Boise State camp report: Newcomers on board

ccripe@idahostatesman.comAugust 6, 2013 

The Boise State Broncos began fall camp Monday on the university's intramural field.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com

  • Player spotlight on ... WR Matt Miller

    Matt Miller is the most accomplished offensive skill player for the Broncos but doesn’t get much notice outside of Boise. He was an All-Mountain West second-teamer last season.

    That could change this year if Miller’s improved speed makes an impact.

    He has 128 catches and 14 touchdowns in two seasons, but his 11.3-yard average per catch is a possession number, not an explosive one.

    Miller knows his speed work has paid off because some of the Broncos’ defensive backs have noticed, he said.

    “I’ve had a few of them comment,” he said. “If I can put the deep ball into my game, it can really help out.”

    Miller set career highs with 66 catches for 769 yards last season. He made 62 for 679 as a freshman, when he scored nine of his TDs.

    “He’s been our workhorse,” offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Robert Prince said.

    — Chadd Cripe

— Boise State added nine previously unannounced players Monday on the first day of fall camp, building the roster to 104 players.

The newcomers include QB Richard Hoppe (St. Helena, Calif.), WR Terrell Johnson (not provided), WR David McKinzie (not provided), LS Matt Cota (Eagle High), DB Brandon Brown (not provided), OL Mason Hampton (Meridian High), OL James Meager (not provided), DT James Tucker (Rocky Mountain High) and DE Austin Silsby (Kuna High).

Hoppe replaces transfer Jimmy Laughrea to give the Broncos five quarterbacks. He planned to play club baseball at Boise State before he was offered a walk-on spot on the football team.

News and notes

• All of the 2013 recruits joined the team except defensive lineman Durrant Miles (mission) and wide receiver Kendal Keys (parted ways with the program). Tight end Alec Dhaenens of Fruitland High, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament last season, was expected to grayshirt. He's fully recovered and joined the team now instead.

• Newcomer Thomas Sperbeck, who was recruited as an athlete and penciled in as a safety, has moved to wide receiver. He was a high school quarterback.

• Notable number changes include CB Cleshawn Page (3), S Darian Thompson (4), CB Donte Deayon (5), CB Chaz Anderson (6), WR Troy Ware (14), CB Deon'tae Florence (29), DE Kharyee Marshall (48), RT Rees Odhiambo (71) and TE Jake Hardee (84).

• Among the significant weight changes: true freshman RB Aaron Baltazar reported at 215, 30 pounds heavier than listed on signing day; sophomore tight end Holden Huff, who has struggled to gain weight in the past, is up 15 pounds to 236; and junior defensive end Beau Martin is up 13 pounds to 271.

• The Oct. 12 game at Utah State has been pushed back a half-hour to 6 p.m.

• Boise State began construction late last month on the new video board for Bronco Stadium. The frame that will hold the board is visible atop the Bleymaier Football Complex, and the project is scheduled to be completed sometime in September.

Camp impressions

• The passing game looked sharp, particularly with senior starter Joe Southwick at the helm, in the veterans practice. Sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes, as he did in the spring, made catches all over the field. Senior defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe forced two fumbles with sacks of junior backup quarterback Grant Hedrick on consecutive plays.

Offensive coordinator Robert Prince said the Broncos are “eons ahead’’ of last year on offense with Southwick in his second year as the starter.

“Last year, it was a big question mark. Nobody really knew,’’ junior wide receiver Matt Miller said. “This year, Joe’s the guy, so it’s one less thing to worry about. ... We could be really dangerous.’’

Miller worked with Southwick on a daily basis through the summer. Prince couldn’t because of NCAA rules, but saw him in the football complex so often he joked that the quarterback needed an office of his own.

“He had a great summer,’’ Miller said. “You saw it today. He was throwing some really good passes in there. He did that all summer. He worked on it really hard, threw a lot of balls after (player-run practices), after workouts. I think it’s really going to show up this year.’’

• The newcomers practice in the afternoon was predictably more ragged. Linebacker Mat Boesen and cornerback Mercy Maston grabbed interceptions. Wide receiver Tanner Shipley made an 85-yard TD catch. And the bulked-up Baltazar looked quick on one nifty run in a team setting and showed some grit during the newcomers' conditioning test.

• Coach Chris Petersen’s camper of the day was sophomore safety Darian Thompson. “Darian had a really good summer. He came into camp in top-notch shape, and he knows what he’s doing out here. He picked up right where he left off at the end of last season,’’ Petersen told BroncoSports.com.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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