WAC Football Recruiting Report: Conference's Top Impact Recruits

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WAC Football Recruiting Report: Conference's Top Impact Recruits
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With the holidays wrapping up, coaches and staff in the Western Athletic Conference will try to do some last-minute recruiting before players sign letters of intent in February.

Unfortunately for the WAC, they remain second to last among FBS schools in recruiting, in front of only the Sun Belt Conference.

They've landed 93 players combined, 68 of those being high school commits along with 25 junior college transfers.

There are teams that have filled their needs on both sides of the ball and some that still have work to do.

From San Jose State to Boise State, from Nevada to Fresno State, here are the biggest impact recruits that each team has signed.

 

San Jose State Spartans : 2 verbal commits (T-118th in the country, last in the WAC)

Bringing up the rear in the WAC, though no surprise to most, is the San Jose State Spartans.

They've landed just two verbal commits during this recruiting season, both from the high school level and both on the offensive side of the ball.

  • RB - Derek Muaava 6'1" 215 lbs (Independence HS - San Jose, CA)

Despite missing his entire senior season, after undergoing knee surgery, Muaava was told that the offer from the Spartans would stand and he committed to them back in September.

“I was so excited when I heard that San Jose State still wanted me to play there,” Muaava told Don Hoekwater of Scout.com . “It’s definitely frustrating to miss my senior year, but now I have to worry about the bigger picture and get ready to play college ball.”

Even his high school coach, an SJSU alum in his own right, Norm Brown had high compliments of his running back.

"Derek is an outstanding player, probably the best prospect to come out of here since Andre Riley," Brown told Scout.com . "I'd say he looks to be the next Johnny Johnson, who I played with in college and was my roommate."

 

New Mexico State Aggies : 10 verbal commits (100th in the country, 8th in the WAC)

After finishing dead last in the conference in 2009 (1-7, 3-10), the Aggies have had a pretty good recruiting period thus far. They've landed 10 verbal commits, five from the high school level and five junior college transfers.

There are two inparticular that stand out and make definite improvements to their team for next season.

  • QB - Matt Christian 6'3" 220 lbs (Palomar Junior College - San Marcos, CA)

Christian was 104 of 178 passes for 1,331 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in his very first season as a starter for Palomar in 2008. 

It's possible that Christian could be an immediate starter in 2010, especially after starter Jeff Fleming threw just four touchdowns to 12 interceptions in 2009.

  • MLB - Dylan Davis 6'0" 210 lbs (St. Bonaventure HS - Ventura, CA)

Leading one of the top high school programs in the West as their middle linebacker, Davis is finally getting attention but he says getting New Mexico State's offer came as a surprise to him.

“Oh yeah it was definitely something I’ve been waiting for,” Davis told Scout.com's Brandon Huffman . “I didn’t really know anything about New Mexico State, they hadn’t talked to me, so I was kind of surprised when they just offered me.”

He also received offers from WAC schools Fresno State and Idaho, as well as Colorado, Colorado State and San Diego State.

 

Utah State Aggies : 18 verbal commits (T-95th in the country, T-7th in the WAC)

The Aggies are tied with Hawaii with the same number of verbal commits (18) so far during this recruiting period. They've landed 12 high school recruits and six junior college transfers, four of which have already signed letters of intent.

The Aggies needed serious help on defense after finishing dead last in the WAC, giving up 455.1 yards per game. They may have gotten some help with that this recruiting period, signing three cornerbacks all from the junior college level.

  • CB - Alfred Bowden 5'11" 180 lbs (Phoenix College - Phoenix, AZ)

Bowden led the league with five interceptions last season and was named 1st team all-WSFL and 1st team all-ACCAC in 2009.

He will bring much needed speed and defensive ability to an Aggies team that gave up 249.6 passing yards per game and 28 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions.

  • TE - Jason Fanaika 6'4" 240 lbs (Pleasant Grove HS - Pleasant Grove, UT)

The Aggies were more than thrilled to land the in-state tight end, especially since Utah State only got 58 yards receiving and one touchdown from the tight end position in 2009. The Aggies definitely need a pass catching presence from that position.

 

Nevada Wolfpack : 6 verbal commits (T-95th in the country, T-7th in the WAC)

Though the Wolfpack finished 7-1 in conference play, they had a disappointing end to their season after a 45-10 drubbing at the hands of SMU in the Hawaii Bowl. To add insult to injury, it was SMU's first bowl game in 25 years.

