In Charge of Making Tharp Look Good

We're up to the tight ends and receivers in BroncoCountry's 2007 Boise State Football Preview. If Taylor Tharp is to have the kind of year we expect, his receivers must run crisp routes and make the plays. Here are the guys we're all counting on.



Jim Socher

Football coach
"His 18 consecutive conference championships as head coach of the UC Davis Aggies earned this former Gator quarterback a coveted spot in the College Football Hall of Fame."

Dan Hawkins

Football Coach

"Nothing is off-limits," says Petersen. "Coach Hawkins is very aggressive in his thinking. If you're always worried that something could blow up on you, you're not going to push the envelope and not going to try new things. Some of the stuff does blow up on us, but the tradeoff is the problems we're creating for defenses when it works.""

Chris Petersen

Football Coach

"In the history of college football, only one coach since 1900 has won 13 games in his first season at the helm of a Division I football team. That coach is Chris Petersen".

The System

"With an unusual blend of numerous offensive styles, Boise State emphasizes unconventional formations (everything from three tight ends to an empty backfield), specialization (in any given game, the Broncos will employ 35-45 different personnel groupings and play as many as eight different receivers…"


So what, you may ask, ‘So what does all of this have to do Boise State's 2007 Wide Receivers and Tight Ends Article?

And the answer is, ‘More than you might imagine'.

Retired Cal Davis Coach Jim Socher taught his then QB Chris Petersen the West Coast offense, which is the starting point for Petersen's offensive schemes and which emphasized, more than any previous offense, the comparatively heavy and unusual use of wide receivers and tight ends.

Coach Dan Hawkins taught Chris Petersen to trust his genius instincts and push the envelope.  Consequently Petersen's offense, while it still has aspects of the West Coast scheme, has evolved far beyond anything the brilliant 49'ers Coach Bill Walsh likely ever imagined.  

What separates Petersen's offense from Walsh's ‘West Coast' philosophy is what Petersen call's "The Chameleon", and it truly is one but unlike it‘s lizard relative this Chameleon is an ongoing process of evolution and consequently the Broncos' opponents are finding it difficult to find the Chameleon's jugular. From the opposition's point of view, it's chilling to know that the Broncos may present the exact same play from a variety of sets and a load of unconventional formations and (dare I say it) just a few trick plays. Most of the time, the Chameleon has the defense so off balance that it's too busy licking it's own wounds to ever become truly predatory.

Something else Petersen brings is an unusually large number of personal groupings. Which brings up one very good reason Petersen succeeds while so many others fail. It's one thing to create all these offensive looks, but it's entirely another to transfer that knowledge to 100 of so young men. To this point Petersen's offensive genius has overshadowed his other coaching attributes, but it just may be a matter of time before people are asking ‘is Coach Chris Petersen a greater tactician or a greater teacher?'

He truly excels at both.


Did you know that some Detroit Lion fans were pushing for the hiring of Chris Petersen based on his performance at the Fiesta Bowl? Their reasoning was that the National Football League has gotten way too predictable and it was time to open the game up. Apparently they felt Petersen's offensive abilities might make a difference. Not much to disagree with there.



So let's take a look at some of those hungry young Broncos:

Boise State's tight ends contribute in so many ways that they're inarguably a large reason for the team's success, but the question is, ‘Where did this TE position come from? And the answer is,

No one knows.

It's generally agreed Green Bay Coach Vince Lombardi was a key contributor to it's evolution when he moved relatively slow, 6-3, 240-pound wide receiver Ron Kramer to a three point stance and opposite the left tackle. Over the next four seasons he became the Packer's "secret weapon" averaging a team leading and amazing 16 yards per catch. It didn't take long for the ‘secret' to get out.

The next step in TE evolution came about largely in response to N.Y Giant's linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who had almost super human capabilities. Taylor had a nasty habit of running right over 'blocking' backs who got between him and the quarterback and more often than not, consuming the quarterback. Washington Coach Joe Gibbs created a second tight end, simply because it was the only way he could think of to stop Taylor. Lawrence Taylor is likely the only player in the history of football solely responsible for creating a new field position.

The tight end position is at once one of the most intriguing, flexible and mentally demanding positions on the team. He has to be able to run routes and catch like a WR; drop to a three point stance and block like a tackle; shift out to a WR slot and then back to the line, shift to the H-back position, shift and run a route, shift and block, shift and block and then release and quickly get open for an outlet pass; or get off of one block and…well you get the idea.. The skills and complexity of this position might explain why tight ends like Derek Schouman are so hard to find.

