Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin surprised junior tight end Jake Hardee in front of the entire team Saturday morning by giving him a scholarship.
Hardee, of Bishop Kelly High, grayshirted out of high school and joined the team in January 2011. He redshirted in 2011, became a contributor late in 2012 and played in every game in 2013. He made five catches for 73 yards last year.
Harsin called several players to the front of the team meeting Saturday to answer questions about football. Hardee’s turn came last and he was asked, “The NCAA allows a football program 85 of what?”
He answered quickly: “Scholarships.”
The video screen then showed a message congratulating him on earning a scholarship. Players cheered, Hardee pumped his fist and Harsin gave him a hug. The players chanted “Hardee! Hardee!”
“Jake, congratulations,” Harsin said. “You put a lot of time in. It’s continued to show up. You’re doing things right. And that’s exactly what this program is about.”
Combined with the Kevin Person signing (see below), the Broncos have 84 players on scholarship. The NCAA max, as Hardee knows, is 85.
Harsin originally recruited Hardee, who was more of a basketball player and wide receiver in high school.
“I could've played basketball in college somewhere, but it doesn't get any better for a guy from Boise to play for the Broncos,” Hardee said last summer.
Hardee spoke to the media after practice. Here’s what he said:
— On getting the scholarship: “Lifelong dream — something I’ve been working hard for for the last three or four years.”
— He ran to the locker room after practice to call his parents and girlfriend. “They’re pretty relieved. They were all crying on the phone.”
— On the team’s reaction: “To have the respect of my teammates and have them rooting for me means a lot, even more than the scholarship.”
— On the difference being a scholarship guy: “It’s a great accomplishment, but it doesn’t change anything. I want to always go out there and play with an edge like coach Harsin says and play with a chip on the shoulder so I’m going to go out and treat every day like I was a walk-on.”
— On past Boise State walk-on successes: “It’s a great honor. That was my goal from the beginning when I was offered a walk-on spot. I said, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to earn a scholarship and join those guys.’ It’s just a blessing.”
— On the tight end group not making a big impact last year: “We have a little chip on our shoulder about that. We’re trying to come out and prove and show that we can be big assets in the offense. I think the coaches realize that and I think that we’re going to have a pretty good year. We’re going to keep working hard, playing our part, doing our role and everything will take care of itself.”
Here is the list of walk-ons put on scholarship since 1998:
Walk-ons: Here are the 53 Boise State football walk-ons who have been awarded scholarships since 1998, when Dirk Koetter took over the program. Coaches Dan Hawkins (2001-05), Chris Petersen (2006-13) and Bryan Harsin (2014) have continued the tradition.
1998 (5): OT Willy Van Gorder, WR Matt Sevieri, TE Jeb Putzier, TE Nate Colbert, DT Tony Altieri
1999 (6): FB Shay Swan, DE Jeff Copp, DE Sky Dumont, RB Brock Forsey, PK Nick Calaycay, WR Jerry Smith
2000 (1): TE Shaelan McDonough
2001 (4): LS Tom Anderson, OG Jeff Cheek, LB Kris Foster, WR Tim Gilligan
2002