Paul Petrino signs his fourth class as head coach of the University of Idaho today, attempting to build on a breakthrough 4-8 campaign in 2015.
It's expected to be his most high school-heavy signing class, with as many as 20 high school players joining the Vandals this afternoon.
The letters that are officially in will be updated below.
Signed, sealed and delivered Vandals
Fullback, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (CC) — 6-1, 251
The lowdown: Signed at the midyear. Herman will likely be given an ability to play right away, if not start, with the departure of three-year starter at fullback Jake Manley. Petrino expects Herman to play similarly to Manley, with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield
Petrino says: "He’s thick, he’s strong, very good blocker, very tough and aggressive. With losing Manley it’s something we needed to go out and find. He give us a great chance to continue to do the stuff we do in the running game ... Our fullback is an extension of the offensive line, they’re going to be a hard-nosed tough guy that’s going to get a lot of the dirty work. It does make it hard recruiting some individuals, Josh with his toolshed and what he does best fits right in to how we use our fullback."
Wide receiver, Coffeyville CC (Coffeyville, Kan.) — 6-1, 186
The lowdown: Despite interest from Bowling Green, Southern Mississippi and Troy, Onunwor inked with Idaho this signing class. He logged the second-most catches in the country for junior college players with 75, and 10 touchdowns, his sophomore season at Coffeyville Community College.
Petrino says: "He really can go up and high point the ball, definitely a skilled player who was out there and was interested in us, it was a great get ... You can go back to when I was here as an assistant, to Utah State, to Louisville, to Arkansas, if there’s one position we feel like we can go out and recruit, that’s receiver. In this offense, year in and year out you should be one of the top guys in the conference and definitely one of the top guys in the country … I show them tape of all the guys, there’s all different size and speed and they all have different traits, and there’s a chance there is someone we can show him."
Onunwor says: "My visit, they made me feel like home, they welcomed me with open arms. The offense, how they’re going to use me, I just felt that was right for me ... He showed me, the team’s highlight, he showed me the Auburn the game, showed me a few of the guys on the team right now and how they used those guys."
Center/Offensive guard, Fayetteville (Fayetteville, Ark.) — 6-3, 315
The lowdown: Signed at the midyear as the first high school player to enroll early since Petrino arrived. Was teammates with Petrino’s son and quarterback signee, Mason, as freshmen in Fayeteville. He projects as a center but can also play guard.
Petrino says: "I like that he can get out and run and pull, very athletic kid. Comes from a great program, most of the guys who come out of that program are successful in college ... He's a good center. We need to start recruiting somebody to replace (Steven Matlock) ... I don’t know if it was as much height as he’s got a great wingspan, he’s really strong and he’s also athletic and can get out and run, so that was every bit as important as his height."
Quarterback, Pullman — 5-11, 175
The lowdown: I wrote about Petrino's commitment here. Petrino will come in as a quarterback but be given a look at wide receiver if that's where opportunity arises. While he will come in and compete for playing time somewhere right away, it's likely he used his redshirt year to get his weight up from his soccer weight. He was also a standout defensive back at Pullman.
Petrino says: "He’s going to be a good football player and it’s kind of been a dream all my life to coach him some day, because I played for my dad and it was a great experience, it’s going to be a lot and I’m excited about it."
Wide receiver, Lakes (Lakewood, Wash.) — 6-2, 220
The lowdown: Hunter gave a verbal commitment to UTEP just days ago on his official visit to El Paso, but it's Idaho that ended up with his Letter of Intent this morning. Hunter played for Seattle/Tacoma area powerhouse Lakes. He is listed by several recruiting outlets as a linebacker, and certainly has the frame for it, but Idaho announced him as a receiver. He also chose Idaho over South Alabama and Montana State. He accumulated over 1,100 receiving yards for the Lancers last season. He said Idaho had been recruiting him hard through Lakes' run to the state 3A semifinal game. In that same Scout.com piece, he categorizes himself as a pass-rushing linebacker.
