It is not quite light outside when Boise State players start to trickle into the Bleymaier Football Center.
Three waves of Broncos hit the weight room starting at 7 a.m. four days a week. At 10 a.m., they run.
A month after ending the 2016 season with a loss to Baylor in the Cactus Bowl, and more than seven months until the season-opener against Troy, the team has begun preparing for the next campaign.
“It’s taken a little bit to get back to full speed. They’re working us hard, making sure we get the most out of every little workout,” junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. “It’s great to get back into the weight room, get ready for spring and next season, too.”
The Broncos were back into winter workouts and conditioning Jan. 17, a week after the start of the spring semester.
“We’re trying to get guys built back up, so it’s a lot of lifting,” strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman said. “We can’t go run Camel’s Back or run the decks at the stadium, so a lot of short-burst type stuff right now, working on explosiveness.”
Lifting and running drills take place Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Junior defensive tackle David Moa says he’s usually at the facility at 6:15 a.m. for the “big guys” lift at 7 a.m., and said a majority of the players come Wednesday and Saturday for optional work.
“We’ll come on Wednesday and do some cardio, (defensive end) Sam Whitney and I like to do upper-body stuff on Saturdays,” Moa said. “We’re watching a lot of film on our own, looking at teams like Air Force, the teams in our division.”
Winter workouts have been a topic of discussion in the college football world after three Oregon players were hospitalized earlier this month. The Ducks have a new staff this year. While balancing getting the most out of every allotted session without overworking is key, Pitman said experience with the Broncos allows them to know just how to do that.
“This staff has been here three years now, so we know these guys well, cut reps for the new guys, and those ones that have been here, we can push when we need to or pull back,” Pitman said. “The first few days, like usual, were a little tough, but they’re getting back into it now, working hard.”
In the players’ minds, they’re pushing themselves harder after ending a season with back-to-back losses for the first time since 2007.
“I feel like the workouts this year are a lot more intense, especially having not finished the season like we wanted to,” Moa said. “I feel like everyone has that competitive edge, that chip on their shoulder.”
Pitman said some of the early workout warriors have been Moa, Vander Esch, Whitney, quarterback Brett Rypien and wide receiver Sean Modster. As the team looks ahead to spring practices, which start in March, it also is not forgetting how last season ended not with a bang, but a thud.
“We’re not going to go through that again (this) year,” Vander Esch said.
For a second straight day, Boise State picked up a commitment from a wide receiver. Damon Cole of El Cerrito (Calif.) High tweeted Monday he has selected the Broncos over Nevada, New Mexico and San Jose State. The 6-foot, 175 pounder is rated by Scout.com as the No. 18 wide receiver in the West and a three-star prospect. The Broncos picked up a commitment from Center (Texas) High receiver Octavius Evans on Sunday. Cole and Evans visited Boise over the weekend. ... Walk-on quarterbacks Cam Humphrey and Anthony Upshaw are no longer with the team. Humphrey’s father, Ron, confirmed he has transferred to Saddleback (Calif.) College.