Best Pro Prospect- Ofa Mohetau- BYU: Tough to envision Mohetau not playing on Sunday's with his incredible talent and work ethic.
Most immediate impact- Alvin Marshall- UNLV: Marshall has All-American potential and could have 2,000 all purpose yards next season.
Biggest Recruiting Coup- Lynell Hamilton- SDSU: Hamilton could have played for just about any top 25 program in the nation.
Toughest conference Loss- Dennis Dixon- Oregon : Both San Diego State and Utah came incredibly close to landing the talented signal caller before he chose to play for the Ducks.
Coach To Watch- Urban Meyer- Utah : Meyer knows how to recruit as good as anyone. He drew raves at Notre Dame and will not be intimidated to go up against school in the country for players.
Like we said, there was very little separating anyone in the top five but we went with San Diego State No. 1 because we love their balance, they filled all their needs and they have some players we feel can make an immediate impact.
1. SAN DIEGO STATE
Marquee Player- Lynell Hamilton
Sleeper- Marc Hull
This might be the Aztecs best class in the last five years. Coach Craft did a great job combining high school and Junior College players and has a nice balance on both sides of the ball. On offense, Hamilton is obviously the headliner and a national recruit who could have signed just about anywhere in the country. We also like wide receivers Jose Perez and JUCO transfer Devin Pitts, a former USC signe.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Aztecs linebacker class is one of the best on the West Coast. Marc Hull, Lee Martin and Brett Martin are all very talented players who can run. Hull has great football instincts, Lee has a tremendous combination of speed and strength and Brett plays with a warrior mentality and could be All-MWC in a couple of years.
Two other players who could end up on either side of the ball are Cory Boudreaux and Brett Swain. Both are standout wide receivers/safety types who have good size, speed and come from excellent football programs.
2. COLORADO STATE
Marquee Player- Adam Gabriel
Sleeper- Eric Sandie
We always expect the Rams to recruit well and this year was no exception. Running back Adam Gabriel is a talented fullback prospect who is an excellent fit in the Rams one back offense. We also like the potential of wide receivers Greg Chatman and George Hill. Chatman had a big senior season and if he qualifies academically, could have an immediate impact next season. Hill is still new to receiver having played running back most of his career but has good speed and great hands.
The Rams did very well on the defensive side of the ball and landed several players we feel can be All-Conference type players. On the line, Blake Smith is a talented rush end who earned All-State honors this past season. Eric Sandie was tripped in late and offered a scholarship the week before Signing Day. He's a high motor player and a three year starter for the nation's top high school program. Ironically, Sandie's Concord (Calif.) De La Salle squad finished the season ranked the No. 1 team in the country by Student Sports while Smith's Tulsa (Okla.) Jenks squad finished the year at No. 3.
At linebacker, John Nichols is a big time talent who just needs to put some weight on before he'll be ready to make an impact. Nichols has great closing speed and flies to the football. In the secondary, Daryl Williams is a very a talented athlete who could play corner or safety in college. He's a sure tackler and has good cover skills.
Marquee Player- Ofa Mohetau
Sleeper- Matt Ah You
No one signed a class with more star power than the Cougars. BYU didn't have a lot of scholarships to give out since they have so many returning missionaries but in terms of quality, the Cougs landed one heck of a class. Their offensive line class could be the best in the nation led by our top OL, Ofa Mohetau. Mohetau is an absolute monster and a pancaking machine. He reminds us of former Nebraska and current San Diego Charger Tonui Fonoti in size, strength and aggressiveness.
On his own Mohetau would have made a great line class but the Cougs didn't stop there. They also landed Jason Speradon who we have a top five OL in the West, Dallas Reynolds, who turned down offers from Tennessee and Oregon among others and R.J Willing who was the top OL in Hawaii and turned down offers from Washington and Oregon.
On defense, Brian Soi is an All-American and one of the most dominant defensive tackle prospects on the West Coast. We also like linebacker David Nixon and feel Matt Ah You is a real sleeper. Ah You has good size and quickness and really packs a punch.
Marquee Player- Mike Liti
Sleeper- Thomas Huff
Watch out for the Utes. New head coach Urban Meyer was one of the best recruiters in the country while at Notre Dame and he'll leave no stone uncovered at Utah. In fact, his aggressive approach paid immediate dividends for the Utes as they signed an excellent class with several difference makers on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, we really like running back Mike Liti and feel he was one of the state's most underrated players this past season. He's a physical runner with good speed and should flourish in Utah's wide open scheme. Also watch for big things from Thomas Huff. The Arizona native had some grade issues which scared away a few colleges but on talent along, Huff has the all the ability in the world to become a big player maker early for the Utes.
On defense, the Utes signed three defensive backs we're very high on. Cornerback Ryan Smith has great speed and excellent cover skills. Eric Weddle is a tremendous athlete who has also excelled at receiver in high school. Martail Burnett is a big hitting safety who also excels in track and basketball. Also watch out for defensive lineman Alex Puccineli who was one of the state's top pass rushers this past season and knows how to get after the quarterback.
Marquee Player- Alvin Marshall
Sleeper- Charles Owens
The Rebels are bringing in a huge class but no one will have a bigger impact than running back Alvin Marshall. In fact, Marshall could have the biggest impact of any newcomer in the conference. He's a big time play maker running the ball as well as catching the ball out of the backfield and is an excellent pro prospect.
Quarterback Marcus Johnson is another player to watch. He's still somewhat raw as a pure passer but has excellent size, arm strength and athletic ability. Jay Staggs and Donnel Wheaton are a couple of players who signed a year ago but will enroll with the class of 2003. Staggs is an excellent possession receiver and Wheaton is a game breaker who runs very well after the catch. Offensive lineman Charles Owens has good size, strength and feet. He's not even close to reaching his full potential and has very nice upside.
6. NEW MEXICO
Marquee Player- Niam Adams
Sleeper- Cody Kase
The Lobos worked California hard and have a steal in linebacker Niam Adams. We didn't know a lot about Adams prior to the CaliFlorida Bowl but he was very impressive all week long. He's a big hitter and runs very well. We also like linebacker Cody Kase who flew way under the radar screen. Kase is a physical player who plays hard on every down. Another player we know will make an impact is athlete Jason Turner. We rated Turner as a fullback but he was brought in by the Lobos to play linebacker. Every team needs an enforcer and Turner is that type of player. He's physical, tough and nasty and is the kind of guy you hate to play against but love to have on your side.
On offense, quarterback Tye Butler is a solid player and has a chance to do some very nice things for the Lobos. He's a very accurate passer and has put up good numbers the past two seasons. Running back Marcus Smith is a big back who can run and has the size and athleticism to play a number of positions in college. On the offensive line, we think Bart Miller could be a good one. He has excellent size and could see the field early for the Lobos.
Marquee Player- Terrell Vinson
Sleeper- Andre LaCaille
It was a down year in the state of Wyoming this year but the Cowboys did well in both California and Colorado. Offensively, running back Terrell Vinson has been a standout the past three seasons but could make the jump to defense in college. He has excellent speed and could be an excellent cover corner. Zach Weidenaar is a sleeper prospect who has some ability and Ben Penfold is a solid offensive lineman.
Defensively, Andre LaCaille is a talented defensive back who was getting looks from several schools. He has excellent size for cornerback and very good speed. Defensive end Adam Diehl will need to put some weight on but he's a high motor guy who always plays hard. Yet another player from Colorado to watch is linebacker Luke Chase. Chase has prototype size and speed and could play any of the three ‘backer positions.