Bronco Beat

Boise State football grabs Pac-12 recruit late as part of 19-member early signing class

The Boise State football team signed all 17 of its known committed recruits Wednesday on the first day of the new early signing period in college football.

Two new names came through in the afternoon, including former Oregon State commit Cameron Thomas, adding to the Broncos’ haul at wide receiver. Boise State added five new wide receivers set to join the team this summer.


▪ WR Billy Bowens, 6-1, 175, Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High: As a senior in 2017, in 10 games had 41 receptions for 896 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished with 1,255 all-purpose yards and had one touchdown on a punt return, another on a kick return.

“He comes from a track family, can really push the envelope,” wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau said. “We needed the speed. He played cornerback, played a little quarterback. He’s very versatile in what he can do.”

▪ WR Stefan Cobbs, 6-0, 170, Fossil Ridge High (Keller, Texas): He was the Texas 3-6A All-District Most Valuable Player after a senior season in which he had 67 catches for 1,332 yards and 24 touchdowns. As a junior, he played in only one game because of a knee injury.

“Unbelievable player ... he’s in a great league,” Kiesau said. “I was very lucky and fortunate, got on him early, and just kind of built that relationship with him, to see him flourish. He’s got such a wide range, a playmaker, a faster A.J. (Richardson) — he’s got great hands.”

Wide receiver Stefan Cobbs (5) makes a 40 yard reception against Flower Mound corner back Coby Kelley September. Steve Nurenberg Special to the Star-Telegram

▪ OL Garrett Curran, 6-5, 288, Granite Hills High (El Cajon, Calif.): First-team All-San Diego Section honors in 2017, helped team to CIF San Diego Section Div. 2 semifinals. Also played baseball and wrestled. Had a Washington State offer.

“Big, strong, physical guy,” offensive line coach Brad Bedell said. “He’s a team captain, won a lot of games, and he’s a wrestler at that size, which is always a plus.”

▪ DE/LB Kukea Emmsley, 6-5, 230, Kapolei (Hawaii) High: Held an Oregon offer before choosing the Broncos. His uncle, Loa, played for the Broncos in the early 2000s. Emmsley was an honorable mention All-OIA Division I Red Conference selection following his junior and senior seasons.

“He’ll be an edge player ... love his flexibility, his athleticism and his length,” defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said.

▪ NT Keeghan Freeborn, 6-1, 300, Rocky Mountain High: He was a first-team 5A All-Idaho selection on the offensive line as a junior and senior and a 5A All-Southern Idaho Conference selection as an offensive lineman his senior year.

“He grew up ... wanting to play on the Blue, and I think that always means something extra,” defensive line coach Steve Caldwell said. “His mentality, the way he plays the game and what he wants out of it is exactly what we look for here.”

▪ C Kekaniokoa Gonzalez, 6-2, 291, Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.): No. 2-ranked center in California according to, named All-Trinity League for the national No. 1 Monarchs, who won the CIF state title. He’ll compete in the 2018 Polynesian Bowl.

“He’s a big dude, he can get some good leverage,” Bedell said. “His dad played at UNLV, he’s a coach, and we’re really happy to get a guy that was a leader on maybe the best team in the nation.”

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Rocky Mountain's Keeghan Freeborn lines up against Highland in the 5A state football semifinals in November. Joe Jaszewski

▪ LB Brandon Hawkins, 6-3, 210, Georgetown (Texas) High: He was rated as one of the top 50 at his position by ESPN. He was a unanimous selection to the Texas All-District 19-5A first team as a senior, when he had 105 tackles, including 12 for losses and four sacks.

“B-Hawk is extremely versatile. ... He’s played inside the box and has tremendous skill, but we see him as an outside linebacker, can read and react, cause some havoc off the edge,” Avalos said.

▪ WR John Hightower, 6-3, 175, Hinds CC (Landover, Md.): He played offense and defense in high school. As a sophomore, he caught 13 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran track while at Hinds.

“He’s a tall guy, can really run,” Kiesau said. “Cedrick Wilson’s coach at Coffeyville (Community College) is (Hightower’s) coach at Hinds. ... We wanted a little more length in the room, which I think is what we got.”

▪ NT Scale Igiehon, 6-3, 334, Del Valle (Texas) High: A three-star recruit (ESPN, 247sports, Rivals), was named first-team Texas All-District 14-6A as a junior. His mother played college basketball.

“He’s athletic for a big guy, so we’re looking forward to it,” Caldwell said. “He came here this summer and he loved the place and he committed to us and he hasn’t wavered one bit. He’s excited about being here. He comes from an athletic family.”

