7 Biggest Questions Boise State Needs to Answer Before 2014 National Signing Day
Bryan Harsin is now the head football coach at Boise State, and from the sounds around Bronco Nation, the school hired the right guy.
However, now that Harsin has taken over, the real work begins for him.
He must, in the coming days, move his family, get settled back in Boise, do the public relations tour, assemble a staff and put together a recruiting class.
Of course, that is probably only the half of it.
The recruiting class aspect may not have an immediate impact, but it is important to the future of the program.
The Broncos have lost a few verbally committed recruits during the coaching changeover, and there are probably a few other recruits nervous about what has transpired and what the future might hold.
For Harsin, it will be an evaluation period followed by action. He will have to quickly assess the recruit situation, and then add players he thinks will be a fit in Boise.
This late in the game, there are probably limited options, but Bryan Harsin doesn't seem like the type of guy that lets that slow him down.
Let's look at seven of the biggest questions he will have to ponder in the coming weeks leading up to national signing day.
Who's in and Who's Out?
According to 247Sports.com, Boise State has a total of eight solid commitments for its 2014 recruiting class. That number was a bit higher before former head coach Chris Petersen decided to leave Boise for the University of Washington job.
Among the list of players that are no longer considered "hard commits" are quarterback Jalen Greene, defensive end Jaylen Johnson and offensive guard Troy Bacon.
Of those who are still committed to the Broncos, the biggest question may be whether or not they will remain committed. Or perhaps an even bigger question is whether or not the new coaching staff will even honor all of the previous offers.
To the latter question, it would be surprising if Boise State didn't honor every offer.
With such a short time to sign a class and with the talent level of the current list of committed recruits, the Broncos would probably be best suited building around that core rather than starting from scratch.
New head coach Bryan Harsin will need to add about eight more to the 2014 class, but of course that number could shrink or grow depending on what transpires.
Another good reason to keep the current offers valid is because of the new NCAA recruiting rules that make Dec. 15 through Jan. 15 a "dead period" for recruiting.
With Feb. 5 being national letter of intent day, that doesn't leave a lot of time to fill this class.
What Is the Biggest Need of the 2014 Recruiting Class?
The Broncos biggest areas of need right now are on defense.
First, some larger, more physical defensive backs might be helpful to shore up a defensive secondary that struggled in 2013.
That same secondary is playing better than they did at the beginning of the season, but it is still having issues defending the passing game and bringing down runners in the open field. Players with decent size and speed would be a great addition to the 2014 class.
The defensive line could be an even bigger area of need for Boise State, but it isn't because of a lack of talent or size. It is simply a numbers game.
The defensive line needs solid play from a number of players that can be rotated in to keep the line playing at a high level. Boise State must add to the current talent pool if they want to be able to have a dominant defense in coming seasons.
With the loss of senior defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, the Broncos lose a great player. However, with losing just one player from the line, they will also be in a good position to add additional talent in 2014.
Of course, adding a few offensive lineman is always a need, and the Broncos usually take a quarterback, a few wide receivers, and a running back or two in every class.
The greatest need will certainly be assessed by new head coach Bryan Harsin, but the rest of Bronco Nation will probably have to wait until the 2014 class is signed to get a picture of what that looks like.
Will There Be a Quarterback in This Recruiting Class?
One question on the minds of many Boise State fans is whether or not there will be a quarterback in the 2014 recruiting class.
Traditionally, the Broncos sign one QB a season. That was going to be true again in 2014 with the addition of dual-threat quarterback Jalen Greene. However, with his recent visit to Washington, that prospect is looking less likely.
So, with such little time left before signing day, will the Broncos land a quarterback if Greene moves on?
One thing to consider for Boise State fans is that Harsin is bringing back a more "Boise-like" offense, which might mean he could be looking for more of a pro-style quarterback.
Of course, Jalen Greene could adapt to that system. Greene is noted as a dual-threat quarterback, but he is definitely pass first and has a nice touch on the ball.
It will be something many in Bronco Nation will keep an eye on.
Are There Any Overlooked, Underestimated Prospects out There?
The legend of players like Kellen Moore has become part of the Boise State mystique.
The "undervalued," "overlooked," "diamond in the rough" recruit has become a big part of what makes the football program at Boise State so successful.
Yes, Boise State has had success in developing those kind of players. But that isn't the only reason for the success of players like Kellen Moore.
