Boise State football coaches detail pursuit of 2014 offensive recruits

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2014 Idaho Statesman

Today, we take a look inside the recruitment of Boise State’s offensive players in the 2014 class. On Tuesday, we’ll do the same with the defensive players.

If you missed it Friday, here are some stories from the recruiting trail.

QB Alex Ogle, 6-3, 205, Fr., Jensen Beach HS (Palm City, Fla.)
Highlights

Recruited by: Mike Sanford

The skinny:Sanford said he generated his own list of every quarterback in the country with a scholarship offer at any level and spent his free time in December watching highlight videos online. But it was important to him to have firsthand experience with his first high school quarterback recruit. He zeroed in on Brad Kaaya (signed with Miami) and K.J. Carta-Samuels (signed with Washington) because he had worked with them at Stanford camps. Both visited Boise State. Carta-Samuels chose Washington, but Kaaya — a longtime Miami commit — had not told Boise State no when Sanford made his high school choice, the coach said. Ogle had attracted the attention of new Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and former Boise State quarterback Bush Hamdan, then the quarterbacks coach at Arkansas State, when they worked for the Red Wolves. Sanford flew to Florida to check out Ogle, who was scheduled to throw a couple times a week. Sanford arrived during the workout. He had planned to visit six or seven players in five states; Florida was either the third or fourth state he hit, he said. “It was quarterback derby the last month,” Sanford said. “… As a coach, I’m always thinking the worst possible scenario. ‘I’m going to go out there and I’m not going to like him.’ I was really blown away by what I saw. I texted Harsin after about 50 throws: ‘I love Alex Ogle.’ ” Sanford is convinced Hamdan tried to keep his interest in Ogle quiet to try to avoid drawing attention to him. Hamdan was not retained by Arkansas State. “Major hats off to Bush Hamdan, a good friend of mine,” Sanford said. He offered Ogle a scholarship on the spot and Ogle accepted. Sanford knows how it sounds, but he says Ogle was his favorite high school quarterback he evaluated. One key reason: his personality. “We absolutely did not settle on Alex Ogle,” he said. “He was the guy that I wanted to find all along. He was actually, to be 100 percent honest, personality-wise, the way that he leads, the way that he kind of has this way about him and is a gym rat, he ended up being my No. 1 choice as a high school quarterback when it was all said and done. Now, the scouting services don’t necessarily agree with that and I really don’t care. I had a chance to see him with my own eyes and I trust my own evaluation, I trust my eyes. What he does here is up to him and up to me, but in terms of his physical talents and his package of size and everything he brings to this program, it’s all very positive.”

Boise State bio: Completed 151-of-271 passes for 2,338 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior, earning the team’s most valuable player honor…was also named all-area…co-captain in the Florida vs. Georgia and Treasure Coast vs. Palm Beach County All-Star Games…junior year completed 75-of-148 attempts for 983 yards and seven touchdowns…sophomore year completed 58-of-109 passes for 705 yards and five touchdowns…for his career, went 284-of-528 for 4,026 yards and 34 touchdowns…earned 2013 All-East Coast Regional Elite Team honorable mention honors…four-year member of the Honor Roll…played for head coach Tim Caffey.

OL Tennessee Su’esu’e, 6-2, 295, Fr., East HS (Salt Lake City)
Highlights

Recruited by: Scott Huff

The skinny:East High is a successful program sending eight or nine players into Division I football, Huff said. “His coach really thought we were getting a steal — and you saw it on tape,” Huff said. Su’esu’e can play center or guard but likely will begin at guard.

Boise State bio: Three-star recruit according to Scout.com and Rivals.com…one of the top 15 prospects in Utah by 247sports.com, and No. 22 overall recruit in the state by ESPN.com…rated the No. 24 center nationally by Scout.com…played only two years of high school football, seeing action along the offensive line at both guard and tackle…helped lead the Leopards to the state title game in his final prep campaign, paving the way for 5,326 yards and 66 touchdowns on the season…played for head coach Brandon Matich.

TE Chase Blakley, 6-4, 235, Fr., Coeur d’Alene HS
Highlights

Recruited by: Eliah Drinkwitz, Scott Huff

The skinny: Drinkwitz, the new tight ends coach, set his sights on Blakley immediately. He visited the Coeur d’Alene tight end at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of the contact period in January. Blakley said on Boise State’s Signing Day radio show that Drinkwitz’s visit won him over. He previously had committed to Washington when coach Steve Sarkisian was there. Former Boise State coach Chris Petersen, the new coach at Washington, didn’t offer Blakley a scholarship with the Broncos. “From what (Blakley) said, it sounded like Boise State really wanted him, Washington was like ‘OK, we’ll take you,’ ” Coeur d’Alene coach Shawn Amos said. Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said Blakley was the best player in Idaho. “When I found out we had a chance to get him, I said, ‘Let’s go all in on this guy,’ ” Sanford said.

