With 30 new players in camp, Boise State split up practices between veterans and newcomers for the first time since Chris Petersen’s final fall three years ago.
The Broncos opened fall camp Thursday with a sharp veterans practice in the morning, and let the new guys (with a few select vets) have the grass practice field in the afternoon.
“It was good to just shake the cobwebs off. You get anxious doing all the running and lifting and team-building stuff all summer,” senior defensive end Sam McCaskill said. “Everyone’s pretty antsy to get out there, like a kid on Christmas morning, ready to get the helmet. Then it’s a whole other deal when you get the pads on, but today was a good start.”
On Friday and Saturday, the Broncos plan again to have split practices with the first full-team session Sunday. Players have praised a ramped-up summer program and are optimistic it will get them football-ready sooner than usual.
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The opener is Sept. 3 at Louisiana (10 a.m., American Sports Network and ESPN3).
“We’re excited to get after it and get ready for the season,” senior cornerback Jonathan Moxey said. “I feel like we did hit the ground running. We got after it today, had a great first practice.”
A handful of true freshmen didn’t look like players who were in high school a few months ago. Tight end Nick Crabtree (6-foot-7, 263 pounds), defensive end Kayode Rufai (6-4, 255) and defensive tackle Emmanuel Fesili (6-2, 308) passed the eye test.
Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, after seeing Crabtree during a drill, perhaps only slightly joking, said a defensive jersey would look good on him before remarking that he hopes Crabtree gets work on the field goal blocking unit.
NEW ADDITIONS TO THE ROSTER
Ten walk-ons were added to the roster Thursday, four from Idaho: WR Christian Blaser (Rocky Mountain High), LB Bruno DeRose (Pueblo, Colo.), QB Cam Humphrey (Issaquah, Wash.), LB Nick Provenzano (Glendora, Calif.), RB Jake Roper (Rocky Mountain High), DB Ma’a Tanuvasa (Mililani, Hawaii), LB Solo Taylor (Rigby High), OL Ben Vering (Capital High), LB Blake Whitlock (Saddleback College) and DB Avery Williams (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.).
Whitlock, a Reno native, is a junior who had 59 tackles and three sacks last season for the Gauchos. All others are freshmen. Tanuvasa’s father, also named Ma’a, played in the NFL and won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos as a defensive end.
Senior offensive lineman Dan Urquhart (Eden Prairie, Minn.), who joined the team last fall as a walk-on and took part in spring practices, has left the team.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE WORKOUT
Last week, as summer conditioning wound down, the Broncos took on a tough task with a new twist: military training.
Last year, the men’s basketball team did similar work, but this was a first for football. Kicker Tyler Rausa tweeted “This. Was. No. Joke.”
McCaskill spoke about it Thursday after the first practice. “It was cool. They don’t toss you into the line of fire, they literally throw you out there and you’re getting yelled at, you’ve got all this stuff going on,” McCaskill said. “It was hard, but it was a cool experience.”
The team did some field work and pool work. McCaskill said some players weren’t as adept as others at swimming, and they weren’t given flotation devices, so “it gave us the opportunity to go and help them out.”
ANOTHER IN-STATE COMMIT
Madison High (Rexburg) defensive lineman Zeke Birch announced via Twitter he has committed to Boise State. Birch (6-5, 270), born in Florida before being adopted and raised in eastern Idaho, had four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss last season for the Bobcats, who reached the 5A semifinals. He is the second Idahoan to commit for the 2017 class, joining Highland defensive lineman Aisa Kelemete.
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BOISE STATE 2017 VERBAL COMMITMENTS
OT Mike Young, 6-6, 335, Queen Creek (Ariz.) HS
QB Chase Cord, 6-3, 185, Sunrise Mountain High (Peoria, Ariz.)
S Mike Young, 6-0, 205, Dodge City CC (Raytown, Mo.)
LB Breydon Boyd, 6-4, 215, Katy (Texas) HS
OL Isiah Moore, 6-5, 315, Mesa CC (Tiffin, Ohio)
DE Aisa Kelemete, 6-4, 225, Highland HS
DL Zeke Birch, 6-5, 270, Madison HS