In the four years that we've been running this site (on various networks), never has a class come in so big and with so many high school prospects. The class of 31 who signed with Idaho last Wednesday and Thursday was huge, in and of itself. But bringing in 29 high school prospects, of the caliber of prospect that they are, was remarkable.
Every position and identified depth issue on the team was addressed. We knew going in, based on coaches statements in the media, that both sides of the line of scrimmage would be a primary target, and new Vandal Head Coach Nick Holt and his aggressive staff did not disappoint. Eleven prospects hailing from 4 states were signed in the trenches, with particular emphasis on the defensive line.
Among the specialists, no position was short-changed. The class includes 2 tightends, 3 wide receivers, 3 runningbacks, a quarterback, 3 linebackers, and 8 defensive backs. The neat thing about this class is that although they've been classified into certain positions, none of the recruits are "speed challenged" to the point that they couldn't play another position if needed. Players classified as DBs have been accomplished runningbacks or wide receivers in high school as well, several of whom earned All State honors on BOTH sides of the ball.
5-7, 165, WR/DB
Its an interesting class that we look forward to chronicling in the months and years ahead. In all, the states represented by this group include Idaho (3), California (12), Washington (7), Oregon (3), Colorado (1), Georgia, (1), New Jersey (1), Louisiana (1) and Alberta, Canada (1).
We've prepared our own recruiting roster, which is broken down into offensive and defensive units (accessible from the left hand margin), which has also been updated at the link below:
2004 Vandal Football Recruits
For a loook at earlier articles spotlighting the 18 players who gave verbal commitments to Idaho BEFORE LOI, click the link provided below:
Vandal Verbal Commitment List Swells To 18
This article focuses on the 13 NEW prospects who signed with Idaho last Wednesday and Thursday, and below is a little research we did on the Vandals we first learned about last week. Enjoy the article, come onto our message board to ask questions or make comments (the LINK is on the upper right hand corner of this page), and don't forget to make plans to come to Moscow to see the team during the annual Silver and Gold game on Friday, April 30th (7pm).
Don't forget, if you plan to attend the Spring Game, also make plans to meet Coach Holt and his staff on Saturday morning over a round of golf at the Nick Holt Golf Tournament (we'll post links to sign-up as soon as they're available).
Jason Towlen / Home News Tribune
6-4, 190 Pounds
New Brunswick, NJ
School: New Brunswick High School
2nd Team, All-Area, DB
All-Greater Middlesex Conf., Blue Div., DB
2nd Team, All-GMC, DB
Idaho signed several players from east of the Mississippi, and one of them happens to be Desmond Belton, an outstanding receiver prospect from New Jersey. One of the areas Coach Holt and his staff was targeting with this recruiting class was bringing in young playmakers at the wide-outs, and they found a good one in Desmond.
Desmond's stats offensively may have been overshadowed a bit by his defensive prowess (he was a starter at both safety and wide receiver). He also just happened to play alongside one of the top wide receiver prospects in the country, Dwayne Jarrett, who signed with USC on Wednesday (Coach Holt's USC ties seem likely to have tipped the staff off about Desmond). Statistically, Desmond led area highschools with 6 interceptions, while offensively he hauled in 20 passes. Although the number of receptions are not eye-popping, the fact that he AVERAGED 23 yards per reception is definitely something to take notice.
At 6-4 (and one of the leader's on his basketball team), he's a big target offensively with enough speed to be one of the best DBs in his New Jersey conference. In addition, with 6 of his 20 receptions going for TDs last year, he may be the difference-maker Coach Holt is hoping he can become in Moscow.
6-4, 210 Pounds
School: Crook County High School (Cowboys)
Honorable Mention, All-State Class 4A, TE (2003)
Honorable Mention, All-State, 4A, DE (2003)
1st Team, All-Intermountain Convference, TE (2003)
1st Team, All-Intermountain Convference, DE (2003)
Depending on how a pair of starters recover who were lost during the first game of last season (Luke Smith-Anderson and Keith Greer), Idaho's needs at TE could be epic going into 2004. Enter Oregon high school product Peter Bjorvik.
The 6-4 senior earned All-State honors on both sides of the ball in 2003, and also earned 1st Team All-Conference honors offensively and defensively. Peter rarely came off he field, and he ended the year the team's leading receiver. Offensively, Bjorvik's best game of the season came in a loss against eventual IMC champion Bend when he had seven catches for 94 yards. He also hauled in five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Pendleton.
