Broncos aim to fill specialist positions

Idaho StatesmanMarch 20, 2007 

The Boise State football team lost its first-team All-WAC kicker, second-team All-WAC punter, unflappable long snapper-holder combo and former All-American return man off last year's team.

High-energy special teams coach Jeff Choate has his own spin on the bare cupboard.

"I like the challenge," he said. "It's an opportunity for some guys on this team to step up."

Only one of those roles has a sure-fire, can't-miss answer.

The Broncos are loaded with players capable of making big plays in the return game.

Safety Marty Tadman, cornerback Kyle Wilson, receiver Jeremy Childs and running back Stew Tracy are working as punt returners. Tadman averaged 8.9 yards a return last year, and Wilson is the team's fastest player.

Cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick, Rashaun Scott and Cade Hulbert and receiver Vinny Perretta are kickoff returners. Scandrick is particularly intriguing because he has returned a blocked field goal, two blocked PATs and an interception for points in his career.

"That's just a great opportunity to get a dynamic guy the ball," Choate said.

The other specialist jobs hold some mystery.

Strong-legged redshirt freshman Kyle Brotzman is expected to win the kicking job, but he must improve his consistency and prove himself in pressure situations. He would have been the kickoff specialist last year, when Anthony Montgomery handled field goals, but Choate didn't want to burn Brotzman's year of eligibility.

True freshman Brad Elkin is expected to win the punting job. He joins the team in August. Brotzman and fellow kicker David Lowery are punting this spring so BSU can practice coverage and returns.

"How mentally tough (Elkin) is we'll find out," Choate said. "In terms of being capable of coming in and playing for us, I don't think there's any doubt. He has that type of talent."

The long snapper, the most important player nobody talks about, likely will come from a group including linebacker Dallas Dobbs, tight end Chris O'Neill and tight end Sherm Blaser. The short snappers, used for field goals, are offensive linemen Jeff Cavender and Paul Lucariello.

The holder candidates are quarterback Taylor Tharp and wide receiver Tanyon Bissell.

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