Idaho Preps With FCS Potential

Big Sky Recruiting of The State of Idaho

The State of Idaho has been steadily growing as a High School Football recruiting ground for College Football. Idaho has produced some phenomenal FBS talents in recent times like Taysom Hill, Leighton Vander Esch, Shea McClellin, Taylor Kelly and Tanner Mangum. We also just had a guy like Jonah Elliss out of Moscow High be highly recruited and looks to possibly be the next NFL guy from the state of Idaho.

But for everyone of those guys, there are so many talented individuals coming from Idaho. I worked with Justin Jackson, the founder of Rare Academy ID, to identify some guys that have FCS potential. Even a few I was cautious to post about. According to Justin, there are some SERIOUS sleepers in this years class.

Big Sky schools are starting to notice the talent in the state as well. There are 72 players from the state currently on a Big Sky roster for the 21-22 season. Maybe the more important stat, the blue bloods of the conference have taken notice.

Big Sky Schools # of Idaho Players
Cal Poly0
Eastern Washington2
Idaho19
Idaho State29
Montana4
Montana State6
Northern Arizona0
Northern Colorado0
Sacramento State0
Southern Utah0
UC Davis1
Weber State11
TOTAL72

Weber State has won the Big Sky 4 years in a row now and in 2019 made the FCS semi-finals. They have 11 players from the State of Idaho. This includes 2x All-Conference and current Preseason All-Conference Junior George Taralas from Borah High in Boise.

Montana State also has dipped their toe in the Idaho waters when head coach Jeff Choate was at the helm. The St. Maries kid and former BSU assistant knew the gems in the gem state. Tucker Rovig of Mountain View led them under center to the semi-finals of the 2019 FCS Playoffs.

Another former Bronco, UC Davis head ball coach Dan Hawkins has been recruiting the Treasure Valley pretty heavy since taking the helm for the Aggies. He may not have won many of the recruiting battles, but he offers a healthy amount of Idaho kids.

FCS PROSPECTS

Over the course of a couple phone calls and a few of the RARE Academy Idaho camps we has compiled a list of guys in the state that are FCS Prospects.

RARE Academy Idaho is an all-year training academy for kids throughout the whole state. This is not only physical training, but they do alot to help with the mental side of being an athlete and making the move to the college environment. Like many of you, Justin and his team see the potential growing in this State and just want to help these kids get the offers they are capable of. Then have the tools to succeed physically and mentally once on campus.

If you have never checked them out, you should. Its more of a have to see it to believe it. What they do for recruits in this State is amazing and one of a kind. They are only going to continue to grow and help your sons, nephews, neighbors be recognized and preforming at their peak.

The have a staff of former FBS players including Idahos own Brady Strodtbeck who cleared holes for Vandal running backs during the 2016 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Some are borderline FBS guys, others could be PWO/D2 type guys. But this is the crop of dudes to keep your eye on and go see if their team is in your area this season.

PlayerPositionSchool
Davis ThackerWRMeridian
Ethan MikitaWREagle
Kade ThompsonWRRocky Mountain
Trais HigginsWRNampa
Ethan CastilloWRCapital
Garret LavinWRTimberline
Jackson MasonWRRocky Mountain
Gavin CappsWRJerome
Fisher ClementsTEMt.View
Isaiah SawyerTEMt. View
Will VailTEMelba
Gage JonesSEagle
Adam BallRBSt. Regis
Cross AntonnacchiRBMeridian
Taylor MarcumRBTimberline
Brett SpencerQB Weiser
Tiger AdolphoQBRigby
Carter FortinQBCole Valley
Malakai MartinezQBMeridian
Kaimen PeeblesQBSouth Freemont
Owen ToledoOLRocky Mountain
Gunnar ClarkOLMountain Home
Talin TogiaiOLRigby
Seth KnotheLBBishop Kelly
Caden KelleyLBRocky Mountain
AJ EdwardsLBRocky Mountain
Garrett McKennaLBMountain View
Jackson BergerLBCDA
AJ EdwardsLBRocky Mountain
Landyn YoungDLRocky Mountain
Liam ReevesDLTimberline
Jaxson WashingtonDLCDA
Deion TawzerDLRigby
Charles JudyDLSkyview
Jackson BeckDLMountain View
Aiden WhippleDLMountain View
Zachary ClarkDBPost Falls
Alameen AbimdolaDBMountain View
Casey CopeATHVallivue
Tao JohnsonATHThunder Ridge

There is loads of talent on this list. But there are a couple guys I want to highlight. Particularly in terms of Idaho going after them. I’m going to spotlight a few in no particular order.