Whether Peter will see playing time next year as a true freshman remains to be seen, but this 3 sport star (currently averaging a team-best 14.1 points per game for his basketball team) will probably get his shot. If not next year, then certainly shortly afterwards.
LINK: Bjorvik chooses the Vandals (Central Oregonian)
6-0, 205 Pounds
School: Archbishop Murphy High School
Class 1A State Player of the Year (2003)
1st Team AP All-State, Class 1A, DB (2003)
1st Team AP All-State, Class 1A, RB(2003)
1st Team Northwest League, DB (2003)
1st Team Northwest League, RB (2003)
1st Team AP All-State, Class 1A, DB (2002)
1st Team AP All-State, Class 1A, RB(2002)
1st Team Northwest League, DB (2002)
1st Team Northwest League, RB (2002)
Before we get too far into discussing Jevon Butler, there are a couple milestones that he set for the state of Washington that should be mentioned. Specifically, his football team won the state championship the last 2 consecutive years. In those games, Jevon has set the following all-time marks:
Most Yards Rushing (227)
Longest Run from scrimmage (84)
Longest TD run (84)
Longest kick-off return (68)
Yes, his offensive numbers are impressive, but its dropping the hammer on players from his DB post that gets him charged up the most, and is one of the main reasons he chose Idaho over Hawaii and others. "I love hitting," Butler told The Daily Herald (Everett, WA), days before he was set to sign a letter of intent on Wednesday, the first day of the college football signing period. "I like hitting people more than taking the hits."
OK, one more offensive stat. Jevon carried the ball over 400 times in the last 2 years. He's never fumbled once.
A measure of his toughness? How 'bout this from MSNBC: "Fullback Jevon Butler, wearer of the largest bull's-eye, rushed for 199 yards on 25 carries despite breaking a finger during the game."
He's a 2-time 1st Team selection at DB and RB. He's been clocked in a 4.52 - 40. His highschool team went 26-0 the last 2 years. We could go on and on, but the bottom line is that Idaho got a heckuva prospect in Jevon.
LINK: Butler chooses the Vandals (The Daily Herald)
Moreno Valley, CA
School: Rancho Verde High School
2nd Team All-CIF, OL (2003)
&nb 1st Team All-Southwestern Conference, OL (2003)
1st Team All-Southwestern Conference, OL (2002)
1st Team All-Southwestern Conference, OL (2001)
As Coach Holt has said, the game of football ultimately is won or lost on the line of scrimmage. He has made the offensive and defensive line a priority this recruiting season, and in doing so recruited a solid offensive line prospect in Desmond Clark.
At 6-3, 300 pounds Desmond is a big prospect. And he's an athlete that has steadily improved each season. He went from honorable mentions All Conference honors as a sophomore, 1st Team All Conference honors as a senior, as well as prestigious All CIF honors (2nd).
An impressive all-around athlete, he won the Shot Put event in the Southwestern Conference Championships in 2003 with a throw of 53 feet, 4 inches, and is the Conference record holder in the event.
Desmond is one of 3 offensive line prospects signed to Idaho out of southern California, all of whom are an athletic, versatile bunch.
6-3, 190 Pounds
Walla Walla, WA
School: DeSales High School
Player of the Year, Class B-11 (2003)
Washington State's No. 2 All-Time Passer (10,147 yds)
1st Team AP All-State, Class B-11, QB (2003)
1st Team All Southeast Conference, QB (2003)
1st Team AP All-State, Class B-11, QB (2002)
1st Team All-Southeast Conference, QB (2002)
Idaho quarterback recruit T.J. Conley had an impressive career at DeSales High School, a Catholic school in Walla Walla, WA. This is the same high school that Idaho QB Brian Lindgren attended, and the parallels between the 2 are uncanny. Both Brian and T.J. are No.1 and No. 2 all-time in the Washington High School record books for passing yards in a career, and both are the ONLY Washington preps to pass for over 10,000 yards in a career. Both took their team's to the state championship before signing with Idaho.
