2005 Vandal Recruiting Update

With about a month left before National Letter of Intent (LOI) Day, the Vandals continue on their race down the recruiting trail. At the moment Idaho's recruiting class stands at 17 (which includes 5 gray shirts and 8 junior college transfers), including <b>JC ALL-AMERICAN</b> QB <b>Steve Wichman</b> of San Joaquin Junior College (Photo courtesy StocktonAthletics.com - Many thanks to Mark Godi).

This must be a relatively amazing position for the Vandal football team to be in at this stage of the recruiting season. With a little over a month remaining until Letter of Intent Day, the Vandal class of 2005 stands at 17 recruits. Among them are 5 mid-year HS signees (gray shirts who signed with Idaho last February), 8 junior college transfers (all are expected to enroll in January), and 4 new high school verbal commitments. What's more impressive, aside from already having 17 recruits, is that Idaho is in position to have 13 of them working with the team this spring (5 gray shirts and 8 JC transfers). THIRTEEN! Considering 2005 marks Idaho's first year as a full member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), the influx of young talent couldn't come at a better time.

To help keep track of how the recruiting roster is filling out by position, we've prepared our own customized recruiting chart which can be accessed at the link below:

2005 Vandal Football Recruits

So, to follow-up on information reported the last few weeks by Scout.com, a brief introduction is provided below for the 17 athletes who have either signed LOIs or verbally committed to Idaho (complete with links to each athlete's web page which is maintained by this site for each Vandal team member). Enjoy, and don't forget to make plans to come to Moscow to see the team during the annual Silver and Gold game at the end of April.


HIGH SCHOOL VERBAL COMMITMENTS


BILLY BATES
OL, 6-5, 270, Beaverton, OR (Southridge High School)

Billy is a mult-sport athlete who was among the first to sign with Idaho this recruiting season. Second year head coach Nick Holt and staff are converting the offensive line into a more mobile, athletic unit and Billy fits the mold. At the Palo Alto Nike Camp (May 2004), Billy recorded an impressive 4.81 – 40 (2nd fastest offensive lineman at the camp), 4.63 shuttle, and a 24 inch vertical leap. Listed by SuperPrep.com as the #6 prospect overall in the state of Oregon this year, Bates was a 2004 2nd Team All-State selection and earned 1st Team All Metro League honors as a senior. Athletics doesn't end with football either as Billy wrestles for Southridge. Last year he qualified for the Oregon State Championships in the 275 pound weight classification and was instrumental in Southridge winning its second consecutive Metro League Title. Billy is a 2-time Metro heavyweight Champion, and is currently ranked 5th in Oregon.


KELLEN BEAM
TE, 6-7, 225, Spokane, WA (Gonzaga Prep)

Idaho built a deep tightend depth chart throughout the 1990s, then saw that depth chart become decimated by injuries the last 4 years. Rebuilding this platoon continues this spring with the verbal commitment (and anticipated LOI) of Gonzaga Prep standout Kellen Beam. For 2004 Kellen caught 16 passes (3rd on the team behind 2 WRs) for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns, helping Gonzaga Prep to a date in the State Semifinals against eventual champion Evergreen and a 12-2 final season mark. A big, versatile target, Kellen is a 2-sport athlete at Prep where he also played on the basketball team.

ADAM SHAMION
LB, 6-2, 215, Post Falls, ID (Post Falls High School)

Idaho continues to mine the state of Idaho for Division 1-A talent, and in doing so received a verbal commitment from Post Falls star Adam Shamion this past summer - the first member of the 2005 class to verbally commit to Idaho. A 2-way starter for the Trojans, Adam was the ONLY North Idaho football player named a 1st Team All State athlete for any classification this year, earning 1st Team All-State Class 4A linebacker honors. "He really helped change things around, attitude wise," Post Falls coach Jerry Lee said. "He was one of, if not THE best, tight end in the state, and he was a great cover linebacker. He's a great athlete, and better than that, he's an inspirational leader." He was also named to the All North Idaho 1st-Team as both a linebacker and tightend, while also earning the Inland Empire League's Most Valuable Linebacker honor. Athletics doesn't end for Adam when the football season ends either. A wrestler for the Trojans, Adam helped lead Post Falls to a 4th place finish at State in 2004, and took 2nd place in the 215 pound weight classification.