Boise State bio: Four-star recruit and the eighth-best tight end in the country according to Rivals.com…three-star recruit, and the 15th-best tight end in the country according to Scout.com…rated the third-best tight end in the west by Scout.com…three-star recruit, and the top recruit in the state of Idaho according to 247sports.com…caught 47 passes for 762 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior in 2013…made 51 receptions for 598 yards and seven touchdowns during his junior season…career receiving marks include 99 receptions for 1,379 yards and 18 touchdowns…defensively, recorded 52 tackles (32 solo), 5.5 quarterback sacks, 13 tackles-for-loss and three fumble recoveries during his career…named Preseason High School Mr. Football for the state of Idaho by MaxPreps…helped lead team to state championship…first-team all-state on both offense and defense…played for head coach Shawn Amos.

OL Troy Bacon, 6-3, 280, Fr., Oak Hills HS (Apple Valley, Calif.)
Highlights

Recruited by: Scott Huff

The skinny: Bacon committed to the previous Boise State staff and held firm with the Broncos despite offers to visit Washington and California. “He had a lot of stuff going on,” Huff said. “At the end of the day, he felt really good with myself and coach (Bryan) Harsin and the coaches here. He really, truly meant that he fell in love with Boise on his recruiting trip and not necessarily the coaches.” Huff met Bacon on his official visit to Boise but was not involved in his recruitment until the staff changeover. Huff is now the offensive line coach. Bacon could end up at center. “He wants to be the guy who plays center and makes the calls,” Huff said. “He’s an athletic guy who is smart.” Huff watched Bacon play baseball on one of his visits. The 280-pounder plays both corner infield spots. “He has a good swing for a big guy,” Huff said.

Boise State bio: Four-year letterwinner…three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247sports.com…rated No. 46 nationally at his position by 247sports.com, and No. 61 nationally at his position by Scout.com…rated No. 81 overall in California by 247sports.com…rated one of the top 10 offensive guards on the west coast by Scout.com…named Rivals.com U.S. Army National All-Combine honorable mention…named first-team all-league, all-county, all-region and all-state following his senior season…started all 10 games as a junior team captain en route to first-team All-High Desert League, all-county and all-area honors…led the team in pancake blocks both his sophomore and junior seasons…started each of his team’s 11 games as a sophomore along the offensive line, earning second-team all-league accolades…named most valuable player along the offensive line at the 2011 Nike Combine…joined the varsity roster halfway through his freshman season…four-year member of the Honor Roll and currently has a 3.60 grade-point average…played for head coach Robert Kistner.

OL Andres Preciado, 6-6, 255, Fr., Mar Vista HS (Imperial Beach, Calif.)
Highlights

Recruited by: Scott Huff, Kent Riddle and friends

The skinny:About half the coaching staff showed up at one of Preciado’s basketball games — so he got a lot of attention. Huff and special teams coach Kent Riddle have a friend in the San Diego area who contacted them about Preciado. “He was jumping up and down about this guy,” Huff said. “He’s been a head high school coach. He’s a friend and a guy we can trust.” Huff watched Preciado play basketball twice. “He got some breakaway steals,” he said. “… We like athletic O-linemen. We can get them bigger. We can get them faster. It’s very hard to make a guy bend and move the way we want them to move.” Huff did one home visit with Preciado at 11:30 p.m., the latest one he has ever done. Preciado was leaving for a visit to Colorado State the next morning.

Boise State bio: Team captain both his junior and senior seasons at Mar Vista High School…earned first-team All-CIF…earned second-team all-league honors as a sophomore…varsity letterwinner in football, basketball and baseball…received a leadership award in basketball…named a Union Tribune Scholar-Athlete both his junior and senior seasons…named an Advance Placement Scholar in August of 2013…member of the California Scholarship Federation…Senior Class President…four-year Associated Student Body Finance Commissioner, serving as the Head Commissioner his senior year…played for head coach Tyler Arciaga.

