Bronco Beat

Boise State football signing day live blog: Broncos add 19 newcomers

Boise State’s recruiting class officially welcomed 19 newcomers Wednesday, five already are on campus and one is coming back from a two-year church mission.

Coach Bryan Harsin said adding talent to the receiving corps was key, as the Broncos signed three, along with finding athletic defensive backs, most of whom also played on offense.

“The three wide receivers we got, that was a big push to get that number up,” Harsin said. “Every position mattered, but corner was a big one.

“It was an emphasis, guys that have a knack ... athletes in general.”

Of the 19 newcomers, the Broncos signed two quarterbacks, one running back, three wide receivers, three offensive linemen, one defensive lineman, four linebackers and five defensive backs.

USA Today ranked the Broncos’ class No. 2 among Group of Five schools, behind only Memphis, saying “It’s just more of the same from Bryan Harsin and the Broncos, who annually blend together local prospects, JUCO signees and some overlooked California stars to lead the way in the Mountain West Conference. As in the past, Boise State fended off late offers from Power Five schools — including (Aisa) Kelemete, who turned down Southern California just before signing day — to add another talented class to its collection.”


Midlothian (Va.) cornerback Jermani Brown was the first signee of the day, coming in at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. Rated as a four-star recruit by, he began his prep career in California before moving to Virginia before his senior season.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete, highly intelligent kid, plays offense and defense, is a returner, he really wants to be a returner. Very explosive kid,” cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose said. “He’s that kid that can be special later on in his career.”


Brown was the lone signee from the Eastern Time Zone, and the next wave came when the Central Time Zone began to sign, at 6 a.m. From Texas, the Broncos signed linebacker Breydon Boyd and receiver Cartrell Thomas in the first half hour. Check out Thomas’ highlights:


The first signee from the Mountain Time Zone was the lone prep quarterback in the class, Chase Cord.

Cord is the state of Arizona’s all-time touchdown pass leader, and he’s eager to get started as the longest-known commit of the class. He turned down interest from Baylor late in the process. Check out there story here.’s national director of recruiting, Brandon Huffman, discusses what he sees in Boise State’s recruiting class here.


The Pacific Time Zone started pouring in at 8 a.m., starting with outside linebacker Roman Kafentzis.

Running back Drake Beasley has signed on the dotted line. Once a four-star recruit, he did not play his senior season, which prompted running backs coach Lee Marks to say he “doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder, he has a boulder on his shoulder.”


Signing day is never short of interesting stories. A few tidbits from Harsin: he said he spilled a bowl of gumbo on himself when eating at defensive back Tyreque Jones’ house, took a Texas receiver sledding for the first time (and said Kafentzis’ father took a good fall), Cord’s bedroom is plastered with the letters he’s received from Boise State coaches, and when he visited Texas linebacker Breydon Boyd, he showed off his knife collection.

Click here to see Harsin and the assistant coaches discussing the first round of signees.


Michael Young, an offensive lineman from Queen Creek, Ariz., committed to Boise State in May, but will not sign Wednesday because of academic reasons. He’s expected to go the junior college route. Quentin Brown, a defensive back from Conroe, Texas, had been a Boise State commit, but signed with Tulane.

Harsin said the team has placed sophomore defensive tackle Sonatane Lui and junior tight end Jake Knight, a Rocky Mountain High grad, on scholarship. Lui joined the team last January as a walk-on freshman and played immediately last fall. Knight had two catches for 56 yards last season, his first on the field after redshirting in 2015 as a transfer from Auburn’s track and field program.



RB Drake Beasley, 5-11, 185, La Canada HS (La Canada Flintridge, Calif.)

Three-star recruit according to Scout, Rivals, ESPN and 247sports...rated as the No. 5 running back in the state of California and the No. 8 running back in the west, per Scout...rushed for 1,647 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior at Loyola High School before transferring to La Canada...did not compete during his senior season.

Running backs coach Lee Marks: “We’re really getting a great player, I feel doesn’t just have a chip ... he’s a big old boulder on his shoulder right now.”

LB Breydon Boyd, 6-3, 215, Katy (Texas) High

Three-star recruit per ESPN,, Rivals, 247Sports...two-time All-District 19-6A selection, being named to the First Team in 2016 and to the Second Team in 2015...named a team captain in 2016 and helped the team to its eighth-straight district title and reached the Round of 16 in the state 6A Division I tournament...helped lead Katy to Texas Class 6A Division II title in 2015, a season in which he recorded 66 tackles and 6.0 sacks...Katy defense that season allowed just 62 points as the team went 16-0.

Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos: “We’ve been on Breydon for some time. ... He’s a long, rangy linebacker that has good instincts in the box. Also a very good blitzer, which we want to do more of from the linebacker position.”

