Welcome to a fun off-season series that Michael, Hunter (both of FKWG), Zach, and Mike (both of MWCConnection) are rolling out for your viewing enjoyment (hopefully). Back in February, excitement was at an all time high for fans and coaches alike as the 2023 class was officially signed. Like every year, fans often tout a class as potentially one of the best on paper. However, once players get on campus and actually on the field, the true story begins to reveal itself. It can often take years for a class to truly be judged as the impact of many players won’t be seen for a few seasons. That being said, this series will aim to revisit and evaluate Boise State’s 2019 class. There has now been enough time that many members of the class have either left or are entering their final seasons, which means players are able to be looked at for their production (or lack thereof) rather than projection and hype.
Anyway, each week, the four of us will look at a different position group from the class. While we will contribute two posts each week over the next month, the location of the posts will change. The start of the week will feature a post on FKWG while the end of the week will see a post up on MWCConnection, that way readers of both sites can follow along. Each post will have all of us weighing in on the same talking points for each season: our expectations of the player from when they signed, the production they gave each season on the team, and their overall impact. The impact will fit into one of 3 categories (exceeded expectations, met expectations, or below expectations). We will each keep a running tally of our totals and then at the end we can each determine the over impact the 2019 class had. It should be a fun and interesting study to see what kind of careers each player had and revisit some names that may have been forgotten.
The 2019 recruiting class was arguably the best in Boise State history and one of the best classes by a Group of 5 school ever. It was flooded with four-stars and other highly-rated players and seemed poised to make a big impact on the field for the Broncos. It definitely raised the ceiling for what the coaching staff could do on the recruiting trail. Perhaps more importantly, this class raised the floor for BSU recruiting as well, as not many players would be labeled as projects or under-the-radar types. But how has it down on the field? To hear our thoughts on specific players from the class, read below.
Part 1: Quarterbacks
The quarterback position is the one that receives the most attention in any recruiting class and this cycle was no different. The Broncos secured a huge QB commit in May and caused a stir when a second one committed halfway during the season. Both ending up signing, but neither finished their careers with Boise State.
Expectations when he signed: High. But, like…REALLY high. So high that you’d need oxygen to breathe at the heights those expectations got up to. He wasn’t just the highest rated QB Boise State had ever signed. He had the highest grade of a QB to ever join the conference.
2019 Season: First game out of the gate, it really felt like those lofty expectations were going to be met and then some. He only had one score in the game, and he had an interception…but he dodged a literal hurricane to sneak into Tallahasse, throw all over Florida State for 407 yards, and lead an incredible comeback over the Seminoles. Hurricane Hank was born. As the season went on, he put up some moderate stats before ultimately getting injured ¾ of the way through the season. Chase Cord took over for a bit, and even had the heroic effort of playing at BYU with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder (as we later found out on Jay Tust’s podcast), but then he got shelved as well and Jaylon Henderson carried the Broncos the rest of the way through to their last Mountain West Championship. We saw Bachmeier again in the bowl game but…it wasn’t good. He ran into a buzzsaw vs UW in Coach Pete’s last game as a coach. He threw for 119 yards and two interceptions.
2020 Season: Expectations were…that there wasn’t even going to be a football season. Covid was in full swing at that point. So, eventually having a delayed and abbreviated mostly-just-conference-games season didn’t really leave much room for hype. That said, Hank came out of the gate slinging. He took Utah State apart for 3 TDs and no picks. He didn’t play the next week, however, and Jack Sears crushed Air Force in his place. Bachmeier was out the next week vs BYU too. Sears got hurt on the opening drive, Cord was already out, so Cade Fennegan (now AT Brigham Young)–the fourth stringer–came in and…did what he could. It wasn’t much.
Bachmeier came back and did just enough to beat Hawaii and Wyoming, but then he and the Broncos had a rough game vs San Jose State in the Spartans’ once-in-a-lifetime season of destiny and lost the conference championship to them.
2021 Season: At this point, most of the focus at the outset of the season was on the new, incoming coaching staff and athletic director. So, Bachmeier avoided the majority of the pressure of uncertainty. Unfortunately, when it came time to play the games, he wasn’t as able to avoid literal pressure. Of the pass rush variety. He got hit a LOT. It wasn’t always his fault for holding onto the ball too long…but it also very frequently was exactly that. He did have some impressive games (UTEP, Colorado State), but he also had some headscratchingly bad moments, such as the end of both the UCF and Air Force games. Ultimately, though, the season was not what would have been considered a success by the standards of either the expectations for Bachmeier’s or BSU, in general. They beat #10 BYU, in Provo, and had a shot to make the conference championship game when they had a 4 game winning streak and got on too of San Diego State early in their final game. Ultimately, however, SDSU adapted to a lot of running with their QB in the second half and they pulled away. The Mountain West was ultimately won that year by Utah State…a team that the Bachmeier-led Broncos had beaten 27-3, in Logan. Life is weird, man…
2022 Season: This was it. Time to pull it all together and really make the magic happen to leave Boise State as a legend. Barely over two quarters into the opener at Oregon State, however, Bachmeier found himself on the bench, having turned the ball over three times and putting Boise State into an insurmountable deficit. Taylen Green came in and was electric. To the point where it almost seemed like they had a chance at a comeback for a minute, but ultimately the Beavers pulled away. Boise State lost that game, but then beat New Mexico and Tennesee-Martin. It seemed like if he could just do enough on offense, the Broncos defense was going to carry the team through 2022. And then UTEP happened. The Broncos had beaten UTEP by 40+ points the year before, but somehow they stymied Bachmeier and the offense, and the defense allowed almost a whole quarter’s worth of minutes to be used up on a single drive…and the Broncos left El Paso with an L. After some soul searching and tumultuous weekend, it was announced that Boise State was firing offensive coordinator, Tim Plough. Soon after that, Bachmeier was in the transfer portal, not just ending his season, but his career with Boise State. Entering the transfer portal when he did (after just four games played) allowed him to keep one more season of eligibility.
