College Football Future: Top 5 Mountain West recruits for 2020

With just 81 days until the start of the 2020 College Football season, we continue to take a look at the latest influx of high school players transitioning from the Friday Night Lights to starring on Saturday. In the latest “College Football Future”, we shine a light on the Top 5 Mountain West recruits for 2020.  

Whilst Boise State continue to be the benchmark for recruiting in the Mountain West, once again laying claim to the best class in the conference as per 247 Sports, they have faced significant threats from some new contenders in UNLV and New Mexico in this recruiting cycle.

Can the the Rebels and Lobos challenge the Broncos for the Mountain West Championship?

Only time will tell. However, these are the Top 5 Mountain West recruits in 2020 that could shape the next few years for their programs.

Brennon Scott - LB - UNLV

top 5 mountain west recruits
Photo Credit: Joe Hamilton
  • High School: Bishop Dunne; Dallas, TX
  • National Ranking: 487
  • Positional Ranking: 23
  • Height: 6'0
  • Weight: 234lbs

With just two winning seasons since the turn of the millenium, the UNLV Rebels are hardly a team synonomous with success. However, the times they are a changing down in Las Vegas. The Rebels have a new head coach in former Oregon offensive co-ordinator, Marcus Arroyo, and a lucrative deal to play thier home games in the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium.

The impact is being felt in their ability to recruit. In the 2019 recruiting cycle the Rebels were 8th in the Mountain West. This year, they are second behind conference power house, Boise State. 

That class is led by one of the Top 5 Mountain West recruits in Brennon Scott.

Scott entertained offers from multiple Power 5 schools, including from his new head coach’s previous school, Oregon. He could have played in the PAC12 and was, until January, committed to play for the Kansas Jayhawks in the SEC.

At just under 6’1 and 235lbs, Scott comes out of high school with the pyhsical attributes to compete at the college level straight away. He puts his physicality to good use on the field as a pass rushing linebacker with a mean streak. In his junior season for Bishop Dunne he racked up 14 sacks and nine tackles for loss as an All-State selection.

As the highest rated recruit in recent Rebels history, you can expect Scott to have an instant impact for UNLV. 

What he says:

“It’s the people you know you’ll be surrounded with, people that’s gonna bring you into a better tomorrow and that will always have your best interest. You have a coach coming from a program with winning and you know he’s gonna surround himself with winners so the program is heading into winners no more losing.” 

Nathaniel Jones - RB - New Mexico

top 5 mountain west recruits
Photo Credit: Scott Varley (Daily Breeze/SCNG)
  • High School: St. John Bosco; Bellflower, CA
  • National Ranking: 553
  • Positional Ranking: 40
  • Height: 5'11
  • Weight: 205lbs

Another Mountain West team looking to make a splash with a former PAC12 coach are the New Mexico Lobos. After racking up just eight wins in three seasons, Danny Gonzalez replaces Bob Davie. Gonzalez flexed his muscle securing 15 three star recruits, with running back Nathaniel Jones being the cherry on the top of the recruiting cake.

Jones makes the list of our Top 5 Mountain West recruits for 2020 as one of the highest rated high school players in Lobos recruiting history.

As with their head coach hire, New Mexico managed to prise a star away from the PAC12. Jones was committed to UCLA, and nearly ended up at USC, but found his way to New Mexico after forming a relationship with Gonzalez whilst the coach was at Arizona State.

Described as a physical downhill runner, with breakaway speed, Jones will have the opportunity to shine behind an offensive line that was the focus of this seasons recruiting. 

Jones was used in a triple headed backfield monster at St. John Bosco and as such his numbers don’t immediately jump off the page. However, he did average nearly six yards per carry for a team that won the CIF Southern Section Championship.

He brings a winning mentality and a strong sense of leadership to a program that is moving in the right direction in the Mountain West.

What he says:

“Everyone felt like family. It was a nice experience. Just the whole experience and the coaching staff was welcoming. Everyone had a nice vibe to them. I like the whole city. The academic program there is amazing.”

What they say:

“He’s good enough to play at the next level (NFL). He’s got the talent. Now, it’s up to him to make that happen. He believes in what we’re doing, and his family felt comfortable with where he would be and who was he going to be around … We were able to steal one.” – Danny Gonzales

LaTrell Caples - WR - Boise State

top 5 mountain west recruits
Photo Credit: 247 Sports
  • High School: Lancaster; Lancaster, TX
  • National Ranking: 647
  • Positional Ranking: 101
  • Height: 6'0
  • Weight: 185lbs

The Boise State Broncos have been dominant in the Mountain West in recent years. As such it should come as no surprise to see them sit atop the Mountain as the leading recruiters in the conference.