RB Jeremy McNichols, 5-10, 190, Fr., Santa Margarita Catholic HS (Long Beach, Calif.)
Highlights

Recruited by: Kent Riddle, Marcel Yates, Junior Adams

The skinny: McNichols was committed to Utah, but defensive coordinator Marcel Yates got a call from a contact in Los Angeles suggesting the Broncos take a look. Turns out, McNichols and Yates are related in a distant way. “His grandfather is married to my second aunt, believe it or not,” Yates said. Riddle visited McNichols once a week during January recruiting. “I thought he had very natural running back instincts,” Riddle said. “I loved his build. He’s got big, thick legs. He’s explosive. He’s got breakaway speed, also.” McNichols will play running back but coaches like the flexibility he provides to be motioned out of the backfield as a receiver. Utah had recruited him as a receiver.

Boise State bio: Three-star recruit according to Scout.com and Rivals.com…earned first-team all-league, all-region and all-state honors following senior season…also received first-team all-league honors as a junior and second team all-league honors as a sophomore…as a senior, rushed 163 times for 798 yards and eight touchdowns, and hauled in 17 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns…as a junior, rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown on three attempts…caught 25 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns…as a sophomore caught 30 passes for 414 yards and five touchdowns, and rushed three times for 42 yards…career totals included 173 carries for 877 yards and nine touchdowns, and 72 receptions for 934 yards and 10 touchdowns…also recorded 34 tackles as a senior.

WR Sean Modster, 6-0, 185, Fr., Mission Viejo (Calif.) HS
Highlights

Recruited by: Kent Riddle, Junior Adams

The skinny: Modster committed to the original staff and was the longest-standing commit to sign with the Broncos. Modster’s ability to create separation from defenders is unusual in high school players, Adams said. “That was one of the first guys I reached out to in the recruiting process to make sure we could keep him on board,” Adams said.

Boise State bio: Three-star recruit according to Scout.com and Rivals.com…caught 37 passes for 783 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior en route to All-South Coast League Most Valuable Offensive Player honors…junior season had 45 receptions for 935 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning All-County Second Team honors…played for head coach Bob Johnson.

TE David Lucero, 6-5, 220, Fr., Holtville (Calif.) HS
Highlights

Recruited by: Andy Avalos, Eliah Drinkwitz

The skinny: Holtville is far from the beaten recruiting path, near the borders of Arizona, California and Mexico. Avalos found him on a tip from connections he has in the area. Lucero was one of the first prospects Avalos presented to the new staff. “The guy is what you call a diamond in the rough — an unbelievable kid and family,” Avalos said. Boise State was not Lucero’s first offer and Pac-12 schools pursued him late, Avalos said. He made weekly trips to Holtville and developed a close relationship with the family. Lucero’s mom made a blanket for Avalos’ daughter, who was born Jan. 31. “He was getting heated up pretty good toward the end,” Avalos said. “It was awesome the job coach Drinkwitz did going down there and solidifying him and making him a Bronco.” Lucero is raising a pig as part of a school project, which became a source of some laughs among the coaching staff. Harsin had his picture taken with it. The pig lives in a pen behind the school. “We were probably asking a lot of dumb questions,” Avalos said. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford compared Lucero to former Stanford star Coby Fleener.

Boise State bio: Three-star recruit according to both Scout.com and 247sports.com…rated No. 27 nationally at his position by 247sports.com…rated No. 57 overall in California by 247sports.com…named San Diego Section All-Manzanita League First Team on both offense and defense as a junior and a senior…caught 38 passes for 819 yards and 12 touchdowns in his final prep season…also recorded 52 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered another last season…junior year caught 40 passes for 636 yards and five touchdowns…also had 33 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries…sophomore season was named second-team all-league on offense after catching 22 passes for 422 yards and four touchdowns…played for head coach Keith Smith, Jr.

RB Cory Young, 5-10, 180, Fr., Norco HS (Norco, Calif.)
Highlights

Recruited by: Kent Riddle, Andy Avalos

The skinny: Young visited Boise and was offered a scholarship last season. Avalos kept in contact with him during the coaching transition and Riddle pursued him as soon as he arrived at Boise State. “He didn’t need much of a hole to take it the distance,” Riddle said. “Those guys are valuable. … He loved Boise from the start from when he visited. He just wanted to get comfortable with the coaching staff.” Avalos, who will recruit the Inland Empire area of Southern California for the new staff, attended Young’s rival high school. His wife attended Young’s school.

Boise State bio: Three-star recruit according to Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com…named first-team All-CIF Southern Section Inland Division and first-team all-league as a senior…was also named Norco High School’s Most Valuable Player…in 2013 rushed the ball 324 times for 2,450 yards and 22 touchdowns…was the 12th-leading rusher in California…averaged 7.56 yards per carry…top rushing game was against Corona Centennial High School for 421 yards, a mark surpassed in the school’s history by only Toby Gerhart of Stanford…as a junior in 2012 rushed 79 times for 595 yards and nine touchdowns…as a sophomore in 2011 had 28 rushing attempts for 214 yards and one touchdown…career rushing totals included 431 attempts for 3,259 yards and 32 touchdowns…named to the Honor Roll, and currently boasts a grade-point average of 3.8…brother Kelsey plays at Stanford.