CB Jermani Brown, 5-11, 175, Midlothian (Va.) High

Four-star recruit per ESPN, 247Sports, Rivals and four aforementioned outlets have him as one of the top 30 cornerbacks in the country...ESPN rated him as the No. 10 player in the state of Virginia for the class of 2017...earned first-team all-conference honors and was a Virginia All-Star Game selection in 2016...named to the American Family Insurance Second Team ALL-USA Virginia Football Team. Name is pronounced like Germany.

Cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose: “Jermani’s a phenomenal athlete, plays both ways, he’s a returner. ... I’m excited for us Broncos to grab a kid like that.”

WR Damon Cole, 6-1, 170, El Cerrito (Calf.) High

Three-star recruit according to Scout and 247sports...named to All-East Bay Area First Team by the Bay Area News Group in 2016...named All-Metro honorable mention by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2016...helped El Cerrito to NCS Division III quarterfinals in 2016...twice named to All-Tri-County First Team (2015-16)...totaled 1,640 all-purpose yards, 19 touchdowns as a junior in 2015...also played defensive back at El Cerrito.

Receivers coach Eric Kiesau: “He’s an electric athlete. ... I’ve known Damon for a long time, got really close to his family, so when I got here, that transition was really easy to rekindle that relationship.”

QB Chase Cord, 6-4, 185, Sunrise Mountain HS (Peoria, Ariz.)

Three-star recruit according to Scout, Rivals, ESPN and 247sports...rated 21st nationally at his position per ESPN, and 23rd nationally per Rivals...rated as the 11th-best quarterback in the west, per Scout...concluded his prep career as the state of Arizona's all-time leader in career touchdown passes (137)...through his four years as a starting quarterback, completed 528-of-829 passes for 9,493 yards...tossed just 20 interceptions...also rushed 391 times for 2,393 yards and 38 touchdowns throughout his career...senior year completed 149-of-249 passes for 2,721 yards, 38 touchdowns and just five interceptions...also rushed 74 times for 154 yards and six scores...was named district and section offensive player of the year, and also garnered section first-team all-league and honorable mention all-state honors in each of his final two prep a junior, completed 169-of-237 passes for 3,173 yards and 52 touchdowns, while tossing just six interceptions...also rushed 109 times for 1,059 yards and 13 touchdowns...sophomore year went 139-of-228 for 2,286 yards, 33 touchdowns and five interceptions, earning his first of three first-team all-section honors...rushed 146 times for 933 yards and 12 touchdowns...thrust into the starting role as a freshman, completed 71-of-115 passes for 1,313 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions...picked up 247 rushing yards on 62 carries, and scored seven times...played in and was named Offensive MVP of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl...named honorable mention all-section...also lettered in basketball and track & field, and was a member of his school's honor roll.

Quarterbacks coach Zak Hill: “Really, really, really excited about this kid. He’s one of those guys we were on early. Last year on this day was on the phone with him. ... He’s been 100 percent committed all the way through.”

WR Octavius Evans, 6-3, 185, Center (Texas) High

Three-star recruit according to ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports and in 254 receptions for 3,200 yards and 26 touchdowns over the course of his four-year career at Center High School...a First Team 2016 District 9-4A, Division 1 All-District honoree as a wide receiver...was given the Receiver MVP award at the APEC East Texas Football Recruiting Combine last May...helped Center to a 6-5 record his senior season where he led the team in receptions (66), receiving yards (852) and receiving touchdowns (6)...was key in the Roughriders' run in 2015 where they finished 10-3 and made it to the regional round of the 2015 UIL Texas Football 4A State Championships...a two-sport athlete that also excels in basketball...was named the UIL All-District 9-4A Player of the Year for the 2015-16 basketball season.

Receivers coach Eric Kiesau: “Very, very athletic. Also plays basketball. ... He’s kind of an intriguing young man, a very, very humble, hard-working, blue-collar. He’ll fit into this program great. He’ll walk into a room and you’ll go ‘wow, that’s a freshman?’”

DB Tyreque Jones, 6-2, 180, San Gorgonio HS (San Bernardino, Calif.)

Ranked as a three-star recruit according to ESPN,, 247Sports and Rivals...named a team captain in 2016...was a First Team All-Sun selection as a utility player on defense...enjoyed a monster senior season as he racked up 77 total tackles, picked off two passes and caused two fumbles on the defensive side of the ball while also hauling in 52 receptions for 1,128 yards and 16 touchdowns as a wide receiver...helped San Gorgonio go 11-4 in 2016 to capture the CIF Southern Section Division 7 Championship...was huge in the championship game, tallying 14 total tackles and causing a pair of fumbles to secure the title.

Safeties coach Gabe Franklin: “Big, rangy safety, very versatile athlete. ... The one thing I love about Tyreque is that he’ll hit you and catch the ball as well.”