T.J. has been a starter at DeSales since he was a freshman, taking over a year after Lindgren came to Idaho. Conley became the second Washington quarterback to throw for 10,000 yards in his career during the Irish's state semifinal win over Wahkiakum. However, he broke his leg in the first quarter of the state final against Reardan, and the team was unable to complete the Championship run without him.
For 2003 he ended the year with 35 touchdowns on 186 of 307 passing for 3,011 yards. He ended up throwing an impressive 125 touchdowns for his career.
T.J. is the only QB in this class, and will be joining a unit that includes junior Michael Harrington, and new QB coach Jonathan Smith.
6-2, 260 Pounds
Long Beach, CA
School: Long Beach Poly High School (Jackrabbits)
2nd Team, All-CIF Southern Section, DL (2003)
1st Team All-CIF Division 1, DL (2003)
Idaho aggressively went after linemen to fill the ranks on both sides of the ball this recruiting season. Among the signees is Long Beach Poly product Marcis Fennell. A senior who has played primarily on the defensive line throughout his career (where he earned All-CIF and All-Conference honors), became a 2-way starter as a senior.
The staff shuffled the OL around significantly during the season, but settled on a line that included Marcis at center for the playoffs. The Jackrabbits went 11-3, and fell to eventual champ Loyola in the finals. The Long Beach Poly line had been noted as one of the smaller units in recent memory, and one of the only ones with 4 players starting both ways. But this unit also played among the best down the playoff stretch, giving up just 1 sack in 3 playoff games (all wins). The unit, and Fennell in particular, credited off-season conditioning (from the Press-Telegram):
"It's been hard, but our offseason program was real tough this year so we got in shape early,' said Fennell, who's also the team's long snapper and almost never leaves the field. "My body is used to all the punishment it takes now.'
LINK: Long Beach Poly OL Spotlight Before Championship Game (Press Telegram)
6-2, 180 Pounds
JC Transfer, Currently Enrolled at the UI, On Campus
School: Citrus Junior College
1st Team All Conference, DB (2003)
It's no secret the Idaho has some shoes to fill in the defensive backfield with the departure of All Conference cornerback Rod Bryant and 5 other seniors (plus the departure of senior-to-be Ben Allen). Its also no surprise that the Vandals will be looking to a couple JC transfers to help shore up the backfield, including the addition of cornerback/safety Lawrence Guynes.
Lawrence joins the Vandals after a solid JC career at Citrus College, capped off by an All-Conference sophomore season in which he pulled down 6 interceptions on the season. As a 6-2 athlete, he offers impressive size for a cornerback.
Lawrence is currently on campus and is expected to be a contributor in the Spring Game on April 30th.
6-5, 220 Pounds
School: Calabasas High School (Coyotes)
1st Team All-Marmonte League, DE
Idaho went out looking for defensive line prospects this recruiting season, and signed a group of seven. Among them, the tallest prospect is defensive end Rick Harrison of Calabasas High School in northern California. Praised as the "cornerstone" of a very young Calabasas defense this year by his coach, Rick (a two-way starter who also played TE) ended the year as a 1st Team All-Marmonte League selection.
Although his team struggled to an 0-10 season, Rick impressed area coaches with his performance and work ethic throughout his career. A 2-year starter, he continued to show solid development and attract college coaches despite his team's overall struggles.
As a 6-5 defensive end, he will bring a little more height coming off the end than Idaho has had in several years. With 6 classmates slated for the defensive line, Rick should be in the thick of the fight for playing time soon as Idaho rebuilds its defensive front on the foundation of this class.
6-2, 227 Pounds
Calgary, Alberta (Canada)
School: St. Francis High School (Browns)
A big back with an outstanding motor, runningback / fullback prospect Rolly Lambala is a load to bring down. We've heard quite abit about this athlete from the staff, and are excited by what we hear. Unfortunately, there are no stats on this athlete out of Calgary, Alberta (Canada). On our message board, an individual claims that he runs a 4.45 forty, and has been a starter on the varsity unit since he was a freshman. We can't substantiate this claim, but the film on him certainly makes it seem plausible.
Rolly is one player we're simply going to have to just wait and see on....and we look forward to it!
