The Boise State football team's two incoming quarterbacks will be asked to take a different approach than most previous recruits at that position.
Because the Broncos only have two returning scholarship quarterbacks, offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin wants Joe Southwick of California and Mike Tamburo of Georgia to come to fall camp ready to compete for the third-string job.
Southwick and Tamburo signed letters of intent Wednesday.
"They're going to be coming in here and probably have more on their plates than we've had with our young quarterbacks in the past," Harsin said, "and I think they understand that and I think that was an exciting part for them, too."
Sophomore Kellen Moore, the WAC Freshman of the Year, is the returning starter. Junior Mike Coughlin, who has seen spot action over the past two seasons, is the backup. Redshirt freshman walk-on Drew Hawkins also returns.
The Broncos' depth took a hit when Nick Lomax, who would have been a senior this year, transferred before the 2008 season. That's why they signed two quarterbacks for the first time since Jared Zabransky and Legedu Naanee in 2002.
Quarterback, in fact, was coach Chris Petersen's No. 1 priority for this class.
"That's hard to get two guys in that same class," Petersen said. "We feel very good about both those kids."
Southwick and Tamburo bring a different element to the position. Southwick (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) is a pocket passer, but he also is a dangerous scrambler with good athleticism. The speedy Tamburo (6-0, 195) operated an offense that used rollout pass plays because he was always a threat to run.
Both will be developed within the structure of the offense, Harsin said.
"We need them to be able to throw the football," Harsin said. " Once you develop them to where they can run your system, then you start playing to their strengths."
MOVE SUITS CHOATE
Special teams coach Jeff Choate told Petersen when he was hired in 2006 that he would prefer to coach defense someday. This year, Petersen has obliged.
Choate moved from running backs to linebackers in the staff shake-up announced by Petersen earlier this week. Choate played linebacker in college and was a defensive coach before coming to Boise State.
Choate replaces Viliami Tuivai, who becomes the director of football operations - a non-coaching administrative position - after three years with the linebackers.
"The bottom line is, this is who I am," Choate said. "If I was to describe my personality and what position fits best, this is it."
The job also is better for Choate's career, since he had no aspirations on the offensive side.
"I never saw myself as calling offensive plays," Choate said. "That's not who I am. That's not my drive. But I would like to maybe get back on the defensive side where that could present an opportunity to me down the road, so I really appreciate the opportunity to do this."
Keith Bhonapha, the DFO the past three years, replaced Choate with the running backs. Bhonapha, who was a graduate assistant after his playing days ended at Hawaii, wasn't even thinking about a return to coaching when Petersen approached him.
"It was something I wasn't expecting for him to come up to me and say," Bhonapha said. " This is a great opportunity for me."
Bhonapha has turned down other chances to get back into coaching, he said. He was intrigued by the chance to learn under Petersen and Harsin.
He started trying to figure out the complex offense in mid-January.
"I've been meeting with somebody every day," he said. "Just with how enormous the offense is, I'll still be learning during spring ball."
Spring ball opens March 9.
A SMALL CLASS IN 2010
The Broncos' next recruiting class will be sparse. The team only has five seniors, including fullback Andy Silsby, a walk-on from Bishop Kelly High who has been awarded a scholarship.
The Broncos also might leave a couple scholarships open so they have some additional room for next year's recruits.
"We have a real interesting dilemma next year with five seniors," Petersen said. "You don't want a class of five."