LB/S Roman Kafentzis, 6-2, 185, Mater Dei HS (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)

Three-star recruit according to ESPN,, 247Sports, and a two-star recruit per Rivals...named a team captain as a senior...was a First Team Trinity All-League selection in 2016...registered 49 total tackles - 38 of which were solo - his senior season...helped Mater Dei to a 13-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking according to in 2016...reached the CIF Southern Section Division I Championship game as a senior...finished his prep career with 102 total tackles and three interceptions.

Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos: “Roman comes from Mater Dei, which is a very, very good football program in Southern California. ... Once we saw this guy play linebacker on the outside edge and do the things he was doing as a rusher, setting the edge in the run game and in coverage, it was a no-brainer.”

DB Kekaula Kaniho, 6-0, 180, Kahuku (Hawaii) High

Three-star recruit according to ESPN, 247Sports, Rivals and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Defensive Player of the Year...also selected as the 2016 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Hawaii Football Team Defensive Player of the Year...voted the Super 25 Top Star for games played the weekend of Oct. 20-22 by readers of USA TODAY...named a team captain as a senior...led the defense on a Kahuku team that finished 11-2 and made it to the First Hawaiian Bank Open Division State Championship game...Kahuhu was also nationally ranked at season's end, finishing the year at No. 61...finished he senior season with 26.5 total tackles, six interceptions and five defensive touchdowns.

Coach Bryan Harsin: “He’s got a knack. The comparison for some of us former Broncos that are on the staff here is Marty Tadman. I said Jeremy Ioane (for his physical nature), the other part of it too, his savvy, is Marty Tadman.”

STUD Aisa Kelemete, 6-3, 225, Highland HS (Pocatello)

Three-star recruit per ESPN, Scout, 247Sports...despite missing the first three games of 2016 to injury, returned and was named to USA Today's All-Idaho First Team and to the 5A All-Idaho First Team...recorded 3.5 sacks and 28 tackles over seven games in 2016...named to the Idaho State Journal's All-Area First Team in 2015 after recording 32 tackles and 7.0 sacks...two-time all-conference selections (2015-16)...helped Highland to Idaho 5A state title in 2014.

Defensive line coach Steve Caldwell: “It’s been a trip. ... he said this was his family and he wanted to be a part of it, and we’re dang well excited about it.”

OL Isiah Moore, 6-5, 285, Jr., Mesa CC (Tiffin, Ohio)

Four-star recruit according to Scout...three-star recruit according to 247sports and ESPN...rated as the No. 21 junior college prospect on the Scout JuCo Top 100...also ranked amongst the top 100 junior college recruits in the country by 247sports...rated No. 2 nationally at his position by ESPN...rated as the No. 4 offensive guard prospect coming out of junior college by 247sports...started at left tackle as both a freshman and sophomore, garnering all-league honors each season...was a second-team honoree as a freshman, and a first-team recipient as a sophomore...was also named second-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-America as a sophomore, in addition to garnering Mesa's Offensive Most Valuable Player.

Offensive line coach Scott Huff said: “Isiah might be one of the highest-recruited guys we’ve ever signed here, and he made us work really hard. He’s been committed since the summer, and his recruitment really blew up in the last six weeks. ... he should play tackle for us.”

LB Zeke Noa, 6-0, 220, Helix HS (Spring Valley, Calif.)

Three-star recruit per ESPN,, Rivals, 247Sports...played four years of varsity ball at Helix...helped the team to CIF San Diego Section Open Division title in 2015 and runner-up finish in 2016...two-time CIF San Diego Section Defensive Player of the Year and East County Defensive Player of the Year (2015-16)...named to All-CIF San Diego Section Second Team as a sophomore in 2014...has earned spots on the All-East County and All-San Diego County Teams from 2014-16...named a team captain in 2016 and recorded 92 tackles with 9.5 sacks and picked off a pass...also played tight end and running back for Helix, scoring nine touchdowns with 152 receiving yards and 640 rushing yards as a senior...notched 73 tackles, 8.0 sacks as a junior and had two pick-sixes in the state playoffs as Helix reached the Open Division title game...missed the title game with an injury suffered in the semifinals.

Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos: “We had to battle to get him. He’s a guy that’ll be able to come in mentally, physically and compete as a young player because he’s head and shoulders above a lot of the guys out there we could’ve recruited.”

WR Cartrell Thomas, 5-9, 160, Lancaster (Texas) High

Three-star recruit according to Scout, Rivals, ESPN and 247sports...named fifth-best receiver in the Dallas area by the Dallas Morning a senior, caught 60 passes for 1,205 yards and 15 touchdowns, helping to lead his team to the District 10-5A title...hauled in 54 passes for 943 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior.