Many of the overlooked talent that eventually gets a chance as a Bronco also carry large chips on their shoulders. They have been told too many times that they need to settle for something less. They have been told they aren't big enough, fast enough or talented enough to play in the FBS.
Right now, at this very moment, perhaps reading these very words, there are young men from around the nation who are dreaming of playing the game they love so much at the highest level. Some of those same players have dreamed of one day running out onto the blue turf of Bronco Stadium.
Among them are hearts that beat strong for the opportunity to prove themselves worthy.
Boise State football has never been about Boise State chasing and begging players to come and be part of the blue collar tradition that is the Bronco way.
Boise State football is about opening the door for hungry, highly committed, hard-working, dedicated young men who will sacrifice, learn, sweat, bleed blue, challenge themselves and others to become better on the field and in the classroom and who are faithful to the values of the program.
No matter how many so-called "stars" they have next to their name on some recruiting list, they know deep down inside that they can play this game with the best of them.
Bryan Harsin, an underdog himself who walked on at Boise State before earning his scholarship, knows what to look for when recruiting the right kind of player. He probably has very little problem recognizing the gleam in the eye of a future Bronco.
With limited time left and only half of the recruiting class accounted for, it will fascinating to see what kind of class Harsin puts together.
If history is any indication, there is bound to be a diamond in the rough.
Who knows? There might even be a handful of them.
Who Will Be on the Coaching Staff?
For a head coach to be truly successful in the area of recruiting, he also needs good assistants.
Usually on any coaching staff, there are the "go-to-guys." Coaches that seem to have a knack for recruiting.
The head coach has to be a great recruiter himself, but having one or two assistants that can do this well is invaluable.
It will be interesting to see what kind of staff Bryan Harsin puts together. It will be equally interesting to see what kind of recruiters those same assistant coaches are.
We probably won't know the full impact by signing day, but it should give us a pretty good indication.
Will Harsin Bring Any Recruits with Him?
One thing that almost always happens when a coaching staff changes is that a few players will follow a head coach to his new school.
Boise State fans are getting a taste of that now with some of the recruits that had committed to the Broncos now looking like they will join Chris Petersen in Washington.
So the question becomes will any of Harsin's current recruits join him here.
For instance, the Arkansas State Red Wolves currently have 14 players on their list of committed recruits, according to 247Sports.com.
Among them are a pro-style quarterback, a few defensive secondary players with decent size, a few defensive linemen, a running back, a wide receiver, an athlete, an offensive lineman and three linebackers.
Now with the different style of offense Harsin runs, and with the current needs of the Broncos on defense, would any of those players be willing to come to Boise State?
Would the Broncos offer any of them?
One of the biggest obstacles might be geography, as most of the recruits on that list are from Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana. There are a few from Texas however, which is a normal recruiting area for the Broncos.
I don't know if Harsin and his staff would actively recruit any of those players, but if some of them were interested, you have to wonder if the new Boise State staff would be willing to listen.
It's certainly not the same situation it is with Boise State and Washington. Those schools are in the same area, and the Pac-12 has prestige the Mountain West doesn't.
How Good Will Bryan Harsin's First Recruiting Class Be on Paper?
When it's all said and done, just how good will Bryan Harsin's first recruiting class be on paper?
Those are the best qualities of any recruiter.
He also has his experience in Texas as an offensive coordinator, his one season at Arkansas State where he led his team to a share of a conference title, and two Fiesta Bowl victories at Boise State as the offensive coordinator.
Not to mention he was Kellen Moore's coordinator and the master of the "three plays that shocked the world."
All of that together, plus his integrity, his family life, his commitment to education and his commitment to the Boise State program all point to a recruiting powerhouse.
It also helps that Boise State is his dream job.
Once had someone who knows Bryan Harsin tell me he'd "crawl over burning coals and broken glass for this job."— Jay Tust (@KTVBSportsGuy) December 9, 2013
How powerful will it be when parents and players ask Harsin if he is going to stick around, and he can simply quote himself?
In the press release Boise State released via BroncoSports.com the day he was hired, Harsin said:
We're coming home. Kes and I are thrilled about returning to Boise State, it's a special place built by special people. One of the hardest decisions we ever made was leaving Boise. We did that so I could become a better coach, so I could one day have the opportunity to return as head coach—that day has arrived.