Overall Impact: This one hurts a lot. I really really liked the potential of Bachmeier and he seemed to be a really good dude. Presumably still is! I fell hard for the legend of Hurricane Hank though, so I made a lot of excuses and employed an awful lot of adaptive preference formation until it was undeniable that he just wasn’t it. It became clear when I ran into Jay Tust on the side of the field in Corvallis at halftime and both of us looked at each other with wide-eyed “What the !@#$ just happened??” faces and then shared our incredulity over what had unfolded in the first two quarters. And it really sucked because I think he, I, and certainly most of the Boise State fanbase really liked Hank as a person and wanted him to succeed. But, ultimately, his time as a Bronco can’t be painted as anything other than a failure to meet expectations. Not even by someone with a talent for embellishment, that really wishes that wasn’t the case. That said, I hope the fresh start in Ruston helps him to find his potential and he re-emerges there. In the meantime, I’m excited to be seeing a lot of Green on The Blue…
Expectations when he signed: High. Hank Bachmeier was the highest rated QB recruit in Bronco history. Coming off another 4 star recruit QB in Brett Rypien, Bronco nation was ready to pass on the QB torch to Hank Bachmeier, who chose us over the likes of a plethora of P5 teams, including some SEC schools.
2019 Season: It seemed he had already etched his name in Bronco legend with an extraordinary comeback on the road in Tallahassee as a true freshman. He threw for over 400 yards that game, and for a moment it looked as if we didn’t just get a new Brett Rypien, but something closer to a Kellen Moore. Unfortunately, that was the most yards he ever threw in a single game, although he played well for the games he was in. Injuries and availability became a problem, perhaps for O-line woes or a lack of mobility. He only played a total of 7 games that season, and honestly probably shouldn’t have played in the bowl.
2020 Season: 2020 brought some serious doubt in the Hank discussion. The offense was fairly dysfunctional, and he was sacked often. I tried to tell myself it was 2020, but it didn’t quite look like the Hank we remembered.
2021 Season: A new staff with Andy Avalos and Tim Plough at the offensive reins brought promise to a new season. He played well in the season opener, although throwing a pick to end the game. He had some good games throughout, with solid performances in big games against BYU and Fresno. Overall, I can’t fault him for the entire offense, an MIA running game for half the season will do that to ya, but it didn’t seem like Hank was winning us games either.
2022 Season: The season opener at Oregon State was a little shocking. While Hank had some bad games previously, he looked woefully outmatched in Corvallis. Not long after, the UTEP game was the final nail in the coffin in a dark moment for Hank and the team. He announced he’d be transferring after the game, and so the Hank era ended, along with Tim Plough.
Overall Impact: Hank Bachmeier is not a bad quarterback. There are so many factors that influence quarterback success, and not all of them were his fault. That being said, the offense looked pretty weak for most of his time, and might’ve looked worse if not for a guy like Khalil Shakir. I think I can safely say he failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed: ENORMOUS! Bachmeier was the most heralded recruit to ever sign with the Broncos. Fans were ecstatic and it looked like the Broncos might have their first NFL quarterback. Bachmeier gave the Boise State fan base hope that they might have the next Kellen Moore.
2019 Season: Hank earned the starting quarterback job and came out with one of the most epic performances a Bronco quarterback ever had in an improbable come from behind victory over Florida State. Hank showed signs of greatness before suffering an injury against Hawaii. But his early season performance helped to lead the Broncos to a Mountain West title.
2020 Season: The COVID season. It kind of felt like Jack Sears was breathing down Bachmeier’s neck, especially after Sears’ performance against Air Force. But Hank returned a few weeks later and had a decent season. But we didn’t see the growth we all expected.
2021 Season: A new coach and new system and if we are being honest, the system and the atrocious offensive line play did not do Hank any favors. Hank made it through the entire season and statistically, he had his best season as a Bronco. But the team did not meet expectations as they failed to reach the Mountain West Championship game.