Adam Ball 6’0 200lbs RB #17 St. Regis

I know this could be looked at as cheating since St.Regis the town is technically in Montana. But it is a border town and Adam is attending the RARE Academy Idaho showcases. He is not just attending, he is preforming. When Justin talks about this kid, you hear it in his voice. He is something special. He is the reason something like RARE exists.

If there is one name to take away from this piece. It is Adam Ball. Justin speaks so highly of this guy I am planning on attending a St. Regis game in person this season. (Scroll down for a list of MUST catch games this fall). Ball has been a standout at every event and is still under the radar. Almost, so much so, I just wanted to leave him off the list and just text our coaches about offering this kid. I just couldn’t not mention him, he deserves the recognition and WILL BE the steal of this class.

Davis Thacker 6’3 205lbs WR # 6 Meridian

Davis is the brother of Damen Thacker who just started 23 games for the Vandal hoops team. We know Paul Petrino is always talking about “family”. He loves recruiting sons, brothers, nephews of coaches, former players etc. Damen Thacker did transfer out and was apart of a different athletics program, but this is a move I would not be surprised to see our athletic department make.

Davis currently does not have any offers.

Taylor Marcum 6’0 185lbs RB #21 Timberline

If you follow prep football, this one is obvious. Taylor Marcum is one of the highly recruited guys in the state. In fact on July 18th he committed to Montana State. But, we have seen recently verbals change before NSD. He has an offer from the Vandals and Idaho is building a bit of a pedigree of giving in-state RBs playing time. Lets not forget the first play of the 2019 season against Penn State, Paul put in true freshman Nick Romano RB from Rocky Mountain and threw the ball to him. He is not afraid to say RBs from the state of Idaho are big time.

Garret Lavin 6’1 180lbs WR #19 Timberline

Yes, back to back Timberline guys. But, me myself, I am a Timberline guy. “The strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”

Garrett is another legacy type guy. He comes from a Vandal family and just a guy I would love to see be given a shot. Even if our receiver room is getting crowded.

He does not currently have any offers.

Gage Jones 6’1 185lbs DB Eagle

Likely the best defensive back in the State, Gage is poised to have one heck of a season. With a few seasons now of poor secondary play. Getting this local stud would go along way to sure up the backend.

Jaxson Washington 6’1 260lbs DL #78 Couer D Alene

The kid is just one of those grinders. He has got a gym in the garage at home and from looks of it has spent some time with his second cousin Washington States star RB Max Borghi. He also is a very good wrestler, which is a extra bonus in a lineman. He also won the RARE Showcases events top 6 lineman honors.

The Vikes have put out loads of division one talent in the past decade. It is a program you trust. Our defensive line isn’t getting any younger. We should be looking to add 2 to 3 guys on the line in this class.

He currently has 3 offers from a few NAIA and such schools, some sort of offer from the Bengals in Pocatello. But looks to be getting looks from and Montana. His father is a former walk-on and they are a big Griz Family. They have been exposed to the Vandals and we could get him, but if Montana offers (especially before us) it would be hard to win this recruiting battle.

Malakai Martinez 6’0 180lbs QB #3 Meridian

Maybe a bit under the radar until recently. He is starting to show-up everywhere. He was one of if not the first QB Justin gave me. Then on August 8th he was announced the 6th best QB in The Northwest 9 the QB camp former guest of the podcast Taylor Barton runs.

Right now has no offers, I know Idaho has brought in the likes of CJ Jordan, Gevani McCoy and MacCloud Crowton. But you can never have too many QBs.

Hayden Klincheloe 5’10 215lb RB #23 Homedale

This one is a me pick. I watched Hayden in 3A state semis and final last season. He was hard not to notice. I turned to my friend I was in attendance with and said “this is the type of kid Idaho needs to offer.” I later learn he comes from a deep vandal family.

Feedback I got throught the grapevine is his speed is a concern. Well, if you can’t tackle him it doesn’t really matter does it?!

Hayden Klincheloe in State Playoffs Photo By: Chris Hammond

Games To Catch FCS Talent

For some of you football nuts out there, you want to catch these guys before they may suit up for or against the silver and gold in the coming years. I compiled a list of games to catch to watch some of this FCS talent under friday night lights around this beautiful state.