EDDIE WILLIAMS
WR/LB, 6-2, 228, San Mateo, CA (Aragon High School)

The 6-foot-2, 228-pound Williams was a playmaker for Aragon, both offensively and defensively. Expected to get a look at Idaho as both an OLB and an H-back this fall, Eddie was named the All-SCVAL PAL-BAY Division Utility Player of the Year, while also earning 1st Team All-Bay Division honors at linebacker. He was instrumental in guiding the Aragon Dons to a 10-2 finish and a date in the Division Semi-Finals this year. Above all, he earned a reputation as having a knack for making the big plays in crunch time. In 2004 he finished with 22 receptions plus over 20 carries to score 10 touchdowns (roughly 6 points every 4 times he touches the ball). Of his 22 catches, 10 of them went for 20 yards or more. A three-year varsity member of the football squad, Williams was also on the varsity basketball and track and field teams last year. He runs the 4x100 relay and throws the shot put and discus. "Eddie is without a doubt the emotional leader of our team," Aragon coach Steve Sell said.


JUNIOR COLLEGE TRANSFERS (JANUARY ENROLLEES)


MATT ASKEW
WR 6-3, 200, St. Louis, MO (West Hills College)

One of 3 wide receivers recruited to Idaho this fall, Matt is one of 2 WRs in this group listed as a 3-star prospect by Scout.com (on a 5-star rating scale). Matt is also one of 2 prospects in this group that goes 6-3 and 200 pounds. Listed as running a 4.6 – 40, Matt brings a nice combination of size and speed which this coaching staff has publicly stated is an immediate priority for the team. The St. Louis (MO) native was a 2-way starter at DB and WR for Parkway High School, where he earned 2nd Team All Suburban Conference honors as a senior wide receiver in 2001 (caught 49 passes for 957 yards in 2000). Matt is expected to enroll at the UI in January, and will be working with the team throughout spring drills.


RYAN DAVIS
DT, 6-0, 270, Anaheim, CA (Orange Coast College)

One of the key units needing immediate assistance is the Vandal defensive line. Crushed by injuries and depth last season, the coaching staff has not hidden the fact that this platoon will be a priority in 2005. That's where Ryan comes in. As a sophomore at Orange Coast College in 2004 Ryan recorded 53 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups and 1 fumble recovery. The effort earned him 1st Team All-Mission Conference American Division honors for 2004. Expected to enroll at the UI in January, Ryan will be working with the team this spring and is expected to contribute immediately on the interior DL.


JASON MARTIN
CB, 5-9, 170, Pasadena, CA (Mt. San Antonio College)

One of 2 JC recruits in this class who signed with PAC-10 schools out of high school, Jason signed with the University of Arizona in 2002. He earned playing time that fall as a true freshman in the Wildcat cornerback rotation and as a kick returner. In 2003 he moved to wide receiver, but redshirted the season. With the coaching change at Arizona, Jason transferred to Mt. San Antonio College and earned 1st Team All Mission Conference honors in his one season at Mt SAC. A speedster with reported 4.4 speed, Jason is expected to join the program this spring and will be competing aggressively for playing time next fall.


MATT O'DONNELL
OL, 6-4, 288, Santa Clara, CA (San Jose College)

Idaho's second year coaching staff came to Moscow last year focused on reshaping the Vandal offensive line. That effort continues this year as the staff is going after prospects with a nice balance of size and mobility. A 6-4 athlete out of Santa Clara, Matt played tightend and outside linebacker in highschool at a svelt 6-4, 255. His list of highschool honors is impressive, including being named a 2-year Team Captain, 1st Team All Santa Clara Valley League, El Camino Division TE (2003), All-League and All-Peninsula honors (2002), and All League honors as a HS sophomore (2001). His senior year he recorded 237 receiving yards on 19 receptions with 4 TDs, plus 62 tackles and 9.5 sacks defensively. At San Jose College, he moved to the offensive line, bulked his frame up to 288 pounds, and immediately earned All Conference honors as a freshman. He is expected to join the Vandals in the spring, and will have 3 years eligibility remaining.


DANIEL SMITH
WR, 6-1, 210, Houston, TX (L.A. Pierce College)

One of two 3-star wide receiver prospects among this year's JC recruits, Daniel is expected to join the Vandals in January and work with the team in the spring. Voted a 2nd Team All-Western State Conference wide receiver for 2004, the Texas native had an impressive sophomore season. Among his 2004 highlights includes a single game performance in which he caught 4 passes for 125 yards and a pair of scores in a victory over East LA. For the 2004 season Daniel caught 43 passes for 785 yards and 4 TDs. During the summer of 2004 Smith trained at the JCFootball.com SoCal combine and reportedly was "looking smooth with good hands." Daniel will have 2 years to play 2 at Idaho.

