How To Replace Austin Pettis & Titus Young

It's the elephant in the room. How are Boise State's wide receivers going to do this season and who is going to step up? I'll attempt to answer both of those questions in this 2011 Boise State Preview. (Photo provided by rights reserved.)

The Boise State wide receivers have some huge shoes to fill. Gone are the top two receivers in school history, Austin Pettis and Titus Young.

It doesn't help that the unit only has one senior (Tyler Shoemaker) and two juniors with only limited playing experience (Chris Potter and Mitch Burroughs). Indications are, however, that the receivers are progressing just fine, thank-you, and that makes it tougher for opening-game opponent Georgia to prepare its defense. That fits with Boise State's recent history. Several times in the last ten years, entire groups of receivers have left, only to find that the next group is more talented than their successors.

Still, I suspect that Georgia will concentrate on stopping the running game and make the receivers prove they can cause damage. Besides, Georgia's corners are athletic enough that they should be able to contain the wide receivers. The Bulldogs probably have more to worry about with the tight ends. Kyle Efaw (6-4,242) is as fine a tight end as you'll see in the country and reports are that sophomore Gabe Linehan (6-3,232) is turning heads. Chandler Koch (6-2,250) is another target for quarterback Kellen Moore. If those guys break free over the middle, that limits the ability of the safeties to come up and stop the run. In any case, it certainly gives Georgia plenty to think about. Freshmen Kyle Sosnowski (6-1, 288) is coming off a redshirt season and Jake Hardee (6-3,236) is a walk-on from Boise's Bishop Kelly High School.

But back to the wide receivers because that is one of the question marks heading into the season. Who will step up to get playing time for Boise State? There have been five in particular. Sophomore Geraldo Boldewijn (6-4, 200) is still learning American football but as he does, and as the Bronco coaches mold him, he's going to get better and better. He was already making great catches in the Spring game and he has made considerable progress since then. Kirby Moore set national records in high school and so far has yet to transfer that success to the college level. But Moore has stepped up as he has learned the offense and is running crisper routes. Bronco fans have been waiting for Aaron Burks to blossom and it appears that is finally the case. He worked hard in the summer and is ready to hit the field.

Two freshmen in particular, Dallas Burroughs (5-9,170) and Matt Miller (6-3,215) have really impressed this fall. Coach Chris Petersen doesn't usually play true freshmen, although he played Young and Pettis when they were freshmen. Miller gives Boise State great size and was highly recruited out of high school. Burroughs is even faster than brother Mitch (5-9, 181) as Dallas broke the 25-year-old state record in the 100. His time of 10.34 ranked as the fastest in the nation last year if you discount wind-aided times. With Miller's size and hands and Burroughs' speed, is it really possible that in one year Boise State could replace Young and Pettis with guys that could turn out to be as good? Again, that's Boise State's history so I wouldn't bet against them. Tyler Horn is another freshman that has been impressive in fall ball.

Shoemaker, Mitch Burroughs and Potter give the Broncos the experience. Redshirt freshman Troy Ware (6-1,181) is another receiver the Broncos have high hopes for but given the talent ahead of him, it will be tough for Ware to break through for anything more than spot duty. Junior Tyler Jackson (6-0, 193) and freshman Cory Brehm (6-0, 185) give Boise State depth.

It is difficult to gauge how the Bronco receivers will do this season. On the one hand, they don't bring a lot of experience into the season. But they do have talent and loads of potential. And it certainly doesn't hurt to have the defending passing efficiency leader in the nation returning to throw to you.

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