It is no fun being the weak link, so it's understandable that Boise State's wide receivers are a little upset with being called that. "But we also understand why people say it," says sophomore Geraldo Boldewijn. "You look at our offense, and it is clear which group needs to step up." The Broncos have one of the best quarterbacks in the country (senior Kellen Moore), a standout running back (senior Doug Martin) and an offensive line dotted with veterans and future NFL players. Their defense, led by an exceptional front four, will also be strong. But with Titus Young and Austin Pettis (a combined 142 catches for 2,166 yards in 2010) having moved on to the NFL, the team's chances of once again contending for a national title are hitched to the development of an unproven and unheralded set of wideouts.
"Going back through the history of Boise State, there have been a number of years when we have had what could be called a committee of pass catchers," says receivers coach Robert Prince. "I think this is one of those years. We have to use everyone's strengths."
If you combined the best traits of each wide receiver, you'd have an All-America. Senior Tyler Shoemaker (32 receptions last season) is a good route runner and blocker. Sophomore Kirby Moore, Kellen's younger brother, has excellent hands, and juniors Mitch Burroughs and Chris Potter are, in Prince's words, "Wes Welker types who can really run after the catch."
Then there is Boldewijn, the most physically gifted of the group (6'4", with a sub-4.4 40 time). He was born in the Netherlands and did not play 11-on-11 football until moving to Boise for his senior year of high school. While he had only 11 catches last season, he made great strides in the spring. "If you are picking a team just based on how a player looks, you are picking him first," says Prince. "He looks like you would want a wideout to look. But he has a learning curve."
Boldewijn believes the receivers will get the job done—partly because he knows they only need to be just good enough. "We have the defense," says Boldewijn. "We have Doug running behind our offensive line. And we have Kellen. Having a quarterback like that, he'll make everyone look good."
3 vs. Georgia
16 at Toledo
7 at Fresno State
15 at Colorado State
22 Air Force
5 at UNLV
19 at San Diego State
3 New Mexico
Led the Broncos in sacks (9½) in 2010 and is versatile enough to play standing up or as a down lineman.
The 6'6" 300-pounder will pair with junior guard Joe Kellogg to form one of the best left sides in the country.
Gained 6.3 yards per carry last season, and his 12 touchdowns was a team high.
Conference Mountain West
Coach Chris Petersen (6th year)
2010 Record 12--1 (7--1 in WAC)
Final AP Rank 9
Returning Starters 14
Offense 7, Defense 7
ANDREW FIELDING/SOUTHCREEK GLOBAL/ZUMAPRESS.COM (BOLDEWIJN)
The Netherlands-born Boldewijn, who changed his surname from Hiwat in the off-season to honor his mother, showed potential—and speed—as a freshman.
SIMON BRUTY (MARTIN)