Petrino says: "He's a guy that came right down to the wire. Back and forth, back and forth. With us and UTEP. … You watch him and tape and you're like, 'Oh my god, how can he be that big and that athletic?' Great kid, has a great mom. Comes from a really good football program."
Tight End, Clarkston — 6-3, 220
The lowdown: Helped Clarkston make a turnaround into the state playoffs the last two seasons. Played defensive line and tight end at Clarkston. Also an accomplished wrestler. He caught four touchdown passes last season while playing with Idaho basketball signee Trevon Allen. He could also grow into either a fullback or BUCK linebacker.
Petrino says: "Was possibly going to go to one of the academies. Just a really good football player. Could possibly end up playing our BUCK also or end up growing into a fullback. State championship wrestler, great football player. Really excited about him."
Wide receiver, Clovis (Clovis, Calif.) — 6-0, 180
The lowdown: Idaho is the only listed offer for Wills according to the major recruiting services, but the receiver is listed as a 3-star prospect on Scout. The lack of interest may be in his reported speed, ESPN says he runs a 4.98 while Scout gives him a more favorable 4.65. But isn't there that whole thing about guys like Doug Baldwin not being very fast? It's all about route running, something Petrino specializes in coaching.
Petrino says: "His dad played at UCLA. … Came to our camp last year. Great kid … really outstanding mom and dad. And that was something this year, that when you go in and out of the homes, I said it to coach Cinkovich one time when we were driving from one house to the other, I said 'We're in a lot of nice homes.' Meaning nice homes as good parents. There was a bunch of really good people we went in and met and that probably makes me as excited about this class as anything, is just a great group of kids that are coming in here. Think it's the best class I've signed since I've been here and just a bunch of talent and it was nice to sign a bunch of high school kids, too. That made it real important."
Running back, Damien (Laverne, Calif.) — 5-10, 190
The lowdown: On the surface, this seems like a very significant get. Thigpen chose Idaho over Nevada and is rated 3-stars by Scout and 2-stars by Rivals. The running back competition is wide open and Petrino won't be afraid to play a freshman if Thigpen earns the playing time in fall camp. He'll join Denzal Brantley and Jack Bamis in the competition, both coming off redshirts because of injuries in their first seasons on campus.
Petrino says: "Obviously he has all kinds of — his uncle was a great player on his father's side of the family. His uncle on his mom's side of the family — they both were in Super Bowls. His brother played at UCLA and he's just got a great, he's a great running back. He can really cut, he has great vision. He can make that cut in the hole, come to balance."
Linebacker, Notre Dame Prep (Riverside, Calif.) — 6-1, 220
The lowdown: Son of the late Bryson Gardner, who joined for the Vandals from 1995 and won the Humanitarian Bowl in 1998. He will get to wear his father’s No. 10.
Petrino says: "Mom grew up in Lewiston, so it's kind of like halfway coming home for him. Really good football player. He's physical, good tackler. Really excited to get him."
Wayne Eades II
Defensive end, Memphis Central (Memphis) — 6-2, 255
The lowdown: The Vandals lost a significant defensive back commit from the city of Memphis, but went back to snag this defensive end. His frame is similar to former Vandal standout Maxx Forde.
Petrino says: "Kenny Holmes did a great job of recruiting him. Kenny has a couple former teammates that are down in the Memphis area that really helped get him and that's a great get to get the Player of the Year out of their conference to come to Idaho."
Linebacker, Morning Side (Inglewood, Calif.) — 6-1, 245
The lowdown: Played defensive end in high school but is listed by Idaho as a linebacker. Idaho will start him out as a middle linebacker but also see if he develops into a BUCK linebacker.
Petrino says: "He's big, he's physical, he can really run. Just a great kid ... I think Charles can run around, make tackles, he's very physical."
Defensive tackle, Tucker (Tucker, Ga.) — 6-0, 305
The lowdown: Not quite as big as what Ryan Edwards was playing at this season, but that's why these kids come in during the summer to lift. It's clear what role this big boy will be attempting to fill in the 3-4 defensive scheme of Mike Breske.
