Blake Whitlock is the only senior linebacker on the Boise State roster — and this is the first set of spring practices in his football career. Barring injury, they’ll be the only ones if this proves to be his last season playing the sport.
“I’m going to make the most of it. I’ve been trying to play as many plays as I can, ask coaches if I can squeeze in some extra reps at other positions,” Whitlock said.
This time last year, Whitlock considered giving up football after his redshirt sophomore season at Saddleback (Calif.) College, until Boise State offered a walk-on opportunity in the summer.
Not only did Whitlock take it, he thrived, earning a scholarship in fall camp and playing in all 13 games, starting five. He had 36 tackles and a pair of sacks.
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“I sit back and kind of laugh about it. It’s something I dreamed about, but you never know if it’s really going to happen,” Whitlock said. “... Now that I’ve done all this, it’s kind of ‘what can I do next?’ That’s what this spring’s been for me.”
Whitlock said he needed time to “catch up” after going from junior college to a reserve role to stepping in as a starter after Tanner Vallejo was lost for the season. He said his goal this season is to emulate Vallejo’s reputation as a physical presence on the field.
He has mainly played at the strongside linebacker spot, but defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said he could be the type of player who can, as he has in practice, play multiple positions.
“The thing Blake did when he got here, he latched onto Tanner, those really good players, and just their habits of how they do things and he started to show those same types of habits,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... Everything he needs to be doing, he’s doing.”
NEWS AND NOTES
▪ Harsin praised junior wide receiver Sean Modster and senior running back Ryan Wolpin on Tuesday when reflecting on the first half of spring practices.
On Modster, Harsin said: “I’ve been really impressed with Sean Modster, I think he’s done a really good job to this point. He’s been consistent, he’s made plays.”
On Wolpin: “He’s probably been one of the most physical players we’ve had in spring practice. I’ve been very impressed with him.”
▪ Boise State’s annual pro day is Thursday, starting at 11 a.m. with weight room testing, and on-field work at approximately noon. A live stream will be available at BroncoSports.com, starting at 11:45 a.m.
Sixteen participants have been confirmed, 12 who were seniors on last season’s team: Vallejo, WR Chaz Anderson, OL Travis Averill, CB Raymond Ford, S Chanceller James, DE Sam McCaskill, CB Jonathan Moxey, K Tyler Rausa, WR Thomas Sperbeck, Punter Sean Wale, LB Ben Weaver and OL Mario Yakoo.
The four players who graduated prior are TE Holden Huff, WR Terrell Johnson, DT Armand Nance and RB back Kelsey Young.
▪ Harsin said there have been no notable injuries in the spring, and some players who did not take part in the first two weeks, namely offensive linemen John Molchon, Mason Hampton and Garrett Larson, were doing some light non-padded work Monday.
Running back Alexander Mattison has practiced this spring, but has not been involved in any contact drills.