When Haden Hoggarth needed time away from football, he found what he needed 1,000 miles from home.
When the itch to play arose two years later, the answer was twice as far. And both destinations were thanks to a little help from Google.
Hoggarth, a junior kicker at Boise State, is 4-for-4 on field goals through two games. His path to the Broncos was as unbelievable as his sudden rise to reliability.
The Florida native played as a freshman in 2014 at Bethune-Cookman, a Football Championship Subdivision school in his home state. It was not a pleasant time, one he said “was a rough experience.” He spent two years out of football, taking online classes and training for his next stop.
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Phone calls were made and e-mails were sent across the country with his 2014 video and clips of him kicking in workouts. The interest was strong, with two dozen Division II offers, a handful of FCS offers and walk-on chances at a few FBS schools. Hoggarth was set to play at North Carolina State, but after co-special teams coach Clayton White left for Western Kentucky in December, Hoggarth went to Google.
“I didn’t have a place to go. ... I kind of Googled ‘good culture football programs,’ and Boise State came up,” Hoggarth said. “I just knew I wanted to be a part of some place that had a good family feeling.
“They didn’t guarantee me anything, but I knew I’d put in the work and I just bet on myself at the end of the day.”
Suffice it to say, it was a smart wager.
Boise State special teams coordinator Kent Riddle perhaps lightly described Hoggarth’s approach as “persistent,” and gave him a shot in spring practices on a tryout basis. Hoggarth performed well but took it to another level in fall camp, edging out redshirt freshman Joel Velazquez.
Against Washington State, two of the three field goals he made came in overtime.
“Haden was very good in all those situations,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... He’s just been very consistent.
“Came in here in the spring and he was OK. Spring through summer and into fall camp, something happened. He just emerged.”
Hoggarth found the fit he wanted in Boise, even if he never had been remotely close to Idaho before. But he at least knew he could get out of his comfort zone.
After leaving the team at Bethune-Cookman, Hoggarth took classes that spring as a regular student. The summer of 2015, he wanted a job, and a friend’s mom mentioned how he had a skill in working with kids. To Google he went.
“I really wanted to get away from football, and kind of the world, too,” Hoggarth said. “So, I looked up summer camp counselor jobs — and I found one, Camp Cobbossee, which was an all-boys, sports-centric camp up in Maine.”
When he got off the plane, he thought to himself, “What am I doing here?”
“I was in charge of eight kids, 13 to 14 years old, like a bunch of little brothers I never asked for,” Hoggarth said. “It was one of the best summers of my life, though, really enjoyed it and kind of let me refocus on what I wanted to do.”
Hoggarth is one of eight kickers in the FBS who has attempted at least four field goals and made all of them.
“It’s awesome. I’m living a dream right now,” Hoggarth said.
TICKET SALES SLOW FOR THURSDAY AND SEASON
The last time Boise State played in front of a crowd of fewer than 30,000 at Albertsons Stadium when there weren’t single-digit temperatures for a regular-season game was Chris Petersen’s debut as head coach.
But Thursday’s 6 p.m. game against New Mexico is in danger of being the first such contest since Aug. 31, 2006, to have that small of a crowd. The school reported Tuesday evening that approximately 26,000 tickets have been sold for the game against the Lobos.
Since the Broncos beat Sacramento State 45-0 in front of 29,647 in Petersen’s first game, they have played in front of at least 30,000 at home 67 of their 68 home games. The 27,478 on hand for Nov. 15, 2014’s win over San Diego State was the exception, when temperatures at kickoff were in the single digits. Thursday’s forecast at kickoff projects temperatures in the mid-60s.
Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey said five days before the Broncos’ season opener there were about 9,000 to 10,000 tickets available, but he was confident there would be an uptick in sales.
There was, as the announced attendance was 31,581 for Sept. 2’s game against Troy. But that is unlikely to happen again, coming off a loss and only two days before kickoff. Albertsons Stadium’s capacity is 36,387.
Sagging attendance also is a product of a slow season-ticket market. Boise State reported Tuesday its final season-ticket total is 17,633. That’s a drop of nearly 2,000 from last season and the lowest since selling 17,537 in 2004.
“We’re down, we’re not where we want to be,” Apsey said Aug. 28.
CEDRICK WILSON INSPIRED, THEN DOMINATED
Senior wide receiver Cedrick Wilson is going to be a focus for opposing defenses all season, but he still is going to find ways to make plays.
Take Saturday’s game at Washington State — he tied a career high with nine receptions and had 147 yards with a pair of touchdowns. His 106 receiving yards per game thus far is No. 2 in the Mountain West.
“Ced had a different look in his eye. You could tell that he wanted the ball,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.
Thursday’s matchup could be advantageous, too, as Wilson had nine catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns last season at New Mexico.
GABE PEREZ HAPPY TO BE BACK ON THE FIELD
It was a long wait for Boise State senior linebacker Gabe Perez, who stepped into Saturday’s game at Washington State and made a pair of tackles. Perez missed the last eight games of 2016 and all of 2015 with shoulder injuries. He said during fall camp he had considered hanging it up, but wanted to play one last season.
“It felt amazing,” Perez said.
Dave Southorn is the Boise State football reporter for the Idaho Statesman.
Five questions with Haden Hoggarth
We know being a kicker isn’t easy, but what’s the best part?
“I think you’re just naturally accepted by the team. They know it can be tough, so you get embraced pretty quickly. Sometimes you lose your name, you’re just ‘the kicker,’ but it’s all in fun. And the other specialists, you can joke around with them. We’re our own little show.”
Whenever football is done, what do you want to do?
“I’m pre-med right now, so I’d like to go back to Florida and go to medical school. I like working with kids, too, so I’m thinking maybe becoming a pediatrician.”
What’s the biggest shock moving here from Florida?
“The snow. I love the community, the school is great, I like the coaches. Seeing the mountains, I don’t feel like they’re real. This winter was a pretty crazy introduction.”
What did you like to watch growing up?
“I really liked the movie ‘Heavyweights.’ I wound up working at a summer camp, so that’s kind of ironic. I really liked ‘The Sandlot,’ my brother played baseball at Boston College, so we grew up as a sports family.”
What’s a favorite way for you to wind down?
“With the pre-med stuff and football, there’s not a ton of time. I live with non-athletes, so it’s cool to kind of get that experience. But I like to play video games, grew up playing Mario Kart, some of those classics. I’m excited for Call Of Duty: WWII to come out. Joel (Velazquez) and I will be playing that a lot whenever we get the chance.”
New Mexico at Boise State
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf); the team will wear all-orange uniforms, fans are asked to wear orange, too
TV: ESPN (Dave Flemming, Brock Huard, Laura Rutledge)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 1-1 (lost to Washington State 47-44 in 3OT); New Mexico 1-1 (lost to New Mexico State 30-28)
Series: Boise State leads 7-1 (beat Lobos 49-21 in Albuquerque last year)
Vegas line: Boise State by 16
Kickoff weather: Mid-60s, partly cloudy