In 2006 Schouman ended the regular season tied for third for the most Bronco touchdowns and impressively blocked for another 20 TD's. Heaven only knows how many total yards he was responsible for in one capacity or another and who will ever forget that crucial catch he made in the Fiesta Bowl? No position on the field demands such a diversity of skills as does the modern TE and no other Bronco TE, to date, has mastered those skills as did SHOOOO!


How much can an NFL tight end make? A blocking tight end; between $ 1M to $3M per year. A Schouman quality tight end who has the whole package can make as much as $8M a year.

Now we know that the Broncos love to use the tight end but to make life even more complicated for their opposition, the staff likes using one, two and three TE sets. There are rumors now that the Bronco staff is looking at using four. If Richie Brockel (who once had a 251 yd. rushing game in high school) gets his way, we might be seeing some new wrinkles in that department. A recent Idaho Statesman article revealed that Brockel has been visiting Coach Harsin's office on almost a daily basis, drawing up his ideas for TE/ H-back running plays, and Brockel, a 4.0 student who, before accepting Boise State's offer, was considering Stanford and Harvard just might have some worthy thoughts on the subject.

The question everyone is asking is do we have another great all-around TE in the wings?

That is left to be seen, but what we do know is that we've some very talented young men just waiting to for their opportunity to shine.

I've broken the tight ends down to three groups, but don't let that fool you. Every tight end will be expected to do it all. Some of them are just better at certain aspects than others.


Situational or 'Do it all' Tight Ends

Situational tight ends, as the name implies can both block and catch almost equally well. Both blocking and receiving require learning many different techniques, in fact inarguably more than any other position on the team.


Sherm Blaser #86

Senior 6-3 247 Eagle High

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAfter missing last season to a foot injury, Blaser is undoubtedly chomping at the bit to get back in the game.  In 2005 he saw significant playing time but missed the entire ‘06 season due to that injury. Blaser brings maturity and experience, and about 32 pounds more muscle since the beginning of his sophomore season.  Look for Boise's own high school All-American to really step it up after going on a church mission and missing a year to injury. Blaser is an intelligent athlete who majored in blocking but has shown his pass-catching abilities will gain him a double major this year. He will be a solid force in '07. Who knows?  Next year we might see him back working on his Masters.


Do you think Schouman will be easy to replace? When Al Davis was asked about the possibilities of finding his team an all-around TE? His answer?

It's "…f—ing impossible to find a great one."


Chris O'Neill

#88 Junior 6-3 237 Miramonte HS Morage CA

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketO'Neill has bulked up 27 pounds since coming to Boise State.  His last known recorded 40 time was 4.59. Though he didn't see many passes thrown his way when he played in six games last year, in high school he had 78 catches for 978 yards and 12 TD's.  Another Boise State Scholar Athlete, expect O'Neill to be a force while blocking and catching this year.  I pick Chris as my surprise TE.  He's going to open some eyes.


Tommy Gallarda

#85 Freshman 6-6 236 Brea HS, Brea, CA

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTommy Gallarda counts as one of the Broncos' best in their best recruiting class ever.  BSU snatched Gallarda from both WSU (that's Washington, not Weber), and Colorado, Tommy gained 16 pounds of muscle this past year.  This young giant has the whole package: size, speed, meanness, hands, you name it.  Prior to redshirting at Boise State, he was a force on both sides of the ball at Brea HS, where, as a senior, he managed to pick up ‘Player of The Week' honors an amazing eight times.  Perhaps his two most telling high school stats are (as a senior), he caught 48 passes for 810 yards while managing 50 tackles.  He also threw one pass for a 69 yard TD.  He ought to fit in just fine at Boise State.  Watch this kid.  He's going to be a very good one.


Primary Blocking Tight Ends


The Blockers:

Correct and effective blocking isn't easy, and as many great high school blockers have had to learn the hard way, it's a much different game at the college level.  The opponents are bigger, stronger, faster, quicker, sneakier, better coached and just plain meaner.  Being called a blocking tight end certainly doesn't mean that they can't catch, only that it isn't necessarily their strength.

Ryan Putnam

#39 Senior 6-2 248 Chino HS, Chino CA

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketRyan Putnam is another poster child of Bronco football.  He wasn't heavily recruited out of high school, but perhaps more than any other Boise State tight end, this young man has the reputation of being an extremely hard worker and never taking a play off.  Considering that he's played in 38 straight games, that's some pretty consistent work ethic.  On a team with more than a little talent at TE, expect Putnam to finish his career playing in every single game.  That says more about his heart than his raw talent.