Petrino says: "Tucker's one of the best high school football programs in the state, in Georgia. Just loves the game, can really run, is really athletic, just flies around, is a great leader on the team. Tucker High School has a bunch of Division I players every year coming in out of their program and he was the leader of this team."
Defensive back, Chaparral (Temecula, Calif.) — 5-9, 180
The lowdown: Idaho was probably one more defensive back absence away from calling upon band members to defend opposing receivers last season. Hightower doesn't quite have the height Petrino desires at the position, but if the 4.52 40-yard dash time his Hudl lists is even remotely true then he'll have a chance to play right away.
Petrino says: "I don't know if anybody's watched his highlights, but he's just fantastic. HE can flat fly. Makes people miss. Good cover. He's been a guy I can see playing both ways for us. Playing receiver and then that nickel corner on third downs. He's just a big-time talent."
Safety, Cheney (Cheney, Wash.) — 6-0, 205
The lowdown: Despite his dad being associate head coach for Eastern Washington, Graham is taking his shot at playing FBS football with the Vandals. He is listed as a safety but will Petrino will have to decide whether or not to play him at linebacker.
Petrino says: "Ty is just a great tackler. I'm really excited to get him. I think one of the things you judge a defense by is how well their safeties tackle. And Ty can be a really good safety. He also can maybe play the SAM linebacker position where Kaden Elliss plays right now. He's a physical, really good tackler."
Defensive back, Auburn MountainView (Auburn, Wash.) — 6-0, 175
The lowdown: Located on the Lea Hill part of Auburn, Mountain View is becoming somewhat of a new and surprising athletic presence in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area. However, Daggs is one of the few Puget Sound presences in this recruiting class. Daggs has a combination of height and speed (listed 4.49 40-yard dash on Hudl) that Idaho desperately needs in its defensive backfield. Daggs could also get on the field in the return game.
Petrino says: "Really athletic. Played both receiver and DB, we're going to start him out at DB. Probably see his athleticism more at receiver. And he's really good at track, but he can catch and make people miss. But he's got good ball skills, ewhat you like is he can hit people on defense, too. So I feel like he can really help us there."
Safety, Noxubee County (Mason, Miss.) — 5-10, 190
The lowdown: While allowing 7.9 yards per completion last season was a major improvement on 2014, that and allowing 22 touchdown passes was still too much. More secondary reinforcements on the way with Barnett coming to Moscow via SEC country. Barnett played middle linebacker in high school. He has height comparisons to Kendrick Trotter and Armond Hawkins, both of whom played safety and both of whom came into Moscow about 15 pounds lighter than what Barnett is listed as.
Petrino says: "He's just a football-playing Jesse. I mean he'll run around and he'll hit you and he just loves the game. I just love everyhing about him. I like his personality ... He's the kind of a safety I've wanted forever. He'll come up and he'll knock you and he'll hit you and he'll do it again and again and he just loves to play the game."
Tarik Littlejohn (2015 Grayshirt)
Safety, Capital (Boise) — 6-3, 195
The lowdown: Enrolled on campus in January. His combination of size and speed may intrigue fans as a potential receiver (he set a school record for career yards), but Petrino wants to get faster on defense. Littlejohn can compare to Kaden Elliss when he adds more weight to his frame, but for now his combination of size and speed will be utilized at safety. Given injuries and depth, it shouldn't surprise if Littlejohn skips the redshirt and plays this season.
Petrino says: "We're going to start out at safety. So he's very athletic. He's tall, lanky. In the running and conditioning drills … very excited about him. Excited to see him in pads and see him move around."
Mytreal Denson (2015 Grayshirt)
Defensive tackle, Ed White (Jacksonville, Fla.) — 5-11, 270
The lowdown: Enrolled on campus in January. Another northern Florida talent joining the Vandals, Denson played both defensive tackle and strongside defensive end in high school. Spurned offers from FCS Samford and West Texas A&M to get his FBS opportunity at Idaho.
Petrino says: "He's got to lose a little bit of weight, came in a little bit out of shape. But very athletic, can really bend. He's flexible it looks like in the weight room."
Joe Wysocki (2015 Grayshirt)
Position: Tight End
School: Los Alamitos (Los Alamitos, Calif.)