ADRIAN SMITH
WR, 6-4, 190 (Compton College)

Admittedly, we don't know a ton about Adrian, but we know this: Dude's got jets. At 6-4 he reportedly runs a 4.5 - 40, which is moving for an athlete that tall. He enrolled at Compton College and played well enough as a freshman to be named an All Western States Conference honorable mention. For his sophomore season he planned to enroll at Canyons, but issues required that he re-enroll at Compton for his sophomore season. He reportedly will have 3 years to play 2 at Idaho.


TONE TAUPULE
LB, 6-1, 200, Long Beach, CA (L.A. Harbor College)

Since Coach Holt arrived on the Idaho campus a year ago, the focus has been on significantly upgrading Idaho's defensive speed. Enter Taupule, a swift linebacker (4.6 – 40) who signed originally with Oregon State University out of high school. After redshirting his freshman year, he left OSU when Dennis Erickson left the Beaver program, and enrolled at L.A. Harbor College. A 2-year defensive starter at Harbor, he earned 2nd-Team All Conference honors each year. As a senior in high school in the Los Angeles area, he was named to the LA Times All Area Team in 2001. Tone is expected to join the Vandal program in the spring and compete at outside linebacker.


STEVE WICHMAN
QB, 6-3, 215, Tracy, CA (San Joaquin Delta College)

Quarterback Steve Wichman is the first 4-star prospect to sign with Idaho this recruiting season. Why is Wichman a 4-star prospect (Scout.com utilizes a 5-star rating system)? Several reasons. First, Steve was named last fall to the JC-GRIDWIRE All-American Team (honorable mention). Second, Steve earned 1st Team All Conference honors EACH of the last 2 years, and this season was named the Mission Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He also earned MVP honors in Delta's Bowl Game this year, and ended 2004 having completed 240 passes for 3,030 yards and 22 touchdowns. Expected to enroll at the U in January, Wichman will work with the team this spring in what could be a competitive battle for playing time next fall. As for why Wichman picked Idaho, he said, "Idaho's staff was in place and I really like quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith. I feel that I can learn a lot from him." (Photo courtesy StocktonAthletics.com)


GRAY SHIRTS (JANUARY ENROLLEES)

Peter Bjorvik
Tightend
6-4, 225 Pounds
Prineville, OR

School: Crook County High School (Cowboys)
Career Honors:
  Honorable Mention, All-State Class 4A, TE (2003)
  Honorable Mention, All-State, 4A, DE (2003)
  1st Team, All-Intermountain Convference, TE (2003)
  1st Team, All-Intermountain Convference, DE (2003)


Summary:
With the loss of a couple senior tightends in Brian Yarno and Willie Sipoloa, Idaho's tightend depth chart just got significantly younger. Enter Oregon high school product Peter Bjorvik as the Vandals look to fill the void in 2005.

The 6-4 senior earned All-State honors on both sides of the ball in 2003, and also earned 1st Team All-Conference honors offensively and defensively. Peter rarely came off he field, and he ended the year the team's leading receiver. Offensively, Bjorvik's best game of the season came in a loss against eventual IMC champion Bend when he had seven catches for 94 yards. He also hauled in five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Pendleton.

Whether Peter will see playing time next year as a freshman remains to be seen, but this 3 sport star (who also averaged a team-best 14.1 points per game in 2003 for his HS basketball team) will very likely his shot. If not next year, then certainly shortly afterwards.



T.J. Conley
Quarterback
6-3, 190 Pounds
Walla Walla, WA

School: DeSales High School
Career Honors:
  Player of the Year, Class B-11 (2003)
  Washington State's No. 2 All-Time Passer (10,147 yds)
  1st Team AP All-State, Class B-11, QB (2003)
  1st Team All Southeast Conference, QB (2003)
  1st Team AP All-State, Class B-11, QB (2002)
  1st Team All-Southeast Conference, QB (2002)

Summary:
Idaho quarterback recruit T.J. Conley had an impressive career at DeSales High School, a Catholic school in Walla Walla, WA. This is the same high school that Idaho QB Brian Lindgren attended, and the parallels between the 2 are uncanny. Both Brian and T.J. are No.1 and No. 2 all-time in the Washington High School record books for passing yards in a career, and both are the ONLY Washington preps to pass for over 10,000 yards in a career. Both took their team's to the state championship before signing with Idaho.

T.J. has been a starter at DeSales since he was a freshman, taking over a year after Lindgren left to join the Vandals. Conley became the second Washington quarterback to throw for 10,000 yards in his career during the Irish's state semifinal win over Wahkiakum. However, he broke his leg in the first quarter of the state final against Reardan, and the team was unable to complete the Championship run without him.

For 2003 he ended the year with 35 touchdowns on 186 of 307 passing for 3,011 yards. He ended up throwing an impressive 125 touchdowns for his career.

