OGDEN — The initial recruiting class for first-year Weber State University head football coach John L. Smith features 17 freshmen, including six from Utah, who will play for the Wildcats in a group Smith classifies as "a little better than I expected coming in due to the short time period we had."
Smith, who took over the Weber State helm in December following the retirement of Ron McBride, signed 15 players to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. Three other future WSU players are currently enrolled in school.
"I thought it was a good year," said Smith, who has had previous head-coaching stints at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State. "I'm usually not over the top on recruiting classes. Again, I've never known a coach who ever said he had a bad recruiting class on signing day.
"I think it was better than I expected with the amount of time that we had … with new coaches and all of that, I was pleased. I thought it was a great year. I thought our guys battled their tails off out there and worked real hard at it, and I think our people on campus did a great job for us as well.
"I'm a big believer in length, trying to recruit as tall and lanky a kid as we can find out there. … We tried to find length and athleticism, guys that can make us better," he said. "And we're by no means done yet. Recruiting is a year-around deal, so there be a few more coming on board right away."
The list of 18 incoming players includes seven offensive linemen, four defensive backs, three defensive linemen and a couple of quarterbacks.
Among the Wildcats' signees were in-state recruits Austin Mikkelson, a 6-foot-4, 297-pound offensive lineman from Pine View High in St. George; AJ Wilcox, a 6-5, 235-pound defensive end from Syracuse High; Davonte Maez, a 6-1, 165-pound cornerback out of Hunter High; and Siamani Harris, a 6-3, 230-pound defensive end from Hunter High who Smith says has plenty of potential at several positions and could contribute to the program in a big way.
Breck Lewis, a 6-1, 195-pound freshman quarterback, played his prep football at Spanish Fork High and graduated in 2009. He is already enrolled at Weber State after serving an LDS Church mission. Shane Oliverson is a 6-4, 245-pound defensive lineman from Hyde Park, Utah, who was a two-time All-State selection at Preston High in Idaho. Like Lewis, Oliverson has already enrolled at WSU after serving an LDS Church mission.
"I feel good about it," Smith said of his squad's in-state recruiting. "I'm not ecstatic because I think we have to do a better job next year and I think we will. … We're going to continue to work it as hard as we can here and I expect us to do an even better job next year."
WSU also received commitments from offensive linemen Joe Hawkins (6-1, 300), from Vero Beach, Fla.; Maxwell Curtis (6-5, 250), from Mountain View High in Meridian, Idaho; Duncan Farnsworth (6-6, 285), from Lilburn, Ga.; Yuvraaj Madra (6-5, 270) out of Mather, Calif.; and Cameron Young (6-3, 299) from Cove, Texas.
"We've got some good O-linemen, some nice length, some nice bodies there in that offensive front and some big, strong kids," Smith said. "A couple kids in that class could possibly help us even the first year out of the box. And that's strange for offensive linemen. Normally that's getting bigger and stronger and takes at least a year, because it's a technique spot and you have to have size and strength. Normally it's the skill kids that can play early, but there may be a couple of kids in there at the offensive front that could help us right off the bat.
"We'd still like to find a couple of defensive kids, and we're going to continue to look and see what else is still available and recruit year-around."
Hasan Ali, Holy Cross HS, San Antonio, Texas, 6-0, 201 S. Earned first team All-District, All-Area, All-City and All-State honors. Recorded 96 tackles with three sacks, one interception, three fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown. Also scored 9 rushing touchdowns on offense and had a kickoff return for a TD.
Braden Corpus, Borah HS, Boise, Idaho, 6-1, 203 QB. Threw for over 1,900 yards and 16 touchdowns with no interceptions during his senior season, when he also rushed for 900 yards and 12 more TDs. Was named first team All-Conference and was a team captain and team MVP. Also played basketball and ran track at Borah High.
Maxwell Curtis, Mountain View HS, Meridian, Idaho 6-5, 250 OL. Team captain in 2011 and earned MAV award for being outstanding on and off the field. Four-year honor roll student. Also played basketball and competed in track and field.