Measurables: 6-3, 233
The lowdown: Enrolled on campus in January. Comes in with a more traditional tight end frame, compared to seniors Buck Cowan and Deon Watson who had to bulk up to the position from wide receiver frames. Wysocki may be given time to redshirt and develop at the position with Will Schmidt and Eric Lemke at the position as blocking tight ends.
Defensive end, Roosevelt (Corona, Calif.) — 6-3, 250
The lowdown: Reportedly spurned offers from San Jose State and Wyoming to sign with the Vandals. He's listed as anywhere from 235 to 250 pounds. Played the weakside defensive end role in high side.
Petrino says: "You watch his highlights and he's just really physical. There's one tape where he runs through the defensive end. Runs through the running back, hits the quarterback. Plays with really good pad level. Uses his hands really well."
Defensive tackle, Jones County JC (Miss.) — 6-1, 300
The lowdown: Signed with Troy out of high school. His high school coach seemed to indicate he had a lot of SEC interest out of high school. It's unclear why he left Troy. Spent the last two seasons at Jones County CC. Could be looked at as the immediate replacement for Ryan Edwards while the high school recruits at the position take time to develop.
Petrino says: "Really announced him at mid-year, too, but he had to finish one more class, so he'll come in this summer ... He's just a big, physical kid. Definitely will come in here and compete to play a bunch."
Offensive line, Cosumnes Oaks (Elk Grove, Calif.) — 6-3, 290
The lowdown: With four starters returning on the offensive line and numerous backups coming back with them, this class isn't too deep on the offensive line. But bringing in a 6-foot-3 player who can project as a tackle is never a bad thing.
Petrino says: "He's a young kid, he's only 17 right now. He's just going to get stronger. What you really like about him is he's athletic. He can move, he can bend, he's very flexible."
Defensive lineman, East Mississippi CC (Scooba, Miss.) — 6-2, 260
The lowdown: Idaho will desperately need to replace the production of the departed Quinton Bradley, who may be plying his trade in the NFL next season. While this class is heavy on high school defensive linemen, a junior college player will help add the competition. He could also play the tackle position.
Petrino says: "It's maybe one of the best gets we got in the class. Today, on signing day, their quarterback coach is a good friend of mine Clint Trickett who I tried to recruit out of high school, and he said 'Hey coach, congratulations, you got our best defensive lineman.' And East Mississippi is probably the best junior college football team in the country."
Linebacker, Western Michigan University — 6-2, 250
The lowdown: Sylva transfers into Idaho from Western Michigan via the graduate transfer rule. He will be eligible to play right away by obtaining his bachelor's degree from Western Michigan and enrolling into a graduate program at Idaho not offered at Western Michigan. He's listed as a Mike linebacker, so it's likely he's Broc Westlake's replacement and will give Mike Linehan another year to develop before stepping in regularly.
Petrino says: "He'll come in here with all kinds of experience. Had eight tackles against Michigan State last year. Is physical, will be a great leader for us. Coach Molnar knew him. He was originially from Massachusetts. Coach Molnar recruited him out of high school. So we're very excited about him."
Conner Vrba (2015 Grayshirt)
Offensive guard, Rocky Mountain (Meridian) — 6-4, 288
The lowdown: Announced in 2015, enrolling this season. Vrba grayshirted and will join the offensive line fray this year. Another Boise-area kid, Steven Matlock, started his first year on campus after initially grayshirting.
Petrino says: "Good looking. Him and Noah (Johnson) lift together. Kind of two big, flexible looking kids. Then Joe Wysocki the tight end is a great looking kid. He's strong, he's big, so very excited about the grayshirts."
Cade Coffey (2015 Grayshirt)
Kicker, Lakeland (Rathdrum) — 6-2, 209
The lowdown: Announced in 2015, enrolling this season. The plan is for Coffey to redshirt this season during Austin Rehkow's senior season and for Coffey to take the reins in 2017.
Petrino says: "Very exicted about him. Hopefully it works out where he redshirts and Austin's gone and he can kind of take over."