- Marty Tadman
Marty Tadman must be feeling the pressure already. He has been in Boise about a month and has officially been a Bronco for less than a week, but he's already been chronicled on the local TV Stations as the most prized recruit that the Broncos have ever landed. When the Broncos started winning, we all said.. we should start competing with the Pac-10 for recruits. When we got ranked, we said that we should start winning a few battles. Marty is the embodiment of that feeling. Offered by multiple Pac-10 teams, Marty instead chose to become a Bronco. Part of that decision was the chance to play early.. but does that mean as a True Freshman? Well... in reality, probably not. However, if there was ever a Bronco recruit that could leap-frog a couple of seasoned vets, it would be Tadman. Born with all the physical tools, (speed, strength, reflexes), he is also reportedly a very cerebral player who not only out plays his opponents, he also out thinks them. From what I've already witnessed, I can tell you that his coverage skills really are that good, especially when you consider that he's projected as a Safety, and from hearing his interviews with the local media and on KTIK for LOI day, we all can tell that the cerebral part is no exaggeration either. Marty has the potential to be something really special for the Broncos.. but the question is, will we see that potential this year or will we wait and see it as a RSFR?
- Nick Schlekeway
Nick and Marty are about 5 inches, and 60lbs apart.. but they do share one trait.. an uncommon intellectual advantage over nearly every player they'll face. Nick not only led his HS in football.. he led his HS in academics, graduating from renowned Eagle HS #1 in his class. Nick obviously works hard at everything he undertakes.. you can't be #1 in your class without some work, and you don't get mentioned in the Idaho Statesman as someone who might be too good to redshirt without some effort on the field and in the weight room. Nick committed fairly early to the Broncos last year, something that made the coaches very happy.. but does that mean that Nick will be like Junior Alex Guerrero and play right away as a True Freshman? Well.. with 2 experienced starters in front of him in Guerrero and Browning, and no fewer than 3 RSFR DT's in Gore, Smart, and Wiersma ahead of him on the depth chart, it isn't likely. Especially when you consider that he comes in to play DT at 250lbs. However.. if there is one thing that the Bronco Coaches have shown in the past, it is that physical stature is secondary to the amount of heart a player has. We could go through a virtual cavalcade of players too small for other teams who've not only shined, but dominated at Boise State. Names like Forsey, Dinwiddie, Gilligan, Allen, Sasser,... they all stand as a testament to the fact that it truly isn't' the size of the dog in the fight.. but the size of the fight in the dog that matters. With that said, if Nick impresses the coaches and earns his spot.. he'll get it.
- Bush Hamdan
What, you may ask yourself, is Hamdan doing on this list? He has no shot at usurping Sanford, Zabransky, Tharp, and Naanee... which is probably true. However, Hamdan has a couple things going for him in the race to play.. Bush came to Boise early in the summer to work with the Bronco WR's, to study film, and to work out and learn the Bronco Offense. Word is that it's worked. Hamdan was a very highly regarded recruit who somehow ended up without a ride until the Broncos blitzed him late and wooed him successfully. It is very unlikely that Bush will see the field next year, but with only 4 players ahead of him, a couple of whom might not be that far ahead of him on the depth chart, a couple injuries, like what happened to BYU last year, (knock on wood) and Bush might just find himself as the #1 backup. Now like I said, it's not likely, in fact it's by far the most unlikely scenario of any of the 5 listed here, but the fact is that should those circumstances arise, Bush could step in and likely perform at a level that would be comparable to the other True Freshmen on this list.
- David Shields
Boise State brought in 2 RB's in this class, Shields and Ian Johnson. Because the coaches have said in the past that one or both of them could end up playing.. they're an easy choice to add. The only question is.. which? Ian Johnson has great HS stats, and will undoubtedly push for playing time whenever the coaches decide to throw him into the mix.. but when you do the 'eye-ball' test, Shields just looks more physically prepared. Already a specimen at 6'2 205lbs, Shields is tall and powerful. We know that he has a sprinter's past, having excelled in HS at Track & Field. We also know that he's rested, since he didn't play more than 1 game his senior season because of a shoulder injury that we're told is a non-factor now. Given those factors, Shields gets the nod. (Very unscientific, yes.. but hey.. what do you expect?) So.. with that out of the way, how could a True Freshman factor into the RB race that has no fewer than 8 legitimate candidates already? Well.. as seems to be the running theme in this article.. he probably won't. However, there are some factors to consider that make Shields a legit candidate. The fact that there are so many hands reaching for the ball could lead to a situation where nobody really establishes themselves as 'the' RB. That lack of continuity could lead to experimentation which could lead to one or both of the true freshmen getting a legit look. Once again, as with Hamdan, the odds of it actually happening are fairly low.. but Shields has the résumé and physical tools to warrant at least a look.
- Julian Hawkins
Julian is in an ideal situation to make some noise as a True Freshman. Last year we had 2 True Freshmen play.. which shows that the Bronco coaches aren't adverse to going with the youngsters. However.. that also means that there's 2 Sophomores ahead of Julian who were both good enough to see the field as True Freshmen. However, Hawkins has some nice qualities that some of the others lack. Hawkins is a nice combo between the receiving and blocking TE's that the Broncos seem to love. He has the speed of a Blaser or Schouman, but as a True Freshman, already has the size of a Blocking TE at 6'3½ 235lbs. Hawkins also has the distinction of having played against Marty Tadman in High School.. so you know he's played at the highest level in HS. Blocking him from the field are not only the aforementioned Schou and Sherm.. but also Andy Weldon and Ryan Putnam, both of whom are bigger and more accomplished as blocking TE's. However, the Broncos just lost TE Cory Larsen who reportedly left the team, and his departure could open some playing time for the young Hawkins.
The Truth of the matter is that the odds are against any of these players seeing the field, but the Bronco coaches are well documented as subscribing to the notion that the best player plays.. regardless of class standing. So... we just might see one of them, or possibly someone else, burning that RS year in 04.
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