Putnam's considered more of a blocker, but he's had his share or catches the last two years, including two for 17 against tough defenders San Jose State last year. Anyone who can catch a ball amidst their swarming defense has some real capabilities.  I have a feeling that this ‘blocker' might blossom into a ‘catcher' this season.

Richie Brockel #40

Sophomore 6-2 249 Greenway HS, Phoenix AZ

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketComing out of high school Brockel was smart (4.0 G.P.A.), tough (he played both TE/LB and was outstanding going both ways), and strong.  Benching (300 lbs), squatting (520 lbs)), and cleaning (295 lbs), while still in high school has gained 16 pounds of muscle since then.  Coach Chris Strausser describes Brockel as "…probably our most physical guy…", which is no great surprise considering that as a high school senior he was a 1st team, Big School All-State linebacker.  On top of that he can run (remember 251 yards?) and he can also catch.  As a senior he caught 40 passes for 494 yards and 7 TD's.  After playing in all 12 games last year, expect more than a few opponents to wind up as hay to the Brockel harvester this year.


Primary Receiving Tight Ends

The Pass Catchers

Pass catching as a tight end is especially difficult.  In an open field, with no defender grabbing your jersey or about to swipe your legs, most any one has ‘soft hands'.  In the world of the tight end, it isn't that easy.  A tight end must be able to not only keep his eye on the ball and gather it in, but must be ready for immediate and harsh impact.  Because the tight end is usually smack in the middle of coverage, his getting beat up is a given.  Imagine an angry 230-pound monster bearing down on you, while you have to run a perfect route while staring into the eyes of the QB, and it becomes immediately apparent why the only thing that can be soft about a tight end is his hands.

Kyle Efaw #80

Freshman 6-4 223 Capital HS, Boise

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketEfaw was #25 or #84 (depending on who you believe) on Prep Magazine's NW Hot 100 list.  Efaw is fast (4.6 coming out of Capital), and played WR, so soft hands is a given.  He can catch, run, tackle, intercept and when all else fails, he can kick.  Efaw needs to put on a few pounds to be a real force at tight end, but as he grows, so do his potentials, and he already has a ton of them.


Multiple tight end sets are often used to protect quarterbacks in passing situations.


Unknown Quantity Tight ends

Peter Elliot

Junior 6-4 219 Coffeyville CC and Chaparral HS, Anthony KS

Elliot redshirted in ‘06.  I wish I could tell you more about Peter but apparently they don't keep football records at Coffeyville JC.  Anything I could say would be a guess, and so here's a semi-educated one:

At 219 pounds, Elliot probably won't be a blocking phenom. I'd guess that we are going to see more pass action from Boise State's tight ends this year then perhaps ever before.  Some good news is that he's an Academic All-American, so that'll speed up ‘the learning process'.

Ryan Angstman

Junior Height and weight unknown Meridian High

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAngstman went from Meridian High in 2005 to Santa Barbara City College as a TE where he averaged over 13 yards per catch, with a long of 92 yards, and was fifth in total TD's (7).  This year he's walking on as a Bronco.  Expect Angstman to red shirt.  If not he's going to have more than a bit of ability.  Beating out this group of talented TE's, as a junior walk-on, takes a bit of courage and self-belief.  It won't be easy for Angstman to break into the rotation, but if the feat pictured in this picture of Ryan is any indication of his abilities he just might make some waves this year.



"We have so much more versatility. We have four, five maybe six guys that can work themselves into the lineup. This shows we are probably on the right track recruiting, because we really feel the tight end position is one which our offense centers around."

Chris Strausser





Every year we hear fans' concern about whether the Bronco receivers have the necessary height, speed, or jumping ability.  It seems we forget about some of the brilliant Bronco receivers of the past, like T.J. Acree, who wasn't tall, fast or a great jumper, he just didn't know how 'not to get' the job done.

For those who continue to be concerned, read the following. It hopefully will help put your mind at ease:

"Walsh has had the luxury to coach a number of great wide receivers, including Chip Myers, Charlie Joiner, James Lofton, Ken Margerum, Isaac Curtis, Dwight Clark, John Taylor and the incomparable Jerry Rice.  At one time or another, all of them were either Pro Bowl players or All-Americans in college.

