Bronco Beat

Taking a deeper look at Boise State’s offensive signees

Boise State had to fend off some serious attention from Power Five schools for Mesa (Ariz.) Community College offensive lineman Isiah Moore, who should vie this fall for a starting job.
Boise State had to fend off some serious attention from Power Five schools for Mesa (Ariz.) Community College offensive lineman Isiah Moore, who should vie this fall for a starting job.

Signing day, in all of its chaotic glory, is now in the rearview, and spring practices are just a month away.

Looking ahead, let’s take a look at Boise State’s nine offensive signees that were announced Wednesday. The Broncos will have two new quarterbacks in 2017, a running back, three receivers and three offensive linemen. With seven tight ends returning next season, the Broncos did not need any for this class.

If you haven’t seen, check out the live blog, recap and videos from signing day:

Coaches on the first round of signees

Discussing California high school recruits

Harsin wraps up signing day

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RB Drake Beasley, 5-11, 185, La Canada High (La Canada Flintridge, Calif.): 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 before transferring to La Canada. ... did not compete during his senior season, as he was declared ineligible after moving schools.

▪  A highly-touted recruit following his big junior season, Boise State had him on their radar well before his transfer drama. Running backs coach Lee Marks kept in consistent contact, and his Southern California roots are strong. Like when the Broncos landed a commitment at almost the same time last year in Alexander Mattison, Beasley had some Power Five interest, but chose to wait to commit, and the Broncos’ patience paid off. Beasley practiced all season, which Marks said was something the staff really admired. With three scholarship running backs returning, and Mattison out in the spring, Beasley will have a very good shot at playing in 2017.

“I think it’s extremely important, the relationship you build with these recruits,” Marks said. “... He’s a one-cut, vertical guy.

“I didn’t offer a whole lot of guys. I was very, very picky about the guys I want to stay very close to.”

WR Damon Cole, 6-1, 170, El Cerrito (Calif.) High: Named to All-East Bay Area first team by the Bay Area News Group in 2016. ... 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). ... 1,640 all-purpose yards and 19 TDs as a junior.

▪  Cole was already well-known by receivers coach Eric Kiesau when he was the offensive coordinator and interim head coach at Fresno State last year. Kiesau said it was easy to pick up where the relationship left off at the end of the season when he was hired in the middle of last month. The versatile Cole was among the players mentioned as a potential factor in the return game.

“An electric athlete ... some schools were recruiting him as a (defensive back),” Kiesau said. “Knew Damon for over a year, got real close with his family.”

QB Chase Cord, 6-4, 185, Sunrise Mountain High (Peoria, Ariz.): 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. ... threw 20 career interceptions. ... rushed 391 times for 2,393 yards and 38 touchdowns throughout his career.

▪  Harsin and quarterbacks coach Zak Hill were on the phone with Cord on signing day 2016 to talk to him about Boise State, and he wound up committing over offers from Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and more on Memorial Day. Baylor expressed late interest, but Hill said Cord never wavered. Harsin, who used his last home visit to see Cord on Sunday, hardly needed reassurance, but he got it when he saw that Cord had hung up every letter Boise State sent him, covering most of one wall and onto the ceiling.

“This is a high-level kid, and I think we’re going to look back and think about signing day like ‘yes, thank God we got Chase Cord,’” Hill said. “He’s got a huge upside ... He’s going to be a big kid, NFL-type body. He’s got a big arm, can throw it, make all the plays from the pocket, and the nice thing is he can get out and run.”

WR Octavius Evans, 6-3, 185, Center (Texas) High: Hauled in 254 receptions for 3,200 yards and 26 touchdowns over the course of his four-year career at Center High. ... first-team 2016 District 9-4A, Division 1 All-District honoree as a wide receiver. ... led team in receptions (66), receiving yards (852) and receiving touchdowns (six) as a senior.

▪  With some boosters and media gathered Wednesday, Harsin asked if anyone had ever been to Center. Only Max Corbet, who joined the athletic department in 1986 and was a sports information director at East Texas State said yes. Harsin’s cell phone did not have a signal in the town of about 5,000 people an hour southwest of Shreveport, La. In getting Evans, the staff did something no one else could: get his parents onto a plane. They took their first-ever flight to Evans’ official visit last weekend and took him sledding for the first time. With his size and the Broncos’ inexperience in the group, he very well could play early.