Week 1

Treasure Valley

Mountain View vs Meridian – Meridian,ID (Mountain View, HS)

  • 9 possible FCS guys

Capital vs Nampa – Boise, ID (Donnar Larson Park)

  • 1 Possible FCS guy

Eagle vs Bishop Kelly – Boise, ID (Bishop Kelly HS)

  • 3 possible FCS guys

Magic Valley

Buhl vs Weiser – Buhl, ID

  • 1 Possible FCS guy

Twin Falls vs Vallivue – Twin Falls, ID

  • 1 Possible FCS guy

Week 2

Spokane-CDA Area

Lakeside vs St. Regis – Plummer, ID

  • 1 Possible FCS STUD

Treasure Valley

Rocky Mountain vs Mountain View – Meridian, ID (Rocky Mountain HS)

  • 13 Possible FCS guys

Nampa vs Skyview – Nampa, ID (Skyview HS)

  • 3 Possible FCS guys

Idaho Falls

Rigby vs Post Falls – Rigby, ID

  • 5 Possible FCS guys

Week 3

Spokane-CDA Area

Koontenai vs St.Regis – Harrison, ID

  • 1 possible FCS STUD

Treasure Valley

Rocky Mountain vs Meridian – Meridian, ID (Rocky Mountai HS)

  • 11 Possible FCS guys

Week 4

Spokane-CDA Area

Clark Fork vs St. Regis – Clark Fork, ID

  • 1 Possible FCS STUD

Post Falls vs Mount Si (WA) – Post Falls, ID

  • 2 Possible FCS guys

Magic Valley

Thunder Ridge vs Rigby – Twin Falls (Thunder Ridge HS)

  • 4 Possible FCS guys

Week 5

Treasure Valley

Skyview vs Rocky Mountain – Nampa, ID

  • 10 Possible FCS guys

Melba vs Cole Valley – Melba, ID

  • 2 Possible FCS guys

Week 6

Treasure Valley

Eagle vs Timberline – Eagle, ID

  • 5 Possible FCS guys

Meridian v Skyview – Meridian, ID

  • 5 Possible FCS Guys

Week 7

Treasure Valley

Timberline vs Rocky Mountain – Boise, ID (Donna Larson Park)

  • 11 Possible FCS guys

Skyview vs Eagle – Nampa, ID (Skyview HS)

  • 4 Possible FCS guys

Magic Valley

Canyon Ridge vs Mountain Home – Twin Falls (Canyon Ridge HS)

  • 1 Possible FCS guy

Week 8

Treasure Valley

Homedale vs Weiser – Homedale, ID

  • 2 Possible FCS guys

Vallivue vs Bishop Kelly – Caldwell, ID (Vallivue HS)

  • 2 Possible FCS guys

Timberline vs Skyview – Boise, ID (Donna Larson Park)

  • 5 Possible FCS guys

Spokane-CDA

Coeur d’Alene v Post Falls – Coeur d’Alene, ID

  • 4 Possible FCS guys

Idaho Falls

Sugar-Salem vs South Fremont – Sugar City, ID

Week 9

Treasure Valley

Rocky Mountain vs Meridian – Meridian, ID (Rocky Mountain HS)

  • 11 Possible FCS guys

*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer 

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Fixing Idahos Future Schedule

The Big Sky Conference did fans and schools a huge favor last year by releasing the future conference schedules through 2023. Benefiting the schools, by now knowing exactly what dates they have open to schedule out of conference opponents.

For Idaho fans, this is a bit of a downer. You will notice there are not many out of conference games that catch the eye. Even less will be beneficial towards a playoff appearance. I will grade each current schedule, then provide my realistic fixes to each season.

2020 Schedule

Schedule-2020Since the 2020 season kickoff, is in only 7 months, the schedule is set in stone. week 1 Idaho opens the season against a division 2 side in Western Oregon. The week 2 Temple game is a return trip from the 2013 independent season when Idaho hosted the owls and went on to win the game 26-24. The Vandals wrap up in Week 3 with the Battle for the Palouse. This game is a replacement game for the canceled 4 game series made with San Jose State. Who pulled out because of Idaho’s move to the FCS.