Each, however, was uniquely qualified and different from the others.

For example, Chip Myers was 6'5, while Charlie Joiner was only 5'10; Isaac Curtis was an NCAA sprint champion; Dwight Clark ran a 4.6 40-yard dash, etc.  The one thing that they had in common, however, was that they were all brilliant performers."

Another way of saying "brilliant performers" is "huge heart", something of which Boise State wide receivers have a long rich tradition.

I've broken the wide receivers down into two groups, the Z and the X side.


The Z receivers

 No the Z receivers aren't called this because Jared preferred to throw to this side of the field. The ‘Z' position usually lines up behind the line of scrimmage, thus avoiding the ‘jamb' he'd likely get if he were on the line. Most of the time ‘the Z' lines up on the same side as the tight end. In the case of the Broncos, that most certainly is not always the case.


Vinny Perretta #19

Junior 5-9 196 Los Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, CA

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketVinny, Vinny, Vinny, What can you say about Vinny Perretta. A jack of all trades and a master of…well, virtually all of them. calls Perretta "a multifaceted weapon" and that description is accurate.  He introduced himself to us against Boston College two years ago.  In ‘06 all he did was finish third on the team in rushing and fifth in receiving along with his little known talent for passing.

This will be a very interesting year for Perretta because for the first time since his freshman season, he'll be able to concentrate solely on his first string, WR assignments.  He's fast and has hands.  He likes to make people miss and he has a nose for the end zone.


Watch out WAC here comes da Vinny! Be scared, be vinny, vinny scared.


Tanyon Bissell #2

Junior 5-10 195 Bozeman HS, Bozeman MT

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketEven though the depth charts show Bissell as either the second or third receiver behind Vinny P. at the Z position, there's a feeling about this kid, this year.  Maybe it's because he walked on at Boise State and gained a scholarship.  Perhaps it's because he's coming from being a very successful high school QB, and so he knows how to run effective routes.  Perhaps it's because he's the type of big-hearted player who has succeeded so well at Boise State.  Or because while playing QB at the HS Badlands Bowl, due to the loss of so many wide receivers, Bissell agreed to also play WR.  So Tanyon ended up throwing the ball and catching it in the same Bowl game, though we assume not on the same play.  Whether he could catch his own passes or not, he impressed the Bronco coaches, who asked him to walk on.  Bissell is a winner who will give us every reason to want to see him on the field.


Austin Pettis #87

Freshman 6-3 190 Lutheran HS, Anaheim, CA


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWith the departure of Aiona Key, Austin Pettis is the heir-apparent to the third slot of the Z WR position.  It's a shame to see his redshirt year burned, but this young man can come in and start contributing immediately.  Pettis was the number nine WR coming out of California last year, and arguably the hallmark player in what is widely considered the best Bronco recruiting class ever.  There isn't much that Pettis isn't.  Big, fast and his sure hands gained him Velocity/Prep Star All-Region in a very tough California football conference.  He had four TD's in the State championship game.  As a senior all he managed to do was haul in 72 receptions for 1,079 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Perhaps even if Key had stayed, Pettis wouldn‘t be redshirting this year.  He's just too big, too fast and too good and was a nice steal from the likes of Washington State.


Michael Choate #46

Sophomore, 5-11 187 Haviland HS, Garden City CC

CPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobuckethoate is another HS QB going the college route of WR.  He played one year at GCCC before walking on at Boise State.  He's not only a very good JC receiver, but helped with the Kansas State HS Championship and is an excellent mid-distance runner which confirms his conditioning and his fighting attitude (first in the 4x800 relay, and Individual 400 meter).  Choate has some stiff competition at WR, but everywhere he's been he's competed very well.


Evan Surratt #81

Sophomore 6-2, 201 Hart HS, College of the Canyons, Valencia, Ca

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSurratt is the most likely player to surprise everyone.  The coaches didn't move Surratt from defensive back to wide receiver because he couldn't play defense.  Everything I've read says this kid is very, very good.  In high school in Valencia he had 52 receptions for 1,100 yards.


"The receivers' number one commitment to the team is that they are going to be good blockers.  Obviously the receivers are here to catch the ball but they want to make the difference when the big run occurs." Brent Pease


The X Receivers

 Since we gotta' have seven men on the line, the X receiver generally is.  In most offenses he's the guy on the other side of the field from the tight end.  This isn't ‘most offenses', so don't be surprised to see a TE lined up next to the X slot.


