Breaking Out

The receivers on the Boise State team have shown flashes of brilliance but have not exploded for eye-popping numbers. This could be the year they do just that. (Please note: Photo is provided by Foto208--all rights are reserved.)

Boise State has developed an amazing tradition of reloading at the receiver spots.  In 1999, when the Broncos began their current run, Lou Fanucchi, Billy Wingfield and Jay Swillie made for a dynamic trio.  On their own as the star of another team, they likely would have had 80-plus receptions each.  Together, they combined for headaches galore for opposing defenses, because they couldn't just concentrate on one of them.  Most teams did not have the depth to cover all three.  

Bronco fans thought they were the best receiving corps ever, hated to see them go, and were wondering how Boise State could replace them.  Then Tim Gilligan, T.J. Acree and Lawrence Bady emerged and the team continued its winning ways.  A trio of receivers followed named Drisan James, Legedu Naanee and Gerard Rabb and Boise State won a famous bowl game with that group on January 1, 2007 .  How do you replace those Three Amigos?  

Jeremy Childs was one answer and he was due to play his senior year this season but decided to enter the National Football League draft instead.  The Broncos are out of luck, right?   

If you thought so, you wouldn't be a very good student of recent history.  The Boise State coaches have been uncanny at uncovering the hidden gems in the college football recruiting world.  Brock Forsey.  Tim Brady.  Colt Brooks.  Vinny Perretta.  Ryan Winterswyk.  Those are some of the walk-ons who have gone on to great success at Boise State.  

Enter the young man who is going to be the next one:  Tyler Shoemaker (6-1, 207, So.) out of Mountain View High School in Meridian .  An All-State player as a senior, he has improved by leaps and bounds.  He led all receivers with six catches in Boise State 's first fall scrimmage.  Even a casual Bronco fan will remember him catching two touchdowns last year from Kellen Moore and Bush Hamdan against Idaho State .  The more avid fans among us are jumping up and down about this guy.  

Austin Pettis has been working hard in the offseason and should be even better this fall.  That's interesting, because Bronco fans are already quite happy with this talented receiver.  The consummate possession receiver, Pettis runs great routes and has great hands and incredible leaping ability.  At 6-3, Pettis poses matchup problems with smaller defensive backs.  Pettis was second on the team with 46 receptions as a freshman with 465 yards and six touchdowns.  Pettis has blossomed before our eyes, grabbing 49 receptions for 567 yards and nine touchdowns.  And he's only a junior.  Fans looking for #87 at wide receiver will be scratching their heads—he's now #2.   

Titus Young (5-11, 170, Jr.) like Pettis played as a freshman and showed so much promise.  On the field, he can't be beat.  The rest of the Bronco team needs to help Titus along, for he can make big contributions to the team this fall.  He caught 44 passes for 639 yards and five scores as a freshman.  Bronco fans would love to see similar numbers this fall, for that would mean Young has developed as the player and the man everyone wants him to be.   

There's a bevy of talent behind those three.  Mitch Burroughs (5-9, 188) was Boise State 's Offensive Scout Player of the Year last season and is more than ready to show what he can do as a redshirt freshman.  He was the Southern Idaho Conference Player of the Year as a junior at Meridian High School , totaling 994 yards receiving on 56 receptions with 23 touchdowns.  He also played running back that season and gained 650 yards on 100 carries.  Burroughs joined the Bronco program in 2008 initially as a grayshirt.  He's ready.   

Chris Potter (5-9, 161) earned All-California three times at Oak Christian High School and the prized 2008 recruit is eager to show what he can do after a redshirt season.  He was named the L.A. Daily News Offensive Player of the Year as a quarterback his senior year.  Potter played receiver prior to that, catching 48 passes as a junior, 35 as a sophomore and 34 as a freshman.  

Senior Michael Choate (6-0,190) will also see the field this fall.  Boise State continues to land recruits in more of the 50 states--Choate came to the Broncos from Haviland , Kansas .   

Aaron Burks (6-2, 186) has been lighting it up in practice; the Grand Praire, Texas star was named all-conference as a senior in high school, hauling in 32 passes for 535 yards and four touchdowns.  Add in Kirby Moore (6-2, 196, Fr.) and Geraldo Hiwat (6-4, 189, Fr.) and you have a great supporting cast to Pettis, Young and Shoemaker should the need arise.  It is the general feeling in Bronco circles that one of these true freshmen will play this fall. 

Moore had 131 receptions for 2,126 yards and 34 TD's (breaking his own Washington state record) as a senior, 75 catches for 1,350 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior, 61 receptions for 788 yards and 18 scores as a sophomore and he grabbed 37 passes for 645 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman.  Moore did not just break the 12 year-old national record of 73 career high school receiving touchdowns; he completely shattered it by getting 95.  Hiwat played one season at Capital High School and was named All-Southern Idaho Conference, catching 41 passes for 502 yards and five touchdowns and returning six punts for a 17.8 average.  

Jake Johnston (5-11, 186, Fr.) and Preston Minter (5-8, 177, Fr.) walked on this fall and the former Eagle High School and Timberline High School stars, respectively, hope to continue the great tradition of local walk-ons that enjoy success at Boise State.  Johnston earned all-conference honors as a senior; Minter earned 10 varsity letters at Timberline.   

Boise State 's history of tight end has been one of reloading as well in recent years.  First there was Jeb Putzier, whose amazing combination of size and speed was a thing of beauty.  Jeb is entering his ninth season in the National Football League in his second tour of duty with the Denver Broncos.  Derek Schouman was a four-year player in much the same mold of Putzier.  A great blocker with blazing speed, Schouman now starts for the Buffalo Bills.  Julian Hawkins was the next in line after Schouman and Hawkins is now with the Dallas Cowboys.   

It is difficult to imagine Boise State's current two tight ends, junior Tommy Gallarda (6-5, 250) and sophomore Kyle Efaw (6-4, 229) not joining that trio in the professional ranks.  They both are excellent blockers and receivers.  Last fall, former Capital High School star Kyle Efaw began to develop into the type of player Boise State envisioned.  Efaw had 17 catches for 262 yards (15.4 per catch).  Gallarda had six catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns last season.  Richie Brockel (6-2, 240) is one of only five seniors on the Bronco roster—he'll see time at both fullback and tight end.  

Trevor Peterson (6-2, 245, Fr.) was one of the gems of last year's recruiting class, making the all-conference team in Camino , California three consecutive years.  Gabe Linehan (6-3, 213, Fr.) was another of the great 2009 recruits, as Boise State stole the Banks, Oregon product right from under the Ducks and Beavers.  Linehan is a talented athlete who was named All-Oregon as a linebacker his senior year.  Linehan had 130 tackles, 18 for loss, three sacks and an interception for a touchdown.  He also played quarterback, throwing for over 3,900 yards in 17 games.  Chandler Koch (6-2, 244, Fr.) is yet another tremendous talent and another gem plucked from the Texas recruiting hotbed.  As a senior, Koch was named as the #3 tight end in the Dallas - Fort Worth area and #35 in the country (ESPN.com), catching 24 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown.  

Sean King (6-3, 240, Jr.) will look for playing time this season as well.  The former Timberline High School product walked on in 2008 and redshirted last season.   

It is truly amazing what the Boise State coaching staff has been able to do in continuing to find gems in each recruiting class at each position, and the ten-year history of receivers exemplifies this talent.  How do they do it?  Bronco fans don't know for sure, but they are thrilled at the talent level of the 2009 receivers.


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