2022 Season: Hank was a shell of his former self. He played his worst games as a Bronco in losses against Oregon State and UTEP, he even struggled in wins against New Mexico and Tennessee-Martin. When offensive coordinator Tim Plough was fired after the UTEP loss, Bachmeier decided to enter the transfer portal,
Overall Impact: A lot of what ifs with Hank. What happens if he doesn’t get hurt his freshman year? What happens if the Broncos had a competent offensive line? What happens if Bryan Harsin stays in Boise? A lot of Hank’s issues were not his fault, but he was notorious for holding on to the football too long and taking way too many unnecessary hits. But Hank never won a championship game and that is not the Boise State standard. For that reason, Bachmeier failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed: Bachmeier was the Bronco’s top target at QB and expectations were sky-high when he committed and even higher when he enrolled early in hopes of winning the starting job. He appeared to have the talent to be a four-year starter and make for a bright future.
2019 Season: After winning the starting job in fall camp, Hurricane Hank burst onto the scene with a comeback win over Florida State on the road. He looked like a revelation at the quarterback position through the first half of the season, mixing talent with the potential of an even higher ceiling. He missed some games in the second half due to an injury and wasn’t himself when he returned from a bowl game, but the future looked bright for both him and the team.
2020 Season: The pandemic shortened the season and appeared to keep Bachmeier from truly breaking out. He had a very good, but not great year in between missing two games, as he was on pace for an above-average stat line over the course of a normal season. His future still looked bright, but it also didn’t seem like he improved since his freshman campaign.
2021 Season: Hank was able to play a full season for the first time in his career, and the results were… above average. He posted career highs in pretty much every category, but both he and the team were never able to find another gear. In his defense, Bachmeier played most of the season with an MCL injury. The OL wasn’t great, but his ability to evade pressure or get rid of the ball quickly wasn’t great either. He basically played like a second-tier Mountain West quarterback, which is below the Boise State standard.
2022 Season: Entering his fourth season, the expectation was Hank would take a step forward and finally reach the potential he teased in 2019. However, he didn’t. In the season opener, he looked lost and was pulled in the first quarter after three turnovers. He struggled in his other three games before announcing he would enter the transfer portal to maintain two years of eligibility while he explored other options. He ended up at LA Tech.
Overall Impact: It is worth noting that Hank accomplished more than most quarterbacks do in college, but what he accomplished was nowhere near good enough. On one hand, he had a lot going against him; injuries, poor OL play, three different Offensive Coordinators in his first three seasons, and personal attacks on social media. On the other hand, Bachmeier couldn’t recapture the magic of his first game/month and simply did not improve while he was in college. He held on to the ball too long for someone who wasn’t mobile enough to escape inevitable pressure. It would be hard to find many players who were tougher, but it doesn’t change the fact that he failed to meet expectations during his Bronco career.
Expectations when he signed: Decently high from a smaller subset of Bronco fans. And even if people were firmly bought into Hank, they still liked the sleeper potential of a highly prolific dual-threat player as a backup.
2019 Season: However, Bennett seemed to not like his own potential, as far as getting playing time at Boise State, and jumped in the transfer portal before the season even started.
2020 Season: N/A
2021 Season: N/A
2022 Season: N/A
Overall Impact: Next to none.
Expectations when he signed: Pretty low. He did have some offers from some big names, but the focus was mainly on Hank. Still, there was some intrigue in the prospects of fielding a dual-threat, even just as a change-of-pace.
2019 Season: He hit the transfer portal in August before the season and ended up at Nevada.
2020 Season: N/A
2021 Season: N/A
2022 Season: N/A
Overall Impact: None. He transferred early before really doing anything. Failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed: Low. Not for his ability, but for the fact that the Broncos had already received a commitment from Hank Bachmeier. Bennett was actually a highly rated quarterback with some impressive offers. But it never felt like he would have the opportunity to see the field.
2019 Season: Bennett transferred out of the program near the end of fall camp when it became apparent that Hank Bachmeier would be the starting quarterback.
2020 Season: N/A
2021 Season: N/A
2022 Season: N/A
Overall Impact: Bennett has never found his footing as a college quarterback. He has definitely failed to meet expectations.
Expectations when he signed: When he committed, it was puzzling, to say the least. At first I wondered if Bennett was insurance in case Bachmeier flipped before December. When it became clear he wouldn’t, I wondered if he was brought in because coaches were assuming Hank played right away while Kaiden redshirted to keep the classes balanced. I figured he would either be the mobile change of pace backup, would switch positions, or was likely to transfer after a year or two.
2019 Season: It was no surprise that Bennett transferred out of the program. What was surprising was that he did it around the end of fall camp.
2020 Season: N/A
2021 Season: N/A
2022 Season: N/A
Overall Impact: Bennett had a rough few years, walking on at Nevada a week or so after leaving Boise State and then transferring to Sacramento State a year later. He has played there as a reserve the past two seasons. Needless to say, he failed to meet expectations.
Michael J: 0 exceeded expectations, 0 met expectations, 2 failed to meet expectations
Hunter: 0 exceeded expectations, 0 met expectations, 2 failed to meet expectations
Zach: 0 exceeded expectations, 0 met expectations, 2 failed to meet expectations.
Mike W: 0 exceeded expectations, 0 met expectations, 2 failed to meet expectations.