The last 2 seasons have been.....long. Long for Idaho fans accustomed to lots of winning while cheering the team on to conference championships. And, more importantly, its been particularly long for the young men and coaches on this team.
However, this recruiting season marks a couple of firsts for Idaho under the guidance of head coach Tom Cable. For starters, Idaho will not be scrambling to find players to come in and start immediately on the offensive and defensive lines. We lose 2 starters on the offensive line, but unlike a couple years ago (when Rick DeMulling and that outstanding group graduated), we can turn to a healthy group of players already in the system to take over (1 senior, 2 juniors, 5 sophomores, and 4 redshirt freshmen will compete). To highlight the difference in depth that we have up front now, when DeMulling's class graduated, Idaho was forced to recruit 4 JC offensive linemen, 2 of whom started immediately. That was a first at Idaho...a school that long prided itself on plenty of depth in the trenches.
On the interior defensive line, this year we lose 1 starter, but sophomore Kelly Talavou (started 2 games last year), senior Jason Jones, junior Johnny Parra, redshirt freshman Geoff Zuber, and others should be there to take over. As is the case on the offensive line, we finally have good depth across the defensive front.
More importantly, linemen that come in now can develop in the system, without the pressure of having never played a down of 1-A college football before. If a rookie comes in and starts next year, they will have beaten out some good players to get there. Essentially, the last 3 years, which have been largely focused on recruiting hosses, are now starting to pay off, and we can really focus on bringing in specialists (RBs and WRs).
Secondly, with the return of 3 starters in the defensive backfield (Rod Bryant, Darryl Murphy, and hopefully Robert Ortega), recruits brought in now will be competing against some good players for playing time. It won't (or shouldn't) be a situation where we're scrambling, looking for bodies to put on the field. We have some quality players back there now, so a recruit that starts next year should truely be the best we have, not the only one we have. Plus, with 3 redshirt freshmen and 2 sophomores in the fold now, there is some depth that can, again, develop in the system.
For years Idaho has been fairly successful recruiting the JCs for wide receivers and running backs. This year, since we have good depth across the offensive line (3 returning starters and a ton of depth) and at tight end (we return 3 TEs with starting experience, and 4 total with significant game experience), we can really focus on bringing in some specialists from the highschool and JC ranks.
Plus, when was the last time a redshirt freshman made an impact at wide receiver for Idaho? Last year, for the first time in many years, Jeff Stowe did just that, ending up the 4th leading receiver on the team (11 games, 30 receptions, 363 yards and 2 TDs). With seniors Orlando Winston (returning starter) and Cedric Thompson coming back, plus Jeff (who is looking like a solid possession receiver), redshirt freshman Wendell Octave, and an improving depth chart, Idaho can focus their recruiting effort on bringing in receivers to help stretch the field.
Below is a quick look at 6 JC recruits who are reportedly currently enrolled at the University of Idaho, and should be on the field for spring drills. We've also included a couple of high school players who have reportedly verbally committed to the Vandals. We're excited to see how this class fills out, and will be tracking it on this site at the link provided below:
2003 Vandal Football Recruits
Also, to get a better idea of our depth going into next fall, we've prepared a chart, by position, of expected returning players. You will need to scroll down after you click on the link to see the charts:
2003 Football Depth Chart
As we get more information, we'll keep the recruiting link updated. In the mean-time, make plans to come to Moscow to see the team during the annual Silver and Gold game.
6-3, 205 Pounds
Previous: Butte College (CA)
Games Played 2002: 6
From a JCFootball.com report: "Bobby missed three games due to injury, but that's not deterring four-year schools from knocking. This December grad will attend either Idaho, Minnesota (tripping next week), or Eastern Washington. "He's a good slant, post, and comeback guy due to his size," said Butte coach Craig Rigsbee. "Bernal is also a good blocker."
Fortunately for us, he chose Idaho over Minnesota and EWU.
As a sophomore at Butte College this year, Bobby caught 33 passes for 497 yards (82.8 yards per game) with 4 touchdowns. He ended the year ranked 18th among California Community College receivers in catches per game (5.5 receptions per game), on a Butte team ranked 11th in the state of California in total offense (455 yards per game). Bobby was also a triple jumper at BC.
As a senior at Tyee High School in Seattle (1999), Bobby was named to the All-Seamount League first team as a wide receiver, defensive back, and return specialist.
Courtesy Butte College
6-0, 175 Pounds
Santa Ana, CA
Previous: Fullerton College
As a sophomore free safety at Fullerton College, Curtis appeared in all 10 games for the Hornets. He finished sixth on the team with 48 tackles (26 solo), ranking second among defensive backs. He
registered 2 INTs (22 return yards), tied for second on the team, and he broke-up four passes. In 2001 he played in six games as a freshman, posting 9 tackles (6 solo, 1 for loss).
At Servite High School (Class of 2000) Curtis was a 2-time All-Serra League defensive back under Coach Larry Toner. He was voted First Team All-League as a senior safety/cornerback, finishing the year with 4 INTs. He also had 4 INTs his junior year, when he was named Second Team All-League. Curtis lettered in basketball (3 years, 2-time all-league) and track (high jump, long jump).