OL Jerhen Ertel, 6-5, 258, R-Jr., Glendale (Ariz.) C.C. (Bagdad, Ariz.)
Highlights

Recruited by: Scott Huff

The skinny:Ertel wears size-18 shoes — Huff called them skis — and played eight-man football in high school. He is expected to compete for a starting spot this spring. Huff has longtime contacts at Glendale, which also sent former nickel Winston Venable to the Broncos. “We trust those guys,” Huff said. “We really had a need.” Ertel has the combination of athleticism and intelligence that should help him make the transition to major college football, Huff said. He’s expected to play tackle but could play inside. “The biggest question for us is where do we plug him in to give him the best chance to compete,” Huff said.

Boise State bio: Redshirted in 2011, and then started every game along the offensive line for the Glendale Gauchos in both 2012 and 2013…primarily played at left tackle, but also started at guard…played for head coach Mickey Bell…Played tight end, offensive line and defensive end at Bagdad High School, which competed in eight-man football…played for head coach Daniel Corbin.

WR A.J. Richardson, 6-1, 182, Fr., Narbonne HS (Lomita, Calif.)
Highlights

Recruited by: Former staff

The skinny:Richardson announced on National Signing Day in 2013 that he had committed to Boise State but he never signed a letter of intent because of academic issues. He grayshirted to recover from a knee injury. “He’s a big, physical kid,” wide receivers coach Junior Adams said. He said he wondered why people weren’t tackling Richardson during high school games. “When you see him, you see why guys aren’t tackling him,” he said. “He’s thick.”

Boise State bio: Graduated from Narbonne High School in 2013, and delayed enrollment to Boise State until spring of 2014…named a Semper Fidelis All-American following his senior season…also named All-Marine League, all-city section and all-state…rated as a three-star prospect coming out of high school according to both Scout.com and Rivals.com…rated No. 50 at his position by Scout.com and No. 84 by Rivals.com…ranked as one of the top 10 receivers in the West by Scout.com…helped lead the Gauchos to back-to-back CIF Los Angeles City Section Division I Championships in both 2011 and 2012…caught 60 passes for 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior…also rushed 22 times for 121 yards and four touchdowns…caught 63 passes for 947 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior…also rushed 21 times for 355 yards and a score…helped lead the Gauchos to the City Section title…sophomore year caught 60 passes for 700 yards and seven touchdowns…played for head coach Emanuel Douglas.

QB Tommy Stuart, 6-0, 190, So., Butte College (Baltimore)
Highlights

Recruited by: Mike Sanford

The skinny:When Sanford arrived Jan. 6, the Nick Patti transfer already was in motion. That left senior Grant Hedrick and injured redshirt freshman Ryan Finley as the only scholarship quarterbacks. “It was a scary movie just in terms of depth,” Sanford said. He set out to add a junior college quarterback who could provide depth in the spring, push Hedrick and fill one of the vacated classes. Sanford wants to recruit a scholarship quarterback every year, so it was important to spread the scholarships around. “Filling that need with Tommy was critical,” Sanford said. “You want to have somebody who is a proven winner and you want to have somebody you have familiarity with.” Checking the first box with Stuart was easy. The second was more difficult. “I haven’t recruited JC anything at Stanford,” Sanford said. He relied on former Boise State player Robby Snelling, who is the Butte offensive coordinator. “He vouched for his character,” Sanford said.

Boise State bio: Named Nor-Cal Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and first-team all-league at quarterback for Butte…led Butte to the California Junior College State Championship, earning MVP honors in the title game…Roadrunners were also named co-National Champions…completed 132-of-204 passes for 1,927 yards and 29 touchdowns…threw just three interceptions…completion percentage of .647 led the league…Led Calvert Hall College High School to a record of 21-3 during his prep career…as a junior, led squad to the first state title in school history, and the first conference title in 30 years…named first-team all-state private school, and second-team all-state consensus (Associated Press)…also garnered first-team all-metro honors…racked up 2,500 total yards and 26 touchdowns…senior year racked up more than 3,500 total yards and 40 touchdowns…once again named first-team all-state private school…also named first-team AP All-State Consensus and first-team all-metro…team finished the season ranked No. 3 in the state…named Crab Bowl Most Valuable Player, Maryland’s All-Star Game.


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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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