T.J. is one of 2 QBs in this class and the only high school prospect (at the moment). He will be joining a unit headed by senior Michael Harrington and QB coach Jonathan Smith.





Tracy Ford
Wide Receiver / Defensive Back
5-8, 170 Pounds
Bellevue, WA

School: Bellevue High School (Wolverines)
Career Honors:
  1st Team, All-State Class 3A, DB (2003)
  Honorable Mention, All-State Class 3A, RB (03)
  1st Team, All-Kingco League, CB (2003)
  2nd Team, All-Kingco League, RB (2003)


Summary:
If Coach Holt was looking for a player with serious speed and agility, he found it in Bellevue High runningback / defensive back Tracy Ford. Described as "tenacious" in at least one Seattle-area newspaper, in 2003 alone Tracy amassed over 1792 yards rushing on over 156 carries for 22 touchdowns (not counting the State Championship game), and he wasn't even the "featured" back. In the playoffs Tracy stepped it up even more, amassing 192 yards on 17 carries for 2 TDs in a SINGLE playoff game. His Bellevue Wolverines went on to win their 3rd consecutive State title (Tracy's first, having played his sophomore and junior seasons at Decatur High School).

Its not often that a player makes the All-State selection on BOTH sides of the ball, but Tracy did just that in 2003. He made headlines on offense (2nd Team All-State), but did some of his biggest talking on D, where he was named 1st Team All-State as a defensive back.

Per a report by TheInsiders, Tracy will be given a shot early (likely this year) as a slotback and Special Teams weapon. With reported 4.4 speed, he has as good a shot as anyone to get things going this fall.

LINK: Seattle Times Spotlight Article on Tracy Ford

LINK: Seattle Times Article on Bellevue High





Brandon Nystrom
Safety
6-2, 190 Pounds
Junction City, OR

School: Junction City High School
Career Honors:
  Class 3A Player of the Year (2003)
  1st Team All-State, Class 3A, RB (2003)
  1st Team All-State, Class 3A, DB (2003)
  1st Team, All-Sky-Em League, RB (2003)
  1st Team, All-Sky-Em League, DB (2003)
  2nd Team All-State, Class 3A, DB (2002)
  3rd Team All-State, Class 3A, RB (2002)
  Sky-Em League Offensive Player of the Year (2002)

Summary:
If there is one player packing more accolades on this year's recruiting class than anyone else, it just might be Brandon Nystrom. He was the state of Oregon's 2003 Class 3A Player of the Year, and was named 1st Team All-State on offense and defense. On the season, he rushed for 1,799 yards, had 582 yards in receptions, and scored 30 touchdowns. Defensively, he had five interceptions, forced four fumbles and recovered four fumbles. He fell just short of being a large part of his teams quest for a state championship, falling to eventual champ Marist in the semi's.

He's also packing about a 3.75 GPA, according to The Oregonian, and plans to study business, according to The Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

From the Moscow-Pullman Daily News article: "I really enjoyed my time there," said Nystrom on his campus visit. "I was really impressed by the coaching staff ... and people that we met. (Holt) is the kind of guy who I want to play for."

As is the theme in this year's class, Brandon is a versatile prospect who is expected to begin his career at safety, but could play multiple positions for Idaho.





Devon Sturdivant
Runningback
5-11, 195 Pounds
Boise, ID

School: Timberline High School
Career Honors:
  2nd Team All-Idaho (2003)
  1st Team All Conference (2003)
  District III East-West Shrine Game (scored TD)
  #69 Northwest Prospect by TheInsiders ('03)

Summary:
Can you ever really have too much depth at runningback? No, you can not, as evidenced last season at Idaho. Idaho went into 2004 with a stable of 5 young runningbacks, but by the season finale at Hawaii Idaho was forced to move TE Willie Sipoloa to RB to cover for the losses due to injury. So, on the surface it may "look" like an overstocked platoon (returners Jason Bird, Rollie Lumbala, and Antwaun Sherman top the list), but an athlete of Sturdivant's caliber has the potential to come in and make noise immediately.

Devon was the FIRST high school athlete to sign with new Vandal head coach Nick Holt in 2003. As a senior he was voted the Idaho Statesman's 2nd Team All State runningback, and was also voted a 1st Team All Conference selection. He rushed for 1,228 yards and 14 TDs on 172 carries as a senior, and was invited to participate in the East-West Shrine Game where he scored a TD.

As a junior in 2002, Devon recorded 129 carries in 8 games for 902 yards and 9 touchdowns. For his career he notched 3 TD runs greater than 70 yards, was All-conference as a RB and team Offensive MVP as a senior, plus was a two-year letterwinner in wrestling and track.





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