The University of Oregon just finished within the top 10 of the 2019 recruiting cycle. To build on that success, the Ducks will need to build the 2020 class with defensive talent. A lot of that responsibility will be placed on new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos. So, that begs the question: what kind of a recruiter was he for the Broncos?
Boise State football was put on the national map in 2006 with Chris Petersen. In his first year as head coach, he led the Broncos to a 13-0 season and a 43-42 upset victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State finished the season ranked No. 5 in the final AP poll. At the time, Oregon’s Justin Wilcox was the defensive coordinator for the Broncos, leading the 14th-ranked defense in the country in yards allowed (274 yards per game).
Comparing Boise State’s Past Coordinators
The Boise State defensive coordinator position must be a great gig because each of the last four coordinators have had success after leaving Boise State. Wilcox (2006-2009) went on to bigger and better things and is currently the head coach at California.
After four years at Boise State, his successor Pete Kwiatkowski (2010-2013) followed Petersen to the University of Washington.
Marcel Yates (2014-2015), after two successful years as the Broncos’ DC, jumped to the Pac-12 in the same role for Rich Rodriguez at Arizona. After Rodriguez was fired in 2018, Yates was retained as DC by Kevin Sumlin. Now we come to Avalos, Boise State’s defensive coordinator from 2016-2018 and Oregon’s new hire.
Pop Quiz: What is the highest that Boise State has finished in national recruiting in the Petersen-Harsin era (2006 to the present)?
(See the answer below)
Recruiting at Boise State
If there is an area where Avalos runs circles around these other defensive coordinators, it’s the level of recruits he pulls in on the defensive side of the ball. I took all the recruits from Boise State over the last 10 to 15 years, pulled out all the defensive players and averaged their ranking. Then, I assigned that value to the defensive coordinator.
The reality is that when Avalos became defensive coordinator at Boise State, their recruiting on the defensive side of the ball immediately jumped 20% higher than the three DCs before him. Bam! Right away.
Boise State Defensive Players Average Recruit Rank (2006-present):
– 2.51-star average recruit rank for Wilcox (four years)
– 2.48-star average recruit rank for Kwiatkowski (four years)
– 2.51-star average recruit rank for Yates (two years)
– 2.96-star average recruit rank for Avalos (three years)
A 2.50 average recruit rank means that for every three-star athlete Boise State recruited, a two-star recruit was matched with him. You can see that the recruit rank jumps significantly under Avalos. The unique change that happened during Avalos’ time as defensive coordinator, and new to Boise State, is that for every two-star defensive recruit coming in, it was being matched with a four-star recruit and mingled with the normal three-star recruits. That’s an awesome development for talent acquisition on the defensive side of the ball for Boise State. Did Mario Cristobal know this before hiring him? It wouldn’t surprise me.
The Reality at Boise State
In the golden era of Boise State football, the Broncos never once averaged a 3.00-star recruit rank or higher across an entire recruiting class. Never. Their highest ranking as a team was 2.89-stars in 2010, and this is skewed considerably because that year, Boise State only had nine players in their recruiting class.
POP-QUIZ ANSWER: Boise State has never finished higher than No. 50 in team rankings for recruiting. In 2011, Boise State finished No. 53 (per Rivals.com) in the country, the watershed mark for the Broncos. This next one blew me away:
During Petersen’s tenure at Boise State, his teams averaged 2.44-stars per recruit across the board. Throughout all his years, Chris Petersen (92-12 at Boise State) had an annual recruiting class that averaged No. 70 in the nation year in and year out.
That’s doing a lot with a little, a similar thing that Mike Bellotti was doing at Oregon. With a little less consistency, Bellotti and the Oregon coaching staff had an average recruit rank of 3.07-stars (according to Rivals.com).
These were great coaches with great assistants. In many ways, the strengths of these two programs mirrored one another in the way they created other means for success, leading to greatness.
When we look at Avalos, he had two seasons at Boise State where the average recruit ranking was 3.00-stars on the defensive side of the ball, and the other season he averaged 2.89-stars per recruit. Avalos’ three-year average is 2.96-stars for defensive players only. This is considerably higher than the recruiting for the offensive side of the ball.
Avalos has essentially averaged the recruiting high mark for Boise State’s defense. Only one other coach matched, and even that result was skewed with just five defensive recruits. That’s a good sign for Oregon’s new defense and it suggests that Cristobal has done a deep dive in his coaching search and found a recruiting gem. Avalos’ resumé suggests that he was a home run hire.
What Do You Think of Our New DC?
What were your thoughts when Jim Leavitt was fired and Cristobal started looking for a new defensive coordinator? What do you think was emphasized during the interview process?
Now that you know he was a great recruiter at Boise State, how are you feeling about possible defensive recruits coming to Oregon, this year and in the future?
*Boise State, per 247Sports, finished at No. 50 in the 2019 team recruiting rankings, a first ever for the program; Rivals.com has Boise State No. 63 in the country this year.
Covington, Kentucky Top Photo from BroncoSportsFB Twitter
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.
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