Head coach Chris Ault has landed six verbal commits, four on the defensive side, including three junior college transfers who have all signed letters of intent to play for the Wolfpack in 2010.

  • WR - Lemar Durant 6'2" 203 lbs (Centennial Secondary - Coquitlam, B.C.)

A big wide receiver who can play on both sides of the ball. In fact, Nevada's defensive coordinator wanted him, but Heach Coach Chris Ault decided he wanted him as a wide receiver.

Though the Wolfpack led the nation, and the WAC, in rushing (362.3 ypg) their passing attack was second to last in the conference (159.3 ypg). Obtaining just 10 of the team's 21 passing touchdowns from the wide receiver position.

Bringing in someone like Durant gives them a second threat next to Brandon Wimberly (6'3" 195 lbs) who led the team with 733 yards receiving and six touchdowns.

The Wolfpack had the best rush defense in the WAC in 2009, giving up just 114.7 yards per game. What they lacked, was a passing defense which was the worst in the conference, giving up 284.3 yards per game.

Safety Chris Boudreaux could be a definite improvement for Nevada. The 6'0" 197 lbs junior college transfer from Palomar uses his 4.5 40 speed to get to any ball in the air, as he told Scott Eklund of JCFootball.com .

"I can play anywhere, but I love playing free safety," Boudreaux told Eklund . "I can see the field and make a play on the ball when it's in the air. With my speed and my instincts, I feel I can get it down anywhere."

 

Idaho Vandals : 11 verbal commits (93rd in the country, 5th in the WAC)

The Idaho Vandals seemed to be the surprise of the WAC in the first few weeks of the season, winning six of their first seven, including a streak of five straight.

Unfortunately, that came crashing down around them as they closed out the regular season losing four of their next five and giving up 50 or more points in three of those games.

Where Idaho needs the biggest improvement is protection of quarterback Nathan Enderle. Through 11 games, Enderle was sacked 20 times, fifth highest in the conference.

  • C - Sam Tupua 6'3" 315 lbs (Palomar JC - San Marcos, CA)

Tupua was the leader for one of the best offensive lines in the country, leading the Palomar Comets to the state semi-finals. An offense that averaged 420 yards per game and 31.9 points per game.

Leadership like that is exactly what Idaho was looking for and Tupua said he was excited to join the Vandals in 2010.

"Idaho was the school that showed me they wanted me the most," Tupua told Scott Eklund of JCFootball.com . "I've been talking to them all year and about two weeks ago I took a visit there and just knew it was the place for me."

"Their top lineman, Mike Iupati, is graduating, so there is time available up there and they said they really like me at center because of how smart I am and how I play."

 

The Vandals finished the 2009 season with one of the worst passing defenses in the country, giving up 268.9 yards per game and the second highest passing touchdown total (30).

The team needed to find someone that could cover a lot of ground in the defensive backfield and they may have found their man in Ellsworth JC transfer Thaad Thompson.

The 6'2" 210 lbs safety was clocked at 4.39 in the 40-yard, the kind of speed that this team needs to cover receivers and help out on the deep balls.

 

Boise State Broncos : 6 verbal commits (86th in the country, 4th in the WAC)

The conference champion Broncos have less work to do than most teams in the conference, only losing five seniors from the undefeated team in 2009.

But, that being said, the Bronocs still went out and landed six verbal commits, five of which were from the high school level.

On offense, the Broncos scored 80 touchdowns and even that number was split right down the middle (40 rushing, 40 passing).

On defense, they led the conference with 22 interceptions, three of those were taken back for touchdowns.

  • QB - Grant Hedrick 6'1" 180 lbs (Central HS - Independence, OR)

If there is a name to remember in the future, it will absolutely be this 6'1" 180 lbs quarterback from Independence, OR.

Grant Hedrick finished his senior season , falling just short of the state championship game, with an astounding 2,500 yards passing, 34 touchdowns, and even more incredible than that, he threw just one interception.

Though the Broncos are in good hands with quarterback Kellen Moore, Hedrick will no doubt be taking over the reins after Moore's days at Boise State are through.

  • DE - Tyrone Crawford 6'4" 258 lbs (Bakersfield College - Bakersfield, CA)

Not that Boise State needs any help on the defensive side of the ball, especially after giving up 17.7 points per game last season. But adding a big and fast defensive end sure won't hurt things at all.

Bakersfield College defensive end Tyrone Crawford signed his letter of intent to play at Boise State and he is excited to don the blue and orange.