▪ CB Tyric LeBeauf, 6-2, 178, Long Beach (Calif.) Polytechnic High: As a senior, collected 47 tackles (32 solo) through 11 games, with four interceptions and one tackle for loss. Was a teammate of current Boise State safety DeAndre Pierce.

“Tyric gives you length out there, something we need. He’s a dog out there on the field ... he’s a really good football player, comes from a great program,” cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose said. “He’s a guy that’ll fight to find playing time.”

▪ LB Phillip Mills, 6-3, 224, Paloma Valley High (Menifee, Calif.): The first commitment in the class, he was a three-time all-league honoree, collecting 91 tackles (55 solo) with 14 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, one interception and three fumble recoveries through 12 games as a senior.

“His high school, they got a new coach, who has implemented a defense similar to ours,” Avalos said. “He was able to do a lot of really good things this year in terms of things he’ll do here ... tremendous amount of sacks, caused turnovers, love that stuff.”

▪ DB Chris Mitchell, 6-1, 190, Mission Viejo (Calif.) High: After picking up a Notre Dame offer last summer, had 50 tackles (35 solo) as a senior, with one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Also rushed for 284 yards on 47 carries for five touchdowns.

“He’s got great size, played some safety in high school, he can run and he can be physical,” Ambrose said. “We can’t get enough kids like him. He wanted to be a Bronco.”

▪ TE Cole Ramseyer, 6-4, 216, Coeur d’Alene High: As a senior, caught 43 passes for 602 yards and five touchdowns, and on defense recorded 49 tackles, including two sacks, and recovered three fumbles. Helped Vikings to the 5A state championship game.

“His athleticism (stands out). He’s fast, he can change direction, runs great routes,” tight ends coach Kent Riddle said. “He has great hands, can go up and attack the ball. I think he’s a big-play guy.”

▪ LB DJ Schramm, 6-2, 224, Clovis West High (Fresno, Calif.): He’s considered the 10th-best linebacker in California, according to 247sports. In 2017, he had one interception, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and two sacks with one touchdown.

“He’s got an extremely high football IQ, he’s the son of a coach, you turn on his film and (you see) he’s extremely, extremely physical,” Avalos said. “One of the things we love about his film, more than anybody’s, you see him getting to that ball. He causes a ton of turnovers.”

Clovis quarterback Trey Lake, left, loses the ball as he is rushed by Boise State recruit DJ Schramm in 2016. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA

▪ WR Khalil Shakir, 6-0, 180, Vista Murrieta (Calif.) High: Ranked as a four-star prospect this summer by 247Sports, he had 102 carries for 906 yards and seven touchdowns, along with 17 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Also will play in the Polynesian Bowl.

“Khalil is an electric player, had a lot of offers, he has that electric personality, too,” Hill said. “He’ll fit our group of guys really well and bring a lot of energy to the field. He’s a player that can play multiple positions ... that versatile type player that we’re really excited about.”

▪ RB Danny Smith, 6-0, 210, Oxnard (Calif.) High: In 2017, he rushed for 1,610 yards on 176 carries with 20 touchdowns, averaging 178.9 yards per game and 9.1 yards per carry. He also caught nine passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. He was a late commit after the Broncos lost a committed running back — but running backs coach Lee Marks had been recruiting him since spring.

“We were very fortunate that he was still available when we had the opportunity.”

▪ WR Cameron Thomas, 6-4, 205, Westwood High (Austin, Texas): He decommitted from Oregon State and signed with the Broncos. As a senior, caught 80 passes for 1,346 yards and 19 TDs. Also returned seven kickoffs for a 28.7-yard average, including one for a touchdown.

▪ RB Andrew VanBuren, 6-1, 215, Chaminade Prep (West Hills, Calif.): He’s a three-star recruit, according to ESPN, 247sports and Rivals. As a senior, he rushed for 1,259 yards on 224 carries and 21 touchdowns.

“He’s my guy,” Marks said. “He was the first offer that I threw out there for the running backs and even in my area. He knew how special he was to me and how special he would be to this program and I think that meant a lot to him.”

▪ STUD Demitri Washington, 6-5, 245, Santa Fe Christian High (Solana Beach, Calif.): This dual threat played five games as a senior before being injured, recording 45 tackles (29 solo) and seven tackles for loss. He rushed for 243 yards on 32 carries for four TDs.

“Demitri’s one of those outside guys I think that’s gonna fit in like Jabril (Frazier) and Curtis (Weaver) have and be able to do some exciting things on the edge,” Caldwell said.

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Chaminade’s Andrew VanBuren keeps a Bosco defender at bay on Sept. 8, 2017. Scott Varley Press-Telegram
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