This is not how Mitch Burroughs envisioned his senior season playing out.
The Mountain Wests preseason pick for special teams player of the year wasnt supposed to injure his wrist in the fifth game, sidelining him for the heart of the season.
The former Meridian High star wasnt supposed to spend more time coaching the Broncos other wide receivers than catching passes.
But Burroughs, who has been cleared to play in the regular-season finale against Nevada, hasnt allowed the setback to affect his attitude or his desire to help the Broncos.
To be depressed, if not mad and all those other things that come with it and moping around, we havent even kind of seen that, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. Hes been tremendous for the teammates and certainly for the coaches.
It was supposed to be the cap to a long and successful Bronco career. Burroughs grayshirted in 2007 and redshirted in 2008, earning the teams offensive scout team player of the year award. He earned playing time as a freshman and sophomore, catching 17 passes over those two seasons as part of a talented receiving corps.
Last season, Burroughs broke out in a variety of roles. He caught 49 passes for 500 yards and one touchdown and he averaged 13.2 yards per punt return on 18 attempts. He rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Burroughs entire career had been building to his senior season, a steady progression.
And then he went up for a pass in the end zone against a few defenders at Southern Miss on Oct. 6. As he fell to the ground, Burroughs put out his right arm to brace the fall.
Almost immediately, the 5-foot-9, 193-pounder knew something was wrong.
I kind of felt maybe something wasnt right. I kind of could tell right away, he said.
The diagnosis: a broken right wrist and torn ligaments. He underwent surgery within days. Burroughs quickly set a date for a return Dec. 1 at Nevada.
I definitely wanted to at least try and make it back before the end of the regular season, said Burroughs, who has been cleared for full contact but is shaking hands with his left hand to protect his wrist.
As he worked his way back, Burroughs took on another role coach. He did whatever he could, imparted as much wisdom as teammates would accept and tried to help wherever he was needed.
The coaches have given me a pretty cool opportunity to still be a part of things and help out as much as I can, and its been fun, he said. Its awesome to be able to help these guys and take what they maybe need help with or maybe something I know and help them out a little bit with it.
He explained technique. He taught details of the offense. He put on a headset at Hawaii.
Hes ready to call plays, Petersen said. Hes done a great job. Sometimes youve got to go through this to figure out how much you appreciate a guy. He hasnt missed a beat. As devastating as this is for him to miss this much football, youd never know how hard that is on him.
... Its been amazing.
Burroughs has definitely thought about being a coach when his playing days are over. He may have gotten a jump start during the past few months.
This has been an experience that will open my eyes for the future, said Burroughs, who has caught 12 passes for 124 yards this season.
But Burroughs still has some eligibility left. And that means he wants to play two more games.
He wasnt cleared two weeks ago for Colorado State, but offensive coordinator Robert Prince figured out a way to get Burroughs on the field for the first play. Burroughs lined up wide left of the formation. Senior running back D.J. Harper got the carry on a play to the right and turned it into an 80-yard touchdown.
Burroughs didnt do anything. He hardly moved, really. That didnt matter.
It was awesome he gave me the opportunity to do that and it was really special to me that I got to go out there, even if just for a play, on Senior Day, Burroughs said.
Now he gets two more games to put a proper end on his senior season. As expected, Burroughs isnt concerned about catches or touchdowns.
Whatever I can do to help the team win is the main thing, he said. Whatever I can do.
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Brian Murphy: 377-6444