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But it’s not as basic as simply having a keen eye able to pick out the perfect fits for what the Broncos are trying to accomplish. That talent evaluation comes because Petersen has a little extra time. Luginbill notes that many of the top BCS programs feel the need to sign high school players who can immediately enter as a true freshman and provide help. Part of that is the proliferation of talented freshman being ready to play as soon as they arrive on campus. Part of it is squeezing the most out of recruits, especially those with NFL futures who could bolt early.

Petersen and the Broncos, meanwhile, have made the most of redshirting recruits when the opportunity allows, putting even more emphasis on recognizing undervalued potential. The 3-star recruit most BCS schools will pass on is someone Boise State is highly intrigued by, as long as they have the signs of growing into a star.

Boise State can get away with that plan in part because of their competition, or lack thereof. On a weekly basis, the Broncos don’t need to be better than the Alabamas and Oregons they find near them in the Top 25. They just need to be better than the rest of the Western Athletic Conference, and starting next season, the Mountain West.

“There is an assumption because their classes aren’t ranked they are recruiting bad players and they all of a sudden are magically coaching them into being good players,” Luginbill said. “That’s not how it works. They are recruiting good players.”

Even though the Broncos have made their mark finding overlooked recruits that evolve into some of the best players in the country, they aren’t ignoring the opportunity to pluck some of the best talent available. Entering signing day, the Broncos have 18 verbal commitments, which puts to rest any concern caused by the Broncos thin class a year ago, due to a limited number of available scholarships.

“There aren’t a lot of egos in this class and there generally aren’t in Boise State classes,” said Adam Gorney, recruiting analyst with

Brandon Huffman, West regional manager for, noticed a number of the top recruits included Boise State on their finalist lists. While no 4- or 5-star high school recruits are expected to land in Boise, Huffman said the Broncos decision to go after these recruits was noticed.

“I think the bigger surprise is it took them that long to recruit on that stage,” Huffman said. “… Boise prided themselves on getting to that point with some of the overlooked guys. (But) they can recruit on the bigger scale and it wasn’t until this year they tried to show that.”

Petersen acknowledges the players the Broncos can recruit might be more talented than when he first took over from Dan Hawkins in 2006. But the makeup of who the Broncos target hasn’t changed.

“I think it’s very simple,” he said. “We’re looking for good football players that are great kids. That’s it.”