There's one major difference this year with the enthusiastic chatter about Boise State senior wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn.
The past two years, the expectations for a star-making season came from outside the program.
This year, they're coming from inside.
"His maturity is really showing," junior wide receiver Matt Miller said. " He's an unknown to a lot of people, and I think we can use that as a weapon. He's been laying in the weeds, and I think now he's going to jump out and make some big plays for us."
Boldewijn has exhibited that ability since his sophomore year, when he was a scrimmage all-star. But four-game NCAA suspensions to start his sophomore and junior years, a lack of polish for a player who lived in Amsterdam until his senior year of high school and inconsistent game-day performances have kept the local sensation from becoming a fearsome playmaker.
All that seems poised to change after eight months of commitment to preventing the problems of the past from creeping into his final season. Boldewijn (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) is bigger, stronger, more reliable at catching passes in tight coverage and better equipped to block.
"I feel like a totally different player," he said. "It's been a long process and I'm not there yet, but I'm definitely working toward it."
Boldewijn contributed 18 catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns last season. He made 19 for 266 and two TDs in 2011.
He carried good vibes into the offseason after a career-best performance in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas defeat of Washington, the same team the Broncos will face in the season opener Aug. 31 in Seattle (8:05 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports 1).
He set a career high with five catches for 59 yards - including a 16-yard touchdown.
"If he can have a season like he ended that last game, he's going to have a great year," offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Robert Prince said. "He worked hard in the spring and had a great spring and from what I'm hearing he did a great job in the summer. And he's having a great camp right now."
A breakout season would be a satisfying end to an arduous journey for Boldewijn, who moved to Boise for his senior year of high school to play football at Capital.
He lived with a host family and signed with Boise State, where he spent his first two years learning how to play college football. His expected emergence in 2011 was delayed by his first suspension - an NCAA penalty for impermissible benefits he received from his host family.
Trouble struck again in 2012 when he was suspended for the first four games in another incident tied to his host family.
He lost two-thirds of a season in total and in both cases had his biggest game in the bowl - a sign that it took some time to fit back into the offense.
"It was definitely a hard period," Boldewijn said. "It was a little bit stressful. I'm really thankful for my teammates and our coaches for being around. It would have been a lot harder without those guys."
Boldewijn is tight with his host family, a family that sent two children to study abroad and reciprocated with Boldewijn. He considers their five children brothers and sisters.
But he has limited contact with them mostly to phone calls and messages on social-networking websites since the NCAA suspensions.
"I really look at them as my family now," he said. "They know my family back home. They visited us back home in high school. We're really close - and once I'm done here we'll definitely pick up the relationship like how it used to be."
He also has a mother and three sisters back in Holland. He usually visits them during the winter and summer breaks. His mom and oldest sister have visited Boise, but none of them have seen him play a college football game in person.
That likely will change on senior day, when Boldewijn expects all four to be on the Blue for the pregame ceremony.
"My mom has seen it on TV, but I think she'll definitely be overwhelmed when she's in the stadium," Boldewijn said. "I don't think she has an idea how big it really is."
His future plans are unclear. He'll give pro football a try after earning his business degree in December. He'd like to start a career in international business after that.
"It's kind of scary," he said. "I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do. If not (pro football), I'm hoping to stay in America a little bit longer to try to get a little more experience besides school and football. I'm young. I'm still trying to explore."
First, he hopes to explore end zones from Seattle to San Diego. His combination of size, speed (4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and range (38-inch vertical leap) makes him a matchup nightmare.
The same is true of his roommate, senior wide receiver Aaron Burks (6-3, 205, 4.28 40, 43-inch vertical).
"The stage is set for those guys to take the next step," coach Chris Petersen said, "and if they do, it'll take this pass game to the next level."
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat