It's not often that a true freshman makes a huge impact for the Boise State Broncos.
In fact, you have to head all the way back to the recruiting class of 2008 to find a player (safety George Iloka) who made any significant impact during his freshman year.
This is one of the reasons that the Broncos have been able to build such an impressive empire. They don't get the top recruits, but they utilize the redshirt, and more specifically the grey-shirt, better than any other program in college football.
Their 2011 class could easily be one of the more impressive that the Broncos coaches and staff have put together, so let's check out some of the key pieces they have coming in and what kind of impact they might be able to have for Chris Petersen's squad.
Despite the Broncos' recent penchant for pocket passers (Taylor Tharp, Kellen Moore), they too have succumbed to the trend of quarterbacks who can make plays with their legs.
Their recent recruiting (Joe Southwick and Grant Hedrick) reflects this, and in 2011, they are looking to add another dual-threat QB to the mix, Jimmy Laughrea.
Laughrea ranked No. 18 on Rivals.com's list of top dual-threat QBs and earned a 5.7 ranking overall.
During his junior season, Laughrea (6'2", 180 pounds) passed for 22 TDs and only nine interceptions, while rushing for 383 yards and six more scores.
As a senior, he again tossed 22 TDs en route to claiming Sierra Foothill League Offensive MVP honors.
The talented dual-threat trio of Southwick, Hedrick and Laughrea would make for a very interesting QB battle this offseason, as one looks to cement his status as the starter of the future by becoming Kellen Moore's primary backup.
The Broncos are famous for dipping back into the wells that they found former Broncos in, and with Worthy, they're right back where they found stud defensive lineman Ryan Winterswyk.
Worthy is a big guy (6'4", 275 pounds) and plays like one, while still maintaining an impressive sense of quickness. He's a run stuffer extraordinaire who ranks 40th on Rivals.com's list of top defensive tackles. He also ranks as California's No. 41 top prospect.
Worthy recorded 19 sacks as a junior at Whittier Christian and should definitely be a sack threat for Boise State.
The Broncos actually had to fight for Worthy, fending off offers from Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State.
But thanks to the lovely campus of Boise and the chip that Worthy has on his broad shoulders, the Broncos won him over.
If Worthy can follow in the footsteps of Winterswyk, a former walk-on, then you know the coaches will be more than happy.
The Broncos are hoping to dip back into the Texas well with Ayaji, who played high school ball about four hours away from where the Broncos staff found running back D.J. Harper, who when healthy has turned out to be a fantastic find for the team.
Ayaji had a much more decorated high school career than Harper, using his senior season to garner offers from Minnesota, New Mexico State, Wyoming and Tulane.
As a senior, Ayaji rushed for 2,219 yards and 25 touchdowns. Twice he gained 292 yards in a single game, and in his team's one loss, in the state semifinals, he ran for 193 yards and a TD.
The Broncos are graduating running backs Jeremy Avery and Jarvis Hodge, while backs Doug Martin and Harper return, along with sophomores Raphiel Lambert and Matt Kaiserman.
That makes four running backs, and with the given that one of them will inevitably go down with an injury, like happens every year, the Broncos might actually allow Ayaji to see some playing time.
Ayaji ranks as the No. 41 running back in the country according to Rivals.com.
Two current Broncos hail from Elk Grove, CA: Brandyn Thompson and Zach Waller.
Ash made three and became the first-ever player from his high school to sign with a Division I program, months before beginning his senior season.
The defensive end also fielded offers from Washington, Washington State, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon State before deciding on the Broncos.
Ash didn't post jaw-dropping numbers (53 tackles, four sacks) but made an impression on the Broncos coaching staff while attending a high school camp at BSU in which he took home defensive line MVP honors.
Ash failed to rank on Rivals.com's list of top defensive ends but did come in at No. 92 on their list of top California prospects.
Renaud is possibly the Broncos' most decorated recruit of 2011.
He ranks as the 26th best linebacking prospect according to Rivals.com and the 64th best recruit in the state of California.
He is also part of an increasing trend of players who commit to a school before their senior season even begins. Renaud made his decision in early August after making last-minute trips to both Boise and Oregon State before going with the Broncos.
Renaud leaves famous high school De La Salle with two state championships to his name, and on both teams he played a huge part in their title runs.
Renaud's goal for 2011 is simple: to earn even the slightest playing time for the Broncos. After multiple championship runs at DLSHS, no player is more prepared.
Simmons, a junior college transfer from Texas, became yet another Bronco recruit who intended on just making a visit, one of many, but then ended up declaring his decision to commit to the program right then and there.
Simmons must know what most Bronco fans know: that junior college players have a history of making a huge impact at BSU.
Winston Venable was a JUCO guy who made a huge impact these past two seasons, and he's joined the ranks of talented transfers like DE Tyrone Crawford and WR Jerard Rabb.
Simmons chose the Broncos over Colorado State, Houston, Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky.
The Broncos are pretty deep at linebacker and have some impressive young talent, so Simmons might not find himself playing too much, but he should definitely become a part of their rotation that was so effective in 2010.
Rumor has it that he could end up filling the role in the secondary that Venable made popular during his two seasons at BSU.
Tuumalo represents a renewed Bronco effort to scour the islands of Hawaii for more talent that in the past has served them quite well.
He's also a pretty darn good player who consistently ranked as one of the top 10 recruits out of the tiny islands.
He fielded offers from Colorado, Arizona, Oregon State, San Diego State and obviously Hawaii before committing to the Broncos the day after Christmas.
His commitment was impressive considering that the Buffs and Warriors had been considered the favorites to land him.
He's a pretty quick guy and would do best as an outside linebacker, and he could also be an option to fill Winston Venable's position in a few seasons.
He might be a candidate to redshirt in 2011.