Bringing in a guy like Crawford and adding him to an already dominant rushing defense only makes this Boise State team that much better.

 

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs : 12 verbal commits (83rd in the country, 3rd in the WAC)

Defensively, this Louisiana Tech team seems to get better although their 4-8 record this past season seems to dictate otherwise.

What plagued this team last season was their offensive line who gave up 27 sacks last season, second highest in the conference behind Utah State (31). It was one of the biggest reasons for their third worst passing average (188.1 ypg) in the conference.

  • OT - Ryan Zeller 6'4" 280 lbs (St. Michael HS - Baton Rouge, LA)

Offensive lineman Ryan Zeller could make an immediate impact on Louisiana Tech's offensive line, committing to the Bulldogs this past October.

"I liked the way the offensive line played, they were real physical," Zeller told Jason Jones . "I felt like I would fit in well."

"I really like Tech, it's going in the right direction. Coach Derek Dooley is a great Coach. Im excited."

  • DE - Josh Tillman 6'5" 255 lbs (Copiah-Lincoln JC - Wesson, MS)

Tech landed a recruit that could have easily headed to Ole Miss, especially since Tillman's cousin, Marcus Tillman, is a senior there. But, after learning that the Rebels already had a junior college transfer in front of him, Tillman moved on and decided to commit to the Bulldogs.

"They had another junior college player ahead of me," Josh told Jason Jones . "I don't want to be anyone's second option."

"I decided to get it over with. Recruiting can be stressful. I want to be where I'm wanted and I'm excited to play for Louisiana Tech." 

Tillman is a huge signing for Louisiana Tech, especially since they will have just two defensive tackles and three defensive ends with significant experience returning for next season.

 

Hawaii Warriors : 17 verbal commits (79th in the country, 2nd in the WAC)

The post-June Jones era hasn't been kind to the Hawaii Warriors. After winning their first two games of the season, the Warriors dropped their next six games, effectively ending any hopes of a postseason bowl game.

Where the Warriors need the most help is on their running game, where they averaged just 4.5 yards per carry and 100.5 yards per game. Not only that, but the offensive line had given up 36 sacks this past season.

  • OG - London Sopolu 6'1" 295 lbs (Orange Coast College - Costa Mesa, CA)

The son of two time Pro Bowler and four time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, Jesse Sopolu, London Sopolu decided to continue the family legacy and committed to Hawaii.

Sopolu originally played on the defensive side of the ball, but his coaches at OCC decided to move him to the offensive side of the ball and he says he's gotten comfortable there.

"They said I was a better fit on this side and I feel real comfortable there now," Sapolu told Scott Eklund of JCFootball.com . "I'm rotating right now at guard and center and there is where Hawaii likes me too.

The Warriors need a tailback that's going to give them a definite running attack. The team's leading rushers, Leon Wright-Jackson and Alex Green, were both averaging less than seven carries per game.

Bringing in someone like Anguay gives them a running back with 4.53 speed gives them the ability to not count on their passing game as much as they did in 2009.

 

Fresno State : 11 verbal commits (77th in the country, 1st in the WAC)

The Bulldogs will come into the 2010 season having already given head coach Pat Hill a contract extension, but they will also be coming off a disappointing end to their season after a 35-28 loss to Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.

They will be without All-American running back Ryan Mathews who decided to forego his senior season and declare for the NFL draft and the next chapter of his football career.

Dillihunt is one of those players that put a feather in Pat Hill's cap after Dillihunt decided against going to Washington State and instead committed to Fresno State.

He has the ability to play on both sides of the ball and told Scout.com that Hill was going to give him a shot on both sides during spring drills to find out where he fit in.

He has the speed to score on offense and the speed and ability to land hard hits on defense to give Hill and the Bulldog coaching staff the win win situation wherever they decided to play him.

  • WR - Victor Dean 6'6" 200 lbs (Lincoln Senior HS - San Diego, CA)

Possibly the most talented recruit that Fresno State has landed during this recruiting period. The 6'6" 200 pound wide receiver and two-sport star could become a favorite target of either quarterbacks Ryan Colburn or Derek Carr, whoever wins the job out of spring.

The Bulldogs have a few playmakers already, but having a wide receiver that can go get the ball or out jump a 5'10" cornerback is something that will give the Bulldogs an even bigger threat.

Not only could he be a starter his freshman year, but Dean also wants to walk on to the basketball team at Fresno State. Current Head Coach Steve Cleveland might be all too happy to have him aboard.

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