Current Grade: C+

Idaho did the best with what they had on short notice. Getting Washington State to pay $550,000 to drive eight miles is an A+. However not getting out of a temple game from 2013 is a C-. Then the Western Oregon game is a D. The conference schedule paired with the Washington State game, the Vandals will leave the Palouse once in eight weeks. During the season Idaho only travels to Philadelphia, Davis California, Pullman Washington, Cheney Washington, Bozeman Montana, Pocatello Idaho. That’s likely only 2 flights. Far removed from the Sun Belt days.

How To Fix it:

Too little too late. But the division 2 game against Western Oregon is a drag to see. At least it only costs Idaho $80,000. Meaning the out of conference schedule will net Idaho $470,000. That helps the budget.

2021 Schedule

In 2021 Idaho opens at home vs Canadian side Simon Fraser. Back-to-back years with week 1 division 2 or lower team to start the season.Then pack their bags for week 2 body bag game against Big Ten program Indiana (will see them again). Closing out the non-conference schedule with another power five game in Corvallis against Oregon State.

Current Grade: C

Any division 2 or lower game from this year forward is to be met with a grade of an F. Idaho needs division 1 wins to qualify for the playoffs. In a conference as tough as the Big Sky. Indiana is an interesting power five game. It isn’t local, but it isn’t bad. Indiana isn’t exactly a world beater, this could be winnable power five program for Idaho. The Hoosers did go 9-0 against the FCS last decade. Indiana is paying Idaho 1.2 Million to go to Bloomington with a outside chance to win. That’s an A- grade for scheduling. To close out the out of conference schedule, Idaho gets to play the Beavers. Arguably, the worst Pac 12 program in the previous decade. A winnable, local power five game, that will pat the coffers with an additional $675,0000. This will get an A+.

Unlike 2020, the Big Sky did Idaho no favors in conference. Idaho will have a bye week in week 4. The Vandals will then have four weeks before they are back in the friendly confines of the Kibbie Dome. Followed by more road games. When week 9 rolls around it will only be the third home game of the year and only second vs division 1 competition.

The budget will be helped by netting 1.875 million before paying Simon Fraser $80,000.

How To Fix It:

Schedule-2021Nothing needs to be done with Oregon State & Indiana. The payouts and winablility of these games are perfect. Even if the Indiana game is an odd match-up. The real trick here is copying what the Vandals pulled off in 2019, with scheduling Eastern Washington out of conference. Due to the Big Sky having protected rivals every three years Idaho will not play Idaho State in the “Battle Of The Domes”. Tubs at The Club has been very vocal on this Issue that Idaho & Idaho State needs to become a rivalry game.

Putting this game week 1 would be a good move. Idaho can do better. The FCS has a weekend all to itself called “Week 0”. The highlight that weekend is the Guardian FCS Kickoff game. Instead of Austin Peay vs Central Arkansas (2020) or Samford v Youngstown State (2019). What if the game featured two In-state rivals? In 2020 the game is to be played in Pocatello & in 2022 it is to be played in Moscow. Creating a conundrum for a 2021 match-up.

Two solutions

First is the winner of the overall battle of the domes in 2020 gets to host the game and repeat this every three years when game is off the schedule. Split the revenue 50/50 after reimbursing travel to road team and operating cost of the host team.

The other options is a bit more controversial. Play it in Boise. Its 235 Miles from Pocatello & 295 Miles from Moscow. Boise is both schools largest alumni base. There is bound to be the “No way we are stepping on that blue field to give Boise State the satisfaction” agruement. I have previously mentioned this will be almost an insult to them if both Schools can sell out Bronco Stadium. Something they have seldom done recently. A nuetral stadium is on the way if the City of Boise can ever get out of their own way in building a beautiful new stadium. This is only going to be an issue every three years.

Get this game on ESPN for Week 0 and showcase The State, The Conference & The FCS level of football.

2022 Schedule

Kicking the Season off with a rivalry game in Pullman. For more money than they paid us in 2020. Then the Vandals return to Bloomington Indiana for the second time in as many years. This time collecting 1.3 Million Dollars. Then Idaho plays its first lower tier FCS program in the newly released schedules, Drake. In 2022 Idaho will play all Division 1 opponents for the first time since 2017.

It is a well spaced out schedule for home games, road games and a mid-season bye week.

Current Grade: B+

Schedule-20222022 currently is the year Idaho gets paid more, to do the same. A+

Anytime Idaho can get Washington State on the schedule every couple of years it is a positive. This is the type of Power five game Idaho should be scheduling. Ideally in a decade Idaho will play Washington State 3-4 times. The Likes of a Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Colorado, Utah each once. Then a bigger game like Texas A&M, Penn State, LSU or Florida State once just to have the experience.