Cordero Dixon, Gainesville HS, Gainesville, Fla., 5-9, 175 CB. Earned All-Area honors and participated in the Florida-Georgia All-Star Game, where he was named team MVP. Had 56 tackles, 4 interceptions, 9 pass breakups and scored two defensive touchdowns as a senior, when he also had 232 yards rushing and 210 yards receiving.
Duncan Farnsworth, Milton HS, Lilburn, Ga., 6-6, 285 OL. Plans on serving an LDS Church mission before playing for Wildcats. Also wrestled in high school and has big frame with plenty of potential.
Gamal Fowler, Dayton HS, Dayton, Texas, 5-11, 175 WR. Earned first team All-District honors with 61 receptions for 900 yards and 15 touchdowns. Also played basketball and particpated in track and field.
Siamani Harris, Hunter HS, Kearns, 6-3, 230 DE. Earned first team All-Region 3 honors and recorded 14 sacks. Also competed in track and field at Hunter High, running the 100 and 200-meter sprints and throwing the shot put.
Joe Hawkins, Vero Beach HS, Vero Beach, Fla., 6-1, 300 OL. Earned first team All-Area honors and was a third team All-State selection as a senior. Also competed in track and field.
Marquel Holmes, Trinity Catholic HS, Ocala, Fla., 6-0, 213 LB. Earned second team All-Star honors in both his junior and senior seasons. Named linebacker of the year as a senior. Also earned All-County honors as a junior, when he recorded 11.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.
Breck Lewis, Spanish Fork HS, Spanish Fork, 6-1, 195 QB. Earned first team All-State honors in 2008 and was named the Utah Valley Offensive MVP. Threw for 500 yards and 6 TDs in final prep game. Second team All-State as a junior. Served LDS Church mission to Seattle and is already enrolled at WSU.
Yuvraaj Madra, Folsom HS, Mather, Calif., 6-5, 270 OL. All-League selection as a junior and senior and was named a Sacramento All-Star. Led his Folsom High team to 14-1 record and state championship as a junior. Was team captain as a senior in 2011.
Davonte Maez, Hunter HS, West Valley City, 6-1, 165 CB. First team All-Region 3 selection also played wide receiver, with 29 receptions for 493 yards and 4 touchdowns as a senior. Also participated in basketball and track and field.
Cody McKague, Borah HS, Boise, Idaho, 6-4, 213 TE. Was a team captain who earned first team All-State and All-Conference honors with 36 receptions for 626 yards and 4 TDs as a tight end. Also had 7 tackles for loss and 3 sacks on defense. Also participated in basketball and track.
Austin Mikkelson, Pine View HS, St. George, 6-4, 297 OL. Team captain earned first team All-Region honors and was honorable mention All-State selection. Can bench-press 385 pounds and squat 500 pounds.
Shane Oliverson, Preston HS, Hyde Park, Utah, 6-4, 245 DL. Earned All-State honors as offensive and defensive linemen in his junior and senior seasons. Named to All-Cache Valley Team three years in a row and was team captain as a junior and a senior. Also participated in basketball, rugby and track.
Chris Wheeler, Allan Hancock Junior College/Templeton HS, Templeton, Calif, 6-0, 175 S. A two-time second team All-Conference safety in junior college who was twice named his team's defensive back of the year. Had six interceptions in 2011 and 150 career tackles.
AJ Wilcox, Syracuse HS, Syracuse, 6-5, 235 DE. Earned first team All-Region 1 honors as a junior, but shoulder injury forced him to sit out his senior season. Also earned honorable mention all-region in basketball as a junior. Brother Jared played OL for the Wildcats from 2006-09.
Cameron Young, Barbers Hill HS, Cove, Texas, 6-3, 299 OL. Earned second team All-State honors as offensive lineman for a team that went 9-2 and reached state playoffs his senior year. Also competed in track and field.