title at 195 pounds and was named all-league as a junior...also ran track, winning the Mountain Valley League title in the 110 hurdles...boasts a 4.8 cumulative grade-point average.
Inside look: A late addition, but a big one, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 16 running back in the nation. Coaches said they could have attempted to take Mattison as a safety when they had two running backs committed, but Damarea Crockett’s flip to Missouri necessitated a full-on press to get Mattison two weeks ago. Even if the Broncos have had some recent workhorse backs, history has shown the need for multiple backs, even in one class. Running backs coach Lee Marks said Mattison was patient, that “he knew our situation and was good with it.” Also rare in this day and age, Mattison does not have Twitter, so Facebook was a primary route of contact.
“Alexander was someone I wanted from day 1,” Marks said. “He’s kind of a kid who’s kind of hard to get a hold of, which was a good thing for us.”
WR Bubba Ogbebor, 6-1, 190, Fr., Heritage HS (Frisco, Texas)
Bio: Three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247Sports...three-year letterwinner rated one of the top 20 receivers in the state of Texas according to Scout...named first-team All-District 9-5A both his junior and senior seasons for head coach Che Hendrix...caught 74 passes for 1,282 yards and 14 touchdowns during his final prep campaign...caught 64 passes for 1,056 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior, leading the Coyotes to the district championship...as a sophomore, garnered honorable mention All-District 10-4A honors after catching 11 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns...two-time letterwinner in track and field.
Inside look: Though he is the smallest of the receiver signees - receivers coach Junior Adams says he’s about 6-foot - Ogbebor has a 77-inch wingspan. Adams praised his versatility, saying ‘Bubba can kind of do it all ... he can run the sweep, he can line up and play wildcat, he can play outside, he can play inside.’ Ogbebor hails from the same hometown as former Bronco running back Jay Ajayi. He had offers from Iowa and Texas Tech, among others, keeping his commitment fairly quiet until signing day. In the final days leading up to it, Oklahoma came knocking, and Boise State wanted to make sure he was solid.
“(Tight ends coach Kent Riddle) had to put up a picket fence to knock off a Big 12 school that was in the playoff this past season that was waiting for (Bubba) at his home to try to do a home visit,” Adams said. “I thought we did a good job just building a good relationship with that kid. ... When he told me, ‘Coach, trust me, this is where I want to be,’ I trusted him. Oklahoma came into the picture after that again, and I trusted him.”
WR Cedrick Wilson Jr., 6-3, 190, Jr., Coffeyville CC (Memphis, Tenn.)
Bio: Named an NJCAA All-American as a sophomore after ranking third nationally and leading the Jayhawk Conference with 116.1 receiving yards per game...caught 66 passes and racked up 1,045 receiving yards, the second-highest season yardage total in school history...topped the conference and ranked fourth in the nation with 17 touchdown receptions...Quarterbacked his high school team to the 6A state semifinals his senior season.
Inside look: Boise State had an early edge in Wilson’s recruitment, as defensive line coach Steve Caldwell helped recruit Wilson’s father to Tennessee. Cedrick Wilson Sr. played in the NFL. “If he winds up as good as his father, we’ll be OK,” Caldwell said. The Broncos were in need of a big target, and one that could immediately help provide more options in addition to primary returners Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson. Receivers coach Junior Adams said Wilson has already added about 10 pounds in the month he's been on campus.
“We talk about making 50-50 grabs, I don’t want to make them 50 percent of the time, I want to make them 99 percent of the time, the moment of truth grabs,” Adams said. “He makes those plays when he’s covered, that’s what he brings to the table for us.”