Courtesy Fullerton College
6-4, 230 Pounds
Los Angeles, CA
6-6, 190 Pounds
Los Angeles, CA
OK, we've been trying to get as much information as we can on these twins who come to Idaho from LA Southwest College in Los Angeles. We're still digging, but what we do know is the following:
- Ernest was named to the All-Western State Conference first team defense this year. As things go, he's listed on that site as 6-6, 220, and on the Idaho official site as 6-6, 190. Either way, he should not be too hard to pick out of a crowd. He was also an Honorable Mention selection in 2001.
- Eric was named named to All-WSC team as an honorable mention on defense this year. At 6-4, 230, Eric was also awarded Honorable Mention in 2001 as a Freshman.
As we get more information on these brothers of former San Diego Charger, Chris Mims, we'll post it. In the meantime, we think both these guys are going to be immediate contributors on the team next year. Also, given the size and depth we have on the interior defensive line, we'd expect both these guys to play defensive end.
Wide Receiver / Return Specialist
5-11, 175 Pounds
Previous School: Scottsdale Community College
1st Team All-WSFL Return Specialist
2nd Team All-WSFL Wide Receiver
Idaho is hitting the recruiting trail hard for specialists (receivers, running backs), and Matt is one recruit with a ton of potential. Rated by TheInsiders.com as a 3 Star recruit, this season he had 23 catches for 401 yards and returned 17 punts for 247 yards. Not earth shattering numbers, but combined with 4.45-40 speed, a 35 inch vertical leap, and a solid route runner, he is effective. Scottsdale CC coach Bontemps says: "Matt is one of the best kids on the team. He did very well (last year) against Glendale's All-American safety, Eric Blackwell."
Continued Bontemps, "Matt has an incredible work ethic. He started at wide receiver, kick returner, and punt returner for us as a freshman. He's like a horse! A blue-collar type person, who doesn't believe anyone can guard him."
At the JCFootball.com combine, Miller ran two 4.45 forties and posted a 4.01 shuttle. His 35-inch vertical and 18 reps of 185 pounds were also good numbers.
6-2, 182 Pounds
Previous School: Pendleton High School
2nd Team All-League Quarterback / DB
Team and Area MVP
The Vandals received an early Christmas present last December when Pendleton quarterback Brian Nooy was reported by TheInsider.com as making a verbal commitment to the University of Idaho. This dual threat quarterback went into this season rated by SuperPrep as the #11 player in Oregon, known as a tough runner and accurate passer. This year his Pendleton Buckaroos of the Intermountain Conference (4A, Oregon's big school category) struggled a bit, ending the season with a 5-4 record and third in Conference. Brian, however, ended this year ranked 14th among Oregon High School football prospects by Rivals.com, and earned 2nd Team All-League honors.
As a junior in 2001, Brian threw for 1,588 yards (20 TD's and 1 INT), ran for 573 yards (12 TD's), and carried a 3.2 GPA.
From TheInsiders.com: "As a redshirt freshman, I'll be the third-string quarterback," Nooy said. "I'll get to travel with the team and get reps a lot of other redshirt freshmen won't get. Plus, Idaho is ideal for what I want to do academically." Brian wants to pursue something in the forestry or wildlife area. "I don't want to be cooped up in an office all day," he added with a laugh.
Welcome aboard Brian, we look forward to watching you develop.
6-0, 175 Pounds
Previous School: Citrus College (CA)
Honorable Mention, All-WSFL, DB
Impressive. As a graduate of the University of Idaho, I'm pretty impressed with J.R.'s persistence. He was signed by Idaho last spring, but in the end did not qualify. Instead of dropping his dream to play college ball, he hit the books and is now qualified to enroll at Idaho. The fact that he did what he needed to do to make the mark is impressive...the fact that he chose to stay with Idaho is a source of pride.
Last year, Collegefootballnews.com rated J.R. the top recruit in last year's class at Idaho. The young man has the physical gifts to be a solid DB at the D1 level: he's swift (100 and 200 meter track athlete who also reportedly runs a sub-4.30 seconds 40 yard dash), has good size (6-1, 190), and is a good cover corner. He's missed a year of playing time, but as was the case last year, we look forward to watching J.R. this fall in a Vandal uniform, and wish him the best of luck.
6-5, 225 Pounds
Coeur d'Alene, ID
Previous School: Lake City High School
1st Team, All-State 4A, TE
1st Team, All-Conference, TE
One of the key components to Idaho's offense that has really been missing since Mike Roberg played for the Silver and Gold is a dominant tight end. In reality, we actually have a pretty good depth chart of talent (2 seniors, 2 sophomores). Unfortunately, over the last 2 years that depth chart has been decimated by injuries. Not so in 2003 as 3 players come back with starting experience. Plus, with a verbal commitment by Coeur d'Alene's Colin Whitney (6-5, 225, 4.9-40), Idaho's depth at that position should continue to improve.
Colin is ranked among the top 20 tightends in the Western Region by PacWestFootball.com, and is coming off a year in which his team went 9-3 and won the 4A State championship, beating Madison 47-26 at the Kibbie Dome. Earlier this fall he caught 3 passes for 101 yards in a game against Moscow High School, and was a critical member of the LC offense (he also played on the defensive line). He's also not a bad hoops player either.
We're excited to watch this 1st Team 4A All-State tightend and recruit from the State of Idaho develop in Moscow, and we think he'll definitely be a player to watch in the years ahead.