Linebacker / Defensive Line
6-1, 280 Pounds
School: Milpitas High School
1st Team All Santa Clara Valley, DeAnza Div, LB
We're going to go out on a limb here, and bet that it takes less than a full season for Siua Musika to simply go by "MOOSE" in the Vandal lockerroom. Quite the physical specimen, the 6-1, 280 pound athlete was clocked by his high school coaches at Milpitas High School running a 4.9 second 40 yard dash the summer before his senior season. He had just transferred to Milpitas from Burbank High, and his HS staff wasn't quite sure what to do with that speed on a 280 pound frame.
Consequently, he was moved from defensive line to linebacker, and also was given an opportunity to play some runningback. The move proved effective as he went on to earn All Santa Clara Valley Conference honors as an inside LINEBACKER last season. He ended last season with 102 tackles (53 unassisted), a fumble recovery, and also rushed for 479 yards and 4 TDs (averaging 5.6 yards per carry).
From an article on SFGate.com:
"Basically, he physically dominates," King said. "(He) takes blocks well, can run sideline to sideline, hits really well."
Wherever Siua ends up, whether its DL or LB, we have a feeling he will make a solid impact.
Musia was a defensive lineman in the past.
"I'm a versatile player," he said. "Some coaches play me at D-line, some coaches put me at linebacker. I think I'm better at D-line. To me being D-line is a little bit easier. All you've got to do is fight the pressure. (At) linebacker, you have to read off three guys. You have to see everyone. At D- line, the (offensive) linemen tell you where to go."
LINK: Spotlight article on Siua Musika (SFGate.com)
6-3, 205 Pounds
School: Mary Persons High School (Bulldogs)
3rd Team All-State, DB
Idaho loaded up on defensive back prospects, and one of the biggest may be Brandon Ogletree our of Forsyth, Georgia. The state of Georgia has been ranked by several publications as the #4 football talent hotbed, behind California, Florida and Texas. One site on TheInsiders.com ranked Brandon the #81 prospect in the state in August, adding that he is a "workout wonder that can make a huge jump up this list. He's made this list based on pure potential of his workout numbers."
Those numbers include a 40 time of 4.5 seconds, and a solid showing throughout his highschool career in track. His ability to move is part of the reason The Orlando Sentinal rates Brandon one of the top 4 prospects in this year's recruiting class at Idaho.
Brandon was a 2-way starter for the Bulldogs, and can be expected to be in the mix for playing time in the Vandal backfield. If not this fall, then very likely shortly thereafter.
6-1, 170 Pounds
School: Hahnville High School
All District 6-5A
Idaho went into Louisiana a couple years ago and lured Wendell Octave of St. James High School out of the bayou and onto the Palouse (Wendell saw significant PT last year as a RS-Fr). This year the Vandals struck again in Louisiana, this time getting a letter of intent from Hahnville High senior Christian Populis, a wide receiver from a team steeped in victories last season. Christian's Tigers went 15-0 in 2003, including winning the Class 5A state championship over Evangel 41-35 in the Superdome.
Christian scored the first touchdown of the game for Hahnville as his team was facing fourth-and-three at the Evangel 37 in the first quarter. Quarterback Bryant Lee found Populis between a linebacker and two defensive backs. Populis caught the ball in stride and split the backs for the tying score. In a game earlier in the year, he hauled in 5 catches for 95 yards and 2 TDs. His Tigers put up alot of points in 2003, and Christian was a major part of it.
He didn't get the huge numbers or accolades, in large-part because he played for on a team with one of the more sought after runningbacks in the country (Darius Reynaud). More importantly, Idaho was looking to land some playmakers at wide receiver in this class, and Christian certainly seems to fit the mold.
6-1, 195 Pounds
School: Churchill High School
2nd Team, All-MidWestern Conference, LB (2003)
Honorable Mention, All-MidWestern Conference, LB (2003)
One of the things that became clear in Coach Holt's first recruiting class was that he was looking for speed and versatility. Idaho certainly picks up those qualities in David Vobora, a Eugene, Oregon prospect who has played numerous positions throughout his career. One quality is consistent...he rarely comes off the field.
Offensively he played this season at quarterback and runningback. Defensively he worked primarily at linebacker, but got time at safety as well. From the Official Idaho Press Release on this year's recruiting class:
"David is one of the best players to come out of our high school in several years, and we've got five or six at Division I schools right now," said Tim Carmichael, Churchill's athletic director. "He's a good person, a solid citizen, and a really hard worker."
David joins a linebacking recruiting class that has all the same qualities from prospect to prospect....athletic and versatile.