Jeremy ‘Big Play' Childs #9

Sophomore 6-0 196 Los Alamitos HS, Los Alamitos, CA

Question: Who is the only Bronco receiver to have achieved ‘Player of the day" in both the ‘06 and ‘07 practices? Answer: It was none other than Athlon's Number One WAC recruit, Jeremy Childs. Why is this important? Because it shows that even taking a large step up in recruiting that the Broncos are still able to get young men with large hearts and a blue collar mentality. Winning last year's ‘Player of the Day' award, Coach Petersen said that Jeremy Childs was getting it for his consistency.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketA year later he won it for the exact same reason. Consistency is the single best word to describe what the Broncos have achieved over the last 6 years, and it's good to know that the tradition continues, even as the quality of their recruit's athleticism steps up. In a day of spoiled super stars it's very good to find young men like Jeremy Childs. His consistency is going to pay off in big ways for the Broncos this season. I'll go out on a limb and predict that Jeremy Childs will have a better season than any Bronco WR, this year or last. That mean's more completions than Jerard Rabb, (37), and more yards than Drisan James, (650). I'm not as certain that he'll be able to surpass James' average gain, (18.1), but even that's a possibility. In the end what will set ‘Big Play' Childs apart from the pack, isn't just the ‘Big Plays' he'll definitely achieve during games, but even more are the many, many ‘Big Plays' he daily achieves in practice.



"Full-stride speed enables a receiver who has the ball in the open field to be able to keep the separation with the closing defenders until he crosses the goal line. He doesn't have to out-run the defenders or gain ground on them just get to the goal line before the defenders do…The NFL has also had a few wide receivers with Olympic-level sprinting speed who lacked full-stride speed. As a result, they weren't able to score whenever they got tangled up with a defender and weren't able to get back into full stride quickly enough."


Toshi Franklin #21

Junior 6-1 182 Dos Pueblos HS, Goleta, CA

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThough Toshi has yet to make his first catch as a Bronco, it's not because of lack of ability He played in a California 'up and coming' league, while at Dos Pueblos HS, in Goleta CA. Using smarts, quickness and very nice routes, he managed to haul in 53 passes for 954 yards and 12 touchdowns, while averaging an impressive 16.8 YPC. He's currently second or third on the X side WR. Franklin makes for an interesting backup to Childs.


"Blocking is a whole different world from high school. I mean it's different from a receiving aspect as well, but blocking in college, it's just crazy."

Howard Croom, Oregon State TE


Julian Hawkins #82

6-3 229 Long Beach Poly HS, Long Beach, CA

Last year Legedu Naanee showed the opposition the headaches of trying to cover a big, strong wide receiver. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis year Julian Hawkins will be trying to take off where Legedu left off. Hawkins will surprise some people this year with his athleticism.  In the right situations he's going to make for some major match-up problems.  He came to Boise State from one of the nationally premier HS programs where he played tight end.  There he first learned to block, a skill we'll be seeing much of this season.


Ricky Cookman

Freshman 5-11 176 Clackamas HS, Clackamas, OR

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"The best hands in the northwest, if he gets a finger on it, he‘ll come down with the pigskin."  Yes.  Speaking of stiff competition, Ricky Cookman certainly fits that description.  In one particular game, he almost single handedly brought his Clack team back from a 14 point deficit, late in the fourth quarter.  The team's effort fell short, but Cookman‘s effort was described as "miraculous".  Now that is the kind of WR you want in those tough situations.

Cookman reminds me very much of Kip Bedard.  He wasn‘t the fastest, nor could he leap the highest, but he was damn smart, ran precise routes and if you got the ball anywhere near him, he came down with it. Also Cookman is said to bring some bad attitude with his blocking. Expect Cookman to red shirt this year.


Titus Young #4

Freshman 5-11, 170 University HS, Los Angeles, CA

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAnswer: What were UW, WSU, AZ, UO and UCLA

Question: What PAC 10 programs either offered Titus Young or had him high on their list of WR candidates?

Question: What stopped those who didn't offer him from extending an offering?

Answer: Titus Young had no film to send them.

Their loss, but Boise State's gain. The hard working Bronco staff had already done their homework on Young and knew how good he is.  At University HS in LA, Young had 66 catches and 1,359 yards and 2, 000 all-purpose yards and 20 TD's. Will we see him on the field this year?  I hope not, but like Pettis, he may be too good to be denied.


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