MOSCOW, Idaho – Robb Akey insists the University of Idaho honed in on the same high school standouts from the start. But when the Vandals started piling up victories in September and October, his staff could detect at least one difference.
“I think we stayed in it longer with some of (the recruits) because of the success we’re starting to have,” Akey said.
Apparently, the Vandals were also able to close on most of their choice targets. Coming off a banner 8-5 season, Idaho on Wednesday announced the signing of 25 high school and junior college players, a handful of whom were pleasant (and late) surprises.
Perhaps the most notable out-of-the-blue letter of intent came from Maxx Forde, a 270-pound defensive end from Woodinville, Wash. He had originally given an oral commitment to Washington State, where his family has deep roots.
Although Akey spoke to the media before Forde’s signing became official, he hinted that the Vandals’ awakening – punctuated by a dramatic Humanitarian Bowl victory – helped with recruits who were still mulling their decisions.
“The success of the season, as we were going through things, that certainly had a lot of folks excited,” Akey said. “I think that strengthened the interest level of the people we were going after.”
Forde is one of eight signees from Washington and Idaho. The local haul includes two players from Lewiston (quarterback Justin Podrabsky and offensive lineman Spencer Beale); defensive lineman Jesse Davis from nearby Asotin, Wash.; and Moscow High speedster Jayson Washington.
Those four players played their high school football so close to the Kibbie Dome that “you throw a rock from campus and hit their homes,” Akey quipped. “I’ve got a good arm; I can hit Asotin and Lewiston from here.”
The gem of Idaho’s class might be tailback Ryan Bass, a transfer from Arizona State. The four-star recruit out of Centennial High in Corona, Calif., played as a true freshman and sophomore for former UI coach Dennis Erickson and will have two years of eligibility after redshirting this fall.
Bass and current Vandals receiver Marcel Posey are cousins, Akey said. The two played at Centennial – along with outgoing UI lineman Irvin Stevens III – so UI already had a valuable connection when going after the talented back.
Beyond a scattering of skill position players, the Vandals focused on shoring up the offensive line – where four starters must be replaced – as well as the secondary and defensive interior. They signed 13 linemen, seven on the offensive side, and four defensive backs.
One of most promising prospects in the offensive interior is Wenatchee’s Michael Marboe, who is already attending UI after graduating high school early. He was the 19th-rated center in the nation by Scout.com.
Included in the class are cornerback Matt Harvey and Shawn Tucker, who joined UI in 2009. … Junior college lineman signee Ben Swarts must still be cleared, Akey said. … Akey said negotiations on his new contract are ongoing and “will be cleaned up shortly.” The coach also hopes to hire a new quarterbacks coach to replace Jonathan Smith in the next several weeks.