Committed over: Offers from Buffalo, Florida A&M, SE Missouri. Interest from Missouri, UNLV, MTSU, Tennessee, Michigan, Michigan State and Cal.
When Fresno State football coach Jeff Tedford analyzed the team he is inheriting, he identified the cornerback position as one of the immediate needs for the 2017 team. The Bulldogs could not have asked for a much better prospect to fill the void than Matthew Boateng.
Boateng is a former Power-5 talent (Kansas) and after expending another year at the junior college level, demand was not as high as expected. The unrated recruit with offers from Buffalo, Florida A&M and SE Missouri became a three-star recruit after committing to Fresno State by Scout’s evaluation. The Bulldogs also get the added benefit of having Boateng in for spring practice.
Fresno State had a nearly identical recruit in Vosean Crumbie who committed to the Bulldogs and then gained a three-star rating. However, because Crumbie was not a December grad, he explored his options and gained offers from Oregon State and Nevada after committing to the Bulldogs - eventually choosing Nevada. The development makes Boateng’s addition even that much more important. Had Boeteng had another month of recruiting, the Bulldogs might have been poached twice.
On the field, look for Boateng to get a crack at first-team reps as early as this spring. The only returning Bulldogs with significant experience at the position include Tank Kelly, JuJu Hughes and Mike Bell. Boateng’s greatest competition could be fellow incoming mid-year junior college cornerback Sherman Coleman. However, Scout.com recruiting analysis would suggest that Boateng is the better prospect as a three-star recruit compared to Coleman as a two-star recruit.
In four years, Boateng went from high school in Canada, to a national prep school power in Florida - IMG Academy, to Kansas University, to Arizona Western College. If Boateng becomes a success, Fresno State could take his story to recruit future athletes in Canada - or even California athletes who are increasingly transferring to IMG Academy to get noticed on the recruiting trail.
On paper: Corey Ferguson - Looking back at Fresno State’s recruiting classes over the past 15 years, there haven’t been many three-star junior college cornerbacks. In fact, Ferguson and Boateng are the only two. Ferguson has offers from the likes of Cincinnati and Utah. Boateng didn’t have as many impressive offers, but was a bounceback from a Power-5. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Ferguson was dismissed before finishing his first fall camp. Look for Boateng to fulfill the type of impact that the Red Wave thought Ferguson would bring.
On film: L.J. Jones - When asked about Matthew Boateng, some of Tedford’s descriptions included “good man-to-man defense,” “he’ll come up and hit you,” and “good in run support” - all adjectives that made Jones a mainstay in the Bulldogs’ secondary in the early 2010’s.
On Boateng’s film, he does show good cover skills combined with a knack for pursuing running backs and receivers in front of him - at an impressive rate for a cornerback. Tedford also described Boateng as “rangy.” Boateng does have slightly more impressive measurables than Jones brought to the field.
“I’m an all-around defender,” Boateng explained of his game. “I play with my head on fire, that’s what my coaches tell me. I’m fearless, I play like I’m 200 pounds, but I’m really 180. I don’t care, I run through people. I’m a physical corner, I hit like a linebacker and can lock you down. I have an all-around skillset and I’m really confident in my skillset.”
Confidence will be key for Boateng to make an immediate impact - his experience at Kansas as a freshman should make for a smooth transition. The last time Fresno State saw a junior college athlete of Boateng’s caliber in the secondary was Curtis Riley, who although is making a career in the NFL, struggled mightily at times with the ‘Dogs.
“When I took my visit, I was really sold on it," Boateng said. "I would have to say the inside of the football facilities and all the history displayed on the walls, the trophies, it makes you feel like you’re apart of something greater than yourself and a team. Being apart of a big tradition. The tradition at Fresno is huge, bigger than I thought. The visit opened my eyes to everything - how big it really is. Being apart of that felt special. That’s what really got me.”
Fresno State is counting on Boateng to make a big impact and he sounds confident to take on the task. There are returners on the team and several high school recruits in the 2017 class expecting to compete for early playing time as well, but realistically, Boateng is the Bulldogs’ most likely shot at developing into a reliable cornerback this season.