“He’s going to be a bigtime player for us ... the structure is there, the body type is there, keeping my fingers crossed, he can be a special one down the road,” Kiesau said.

OL Isiah Moore, 6-5, 285, Jr., Mesa Community College (Tiffin, Ohio): Four-star recruit, according to Scout.com and rated as the No. 21 overall junior college prospect on the Scout JC Top 100. ... started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore, garnering all-league honors each season. ... named second-team All-American as a sophomore. ... planned to attend Bowling Green in 2014, but didn’t qualify and has a redshirt available.

▪  The Broncos did not have it easy trying to get Moore, finding him early when he verbally committed in June, but had to fight off schools like West Virginia, Arizona and UCLA that offered him in the meantime. The staff is hoping for him to play tackle at Boise State, though some recruiting sites ranked him as one of the top junior college guards. Offensive line coach/co-offensive coordinator Scott Huff even flew out to Ohio to visit Moore’s mother, and while on a visit Harsin watched one of Moore’s father’s softball games in Arizona.

“Isiah might be one of the highest-recruited guys we’ve ever signed, and he made us work really hard,” Huff said.

OL John Ojukwu, 6-6, 285, Boise High: Rated as the No. 3 and 4 prospect in the state of Idaho, per Scout and 247Sports, respectively. ... Three-year starter was first-team all-conference and first-team all-state as a senior. ... lettered in wrestling and track and field. ... Added about 85 pounds after his junior season and before the start of his senior year.

▪  An early enrollee, the Broncos were impressed with the athleticism of the big guy, who also wrestled and competed in track and field at Boise High. He went from a 200-pounder to 285 between the end of his junior season and the start of his senior year. Boise State offered in June after seeing him up close at their summer camp.

“Had him in camp, he was awesome there,” Huff said. “... so far he’s done a great job with (strength coach Jeff) Pitman, think he’s got a great future. He’s going to be huge.”

QB Rathen Ricedorff, 6-1, 200, Jr., Mesa CC (Show Low, Ariz.): National Junior College Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year after leading the nation in touchdown passes (42), pass completions (282), pass attempts (434) and passing yards (3,688) last season. ... rushed 90 times for 207 yards and three scores. ... redshirted as a walk-on at Arizona State in 2014 after taking a church mission.

▪  Sometimes when a staff recruits a player, it winds up with two. When looking at film of Moore, it kept noticing his quarterback. In the backs of their minds was Ricedorff, and when Tommy Stuart told the coaches he was going to transfer at the end of the season, they moved quickly. He was offered Dec. 6 and committed five days later. Ricedorff, who recently turned 25, will come in expecting to compete with Brett Rypien, and his mobility could help him find a role.

“I ended up seeing him on film just kind of randomly, like ‘who is the quarterback?’ because I was talking with coach Huff,” Hill said. “With Rathen right off the bat, you could see he was a playmaker, see he could escape, make defense pay for covering guys ... it’s kind of what we didn’t have in the stable right now.”

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 News. ... as 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.

▪  A speedy target who coaches said could be a returner candidate, Thomas committed in November and finished with a strong final season. Fellow Lancaster receiver Omar Manning (6-2, 214) is a TCU signee and had 45 catches for 742 yards and eight touchdowns. Harsin said when he saw Lancaster play, he was impressed with how many balls went Thomas’ way, showing their trust in him as a playmaker. After receivers coach Junior Adams left Dec. 30, Kiesau wasn’t hired until three weeks later. In the interim, tight ends coach Kent Riddle and director of program development Chris Ross, a former Texas high school coach, kept up the relationship with Thomas, who had late interest from Utah.

“His competitive nature comes out in everything he does,” Kiesau said. “... he overcomes his size just with his mental makeup and how he approaches the game.”

OL Zach Troughton, 6-6, 320, Jr., Butte College (Maxwell, Calif.): Three-star prospect, according to 247Sports. ... rated the No. 14 offensive tackle coming out of junior college. ... all-region, all-conference, all-state and All-American honors.

▪  Former Boise State tight end Rob Snelling is the coach at Butte and a good friend of Huff, making it a strong bond right away. Huff called him “another monster,” saying he’ll likely play guard or center after starring at tackle at Butte, praising his football intelligence.

“Zach’s a big old dude that’s getting in shape,” Harsin said. “... certainly going to help us out this next season.”

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