The best in their 2020 class is one of the Top 5 Mountain West recruits, wide receiver LaTrell Caples.

The three star recruit out of Lancaster becomes the latest player in an ever growing trend of the Broncos recruiting from the state of Texas. He joins fellow Lancaster alumni CT Thomas in a Boise State wide receiver room that lost John Hightower to the NFL Draft.

As a track and field star at Lancaster, Caples brings an athletic and explosive nature to the football field. He highlighted his explosive ability by being a regional qualifier in the long jump. 

Caples puts that to good use as a “go up and get it” type receiver, helping him to provide a red zone threat as evidenced by his 12 senior season touchdowns. He broke 1000 yards as a senior whilst leading Lancaster in combined yardage through his sophomore and junior seasons.

Boise State beat out teams from the SEC, PAC 12 and BIG Ten to land Caples as one of the Top 5 recruits in the Mountain West for 2020.

What he says:

“All the coaches were cool and great people. The team was the type of players I would want to surround myself with in the future. What really stood out was just the winning tradition and how everybody that can play will play and get there burn.”

Joey Wright - OT - San Diego State

Photo Credit: Shotgun Spratling (LA Times)
  • High School: Bishop Manogue; Reno, NV
  • National Ranking: 701
  • Positional Ranking: 53
  • Height: 6'6
  • Weight: 297lbs

San Diego State continued the conference theme of picking up pieces from the PAC 12 with the acquisition of Joey Wright. The offensive tackle makes the Top 5 Mountain West recruits for 2020 after turning his back on USC.

There was a great deal of excitement from Trojans fans when Wright committed to USC. That should tell you everything you need to know about the type of player that the Aztecs are getting in the 300lbs offensive tackle.

Wright had wowed Trojans staff at the USC Elite Camp. As a former basketball standout, he flashes athleticism that you wouldn’t expect for a man of his size. He is the typical man amongst boys lineman that creates an obvious size and strength mismatch at the high school level.

With his best traits coming as a run blocking lineman, Wright is the perfect addition to a San Diego State offence that will presumably continue to place an emphasis on the ground game in 2020.

He may have some developmental work to do to be the complete package, particularly as a pass blockers, but Wright will be a dominant feature on the Aztecs offensive line over the next few years.

John Gentry - RB - Utah State

Photo Credit: 247 Sports
  • High School: North Shore; Houston, TX
  • National Ranking: 729
  • Positional Ranking: 51
  • Height: 5'10
  • Weight: 186lbs

Whilst the eyes of the recruiting world were focused on the wild ride that was Zachary Evans’ path to TCU, another North Shore running back was having a journey all of his own. It’s been a winding road that ends with John Gentry being one of the Top 5 Mountain West recruits for 2020.

Gentry was originally committed to Arkansas but by mid-November had opened up his recruitment. Presumably a late-October trip to Utah had captured his heart and Gentry committed to a Utes program that was set to lose Zack Moss at the end of 2019.

However, the early signing period came and went and still Gentry was unsigned. After a late January visit to Utah State, Gentry flipped his commitment and became the second highest rated Aggies recruit in program history.

Gentry was a “do-it-all” player at North Shore, lining up as a running back, quarterback, wide receiver, and even seeing snaps on defense during his high school career. Thanks to his versatility, he contributed over 3500 yards and was responsible for 48 touchdowns.

Gentry faces stiff competition from presumptive starting running back Jaylen Warren. However, he will still compete and command playing time as a freshman.

What he says:

“I want to add to an offense, I want to be an additional part. I want to bring what I did at North Shore to Utah State, want to bring that highlight film, bring leadership. Utah State doesn’t recruit four and five star guys. They recruit guys who can hang and who can be a dog. When Coach Andersen saw me, he saw that dog inside of me. That’s why I loved it. I’m ready to get up there and make my mark at Utah State.”

What they say:

“We are excited about the running backs. Both of those young men (John Gentry and Elelyon Noa) coming in and competing at a high level at the running back position is something that we need.” – Gary Anderson

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OLIVER HODGKINSON IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. HE ALSO WRITES ON THE NFL FOR THE PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK. YOU CAN HEAR HIS OPINIONS ON ALL THINGS COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.