Receivers coach Eric Kiesau: “He’s an extreme competitor. ... He’s an electric player, has a lot of speed, overcomes his size by his mental makeup and his approach he takes to the game.”


LB Riley Whimpey, 6-2, 210, San Clemente (Calif.) High

Initially signed with the Broncos in 2015, and went on a two-year church mission, will join the team this summer...three-star recruit per rated No. 15 in California and No. 24 in the West Region at outside linebacker...named CIF Southern Section Southwest Division Co-Defensive Player of the Year while claiming the same honor from the Sea View League...earned spot on All-Orange County First Team from the Orange County Register...set the San Clemente record with 172 tackles over 14 games in 2014, leading the Tritons to the league title...spent first three years as a prep at Lone Peak High School in Utah...recorded 101 tackles for Lone Peak in 2013 as the team reached the 5A state semifinals...named to Utah's 5A All-State Second Team as well as first-team academic all-region as a junior...older brothers Kevin and Kyle played at Utah State.

Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos: “He was a guy that was very tough to get two years ago, there were a couple Pac-12 schools who tried to come in like ninjas in the middle of the night and snatch him away from us.”


CB Marques Evans, 6-0, 170, Newbury Park HS (Pasadena, Calif.)

Three-star recruit according to Scout, Rivals, ESPN and 247sports...rated No. 11 in the west at his position according to Scout...garnered first-team All-Camino League honors both his junior and senior seasons, in addition to earning all-county honors both seasons...senior year recorded 38 tackles (28 solo), two interceptions, 10 pass break-ups, one fumble recovery and a blocked field goal...junior year picked off a pair of passes and broke up 10...also played on the offensive side of the ball, catching eight passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in his final prep campaign...caught eight passes for 110 yards as a junior.

Cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose: “He’s a tough kid. ... He’s a good football player, played on offense as well. That’s what I was looking for, guys that can play both ways.”

OL John Ojukwu, 6-6, 285, Boise High

Three-star recruit according to Scout and 247sports...rated the No. 3 and 4 prospect in the state of Idaho per Scout and 247sports, respectively...three-year starter was named both first-team all-conference and first-team all-state as a senior...also played in the East-West Shrine All-Star game following his senior season...lettered in wrestling and track & field in addition to football.

Coach Bryan Harsin: “Big, athletic guy. John’s a guy, in the last couple weeks, he’s been fantastic. We really like him, he’s athletic, figuring things out.”

QB Rathen Ricedorff, 6-1, 200, Jr., Mesa CC (Show Low, Ariz.)

Rated a three-star prospect coming out of junior college by ESPN...rated as the No. 6 junior college quarterback by ESPN and No. 8 at his position by 247sports...named the National Junior College Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year after leading the nation in touchdown passes (42), pass completions (282), pass attempts (434), passing yards (3,688)...Mesa concluded the season ranked No. 5 nationally...also ranked second nationally in passing yards per game (335.3)...was named Western States Football League Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-WSFL...was also named the WSFL Offensive Player of the Week three times, and NJCAA Offensive Player of the Week twice...rushed 90 times for 207 yards and three scores.

Coach Bryan Harsin: “He can run a little bit, he can spin it, smart, mature. ... when Tommy (Stuart) decided to leave, we had an answer.”

OL Zach Troughton, 6-6, 320, Jr., Butte College (Maxwell, Calif.)

Three-star prospect according to 247sports also rated as the No. 14 offensive tackle coming out of junior college...garnered all-region, all-conference, all-state and All-America honors while playing for head coach Jeff Jordan.

Offensive line coach Scott Huff: “He played tackle at Butte, he’s a guy we think we can play inside as a guard/center. Really excited about him, because of his football IQ. He’s caught on extremely fast, and feel like he is a guy that can come in and make an immediate impact.”

CB Michael Young, 6-0, 205, Dodge City CC (Kansas City, Mo.)

Three-star recruit according to Rivals and 247sports...rated No. 12 at his position nationally amongst junior college prospects according to a redshirt sophomore, registered 42 tackles (28 solo) and three tackles-for-loss...forced a pair of fumbles and recovered one, in addition to recording two interceptions, three pass break-ups and three blocked kicks. ... Played safety as a freshman.

Cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose: “Mike is a bigger body, he has the feet and he has the speed to play corner. He played some corner at the juco level, we’re going to have a lot of competition.”


Boise State assistant athletic director for football Brad Larrondo compiled a rough estimate of the amount of work it takes to put a recruiting class in place. Here’s what it takes.

▪  5,000 prospect videos watched by the staff

▪  15,000 text messages sent

▪  1,000 phone calls made

▪  12,000 letters sent to potential recruits

▪  70-80 offers made

▪  65-70 recruits making on-campus visits