The same week March Madness hits Boise, there will be actual football taking place a few hundred yards away from Taco Bell Arena.
Yes, Boise State football spring practices start Monday. Sure, the season doesn’t start for nearly six months, but the 15 practices give veterans a chance to work on fundamentals or to recover, and the newcomers a chance to show coaches what they’ve got.
“You don’t want to play your starters in spring ball a whole lot,” running backs coach Lee Marks said.
Last spring, one of the standouts was redshirt freshman Avery Williams, who showed he was adept not only as a returner, but as a defender. He wound up starting by the end of September. So, who could be the next Williams, a spring star who hasn’t yet played a down for the Broncos? Here are five to keep in mind the next month of practices, which conclude with April 14’s spring game:
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DRAKE BEASLEY, RB
Marks said Beasley, a redshirt freshman, and sophomore Robert Mahone will get the lion’s share of work this spring. Beasley, who did not play his senior season in high school because of eligibility issues, “has unbelievable vision,” according to Marks.
Beasley (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) very nearly played last season, but Alexander Mattison, Ryan Wolpin and Mahone played well enough to keep him as a redshirt.
“In the first game of the season, we had four plays where he would’ve been in. We just didn’t call them,” Marks said. “It had nothing to do with him, we just didn’t call them … it ended up working out for him in the long run. We would’ve been a little bit more forced to play him if he played.”
TYREQUE JONES, S
He’s part of a very deep group at safety, but the 6-2, 196-pound redshirt freshman looks the part of a physical safety, and earned defensive scout team player of the year honors last season. Safeties coach Gabe Franklin said “it’s going to be fun for him” as he transitions off scout team while working with veterans like Kekoa Nawahine and DeAndre Pierce.
“He’s a big kid, he always brings a lot of energy to practice,” Nawahine said. “He’s fun to be around and he’s pretty smart for how young he is.”
EZEKIEL NOA, LB
Though he redshirted last season, Noa had the talent to play right away, but it was necessary as he recovered from January surgery on a torn ACL.
“Most definitely – Zeke was a highly-recruited guy for all the right reasons … he’s very talented,” defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “We’re excited to get him going.
Noa recovered in time to practice late last season, so he won’t be too rusty. Avalos said he should be among the group competing for time at weakside linebacker, the spot vacated by NFL-bound Leighton Vander Esch. The 5-11, 246-pound Noa had 9.5 sacks on defense, and scored nine touchdowns on offense his senior year of high school.
ISIAH MOORE, OL
Perhaps the most touted signee in the 2017 class, he also had offers from West Virginia and UCLA coming out of Mesa (Ariz.) Community College. Moore (6-4, 282) did not play last season, even when the line struggled. allowing the Broncos to use his redshirt year.
He can play guard or tackle, and after arriving last summer, knows the system better. The Broncos graduated two starters off the 2017 squad.
“Isiah’s done a good job this offseason, he’s getting bigger, he’s getting stronger,” offensive line coach Brad Bedell said. “I know a lot of people thought he’d come in and play right away ... he did nothing wrong. He worked his tail off. I thought he needed some maturing to do, to get bigger and stronger, and that’s what he’s doing.”
CHASE CORD, QB
With only two other scholarship quarterbacks, Cord saw some work alongside the veterans last fall in addition to the usual scout team work. He served as Montell Cozart’s backup the week of the New Mexico game after a head injury forced Brett Rypien out.
The 6-2, 202-pound Cord sure looks like the quarterback of the future. Offensive coordinator Zak Hill had high praise last month, saying “he’s got a strong arm, he’s accurate, he’s athletic.” Cord will vie for the backup role behind Rypien alongside junior college transfer Jaylon Henderson. Boise State hasn’t been afraid to find a role for quarterbacks who perform well in practice to provide a change of pace.
NOTES: Boise State coach Bryan Harsin will address the media at approximately 11 a.m. Monday following the first spring practice. Check facebook.com/boisestatesports for his live news conference. ... The Broncos released the spring roster Sunday afternoon. Senior Skyler Seibold has moved from safety to running back, while junior Garrett Collingham has moved from linebacker to tight end.