Indiana is paying Idaho $100,000 more to come play them again in 2022 then they did in 2021. Most would assume this game to be favorable in 2022. More so with a previous appearance in Bloomington just 12 months prior. Grade this game an A.

The Big Skys whacky scheduling means no Montana State this season. That earns a D. Not the Athletic Departments fault, but it is what it is.

How To Fix It:

Drake is what drags this schedule down to a B+. Idaho should be scheduling low tier FCS teams to help with playoff qualification. Problem with the Drake game, Idaho is paying Drake $250,000 to come play in the Kibbie Dome. Taking a large bite out of the Washington State & Indiana earnings. Idaho should try and schedule these types of games as home & homes. Keeping the profit made from bodybag games.

The other change. Find a way to make the games marketable. The fanbase will be as fired up for the Drake game as they were for Western New Mexico State in 2018. Joining the Big Sky-Missouri Valley Challenge would be fun for the fanbase. Might even help with some of the steadfast FBSers. What better school to participate against in Idahos first go at the challenge than the Bobby Petrino led Missouri State Bears? Idaho is in need of a home game to complete the schedule. Putting the first meeting in the Kibbie Dome. The place where Bobby Petrino spent three seasons as QB coach and Offensive Coordinator from 89-91. Before Paul Petrino came to coach WR,QB & RBs from 92-94. Later taking the role as Head Ball Coach in 2013. They have never coached against each other and this would put people in the seats & eyes on the TV.

If Missouri State is not open to the idea. Montana State has week 3 open.

2023 Schedule

Schedule-2023The first year where the Vandals have a true opening where they can pick anyone. As the schedule stands now, the Vandals have no opponents for week 1 or week 3.  Expect a team to be named shortly. Then the Vandals play in Reno Nevada against a former Big Sky and WAC foe in University of Nevada-Reno. Then in week 8 Idaho will face Dixie State in St.George Utah. Who will be a full fledge FCS member, counting as a division 1 game.

Current Grade: A-

Overall a great schedule. Play a former conference rival for the 30th time in the Nevada Wolfpack. In a very fun place for fans to travel to. A+.

You play what should be a lower tier local FCS squad in Dixie State in Moscow. The start of a 3 games series with the Trailblazers. The Big Sky helps out by giving equal spacing between home and away games. It all comes down to Idaho not messing it up by scheduling a bad opponent in week 3 causing a week 1 bye week.

How To Fix It:

Change nothing in the actual schedule except attempt to schedule Dixie State week 3 opening up a later season bye week. Then per my 2022 schedule suggestions return the favor on the home & home with Missouri State in week 1 (currently open)

Bobby Petrino left Western Kentucky after 1 year and the Atlanta Falcons after just 13 games in the middle of the season. The odds he is still coaching at Missouri State in three seasons are slim.

Even Paul Petrino is up in the air at the moment to be at Idaho in 2022. His contract is through 2023. However, is on the hot seat. The 2022 season is the first real strong possibile season he could be fired. If he doesn’t start winning. 2022 is when the amount he would be owed would be reasonable.

Leaving the chance that neither Petrino is at their current job for even the 2022 game. Let alone the 2023 game. Even without one or both of the Petrinos. Missouri State is the type of team Idaho needs to start scheduling if they want to return to being a top flight Big Sky team and perennial playoff contender.

2024, 2025 & Beyond

The Big Sky hasn’t released conference schedules for these years yet. The Vandals do know in 2024 they travel to Dixie State and Oregon. Then host Dixie State and then “Travel” To the Battle of the Palouse. Everything this far out is subject to change.

In Review

Understand the unique position Idaho is in. The Vandals schedule problems are caused by the 2013 independent season. Then compounded upon with move from FBS to FCS.

The suggestions made were realistic changes. Not fantasy changes impossible for Terry Gawlik (Idaho Athletic Director) to deliver. The current scheduling issues are not her decisions. These games were scheduled before she had taken office. The only two scheduling announcements while Gawlik has be the Athletic Director (2022 Drake 2023 Nevada & Dixie State Series). Both announcements were ideal additions to the schedule. The ultimate goal for 2023 is a balanced athletics budget. Allowing future scheduling to be more open, minimize travel, but maximize payouts. The Ideal realistic schedule 2024 and on is Pac 12 School, winnable Mountain West school & home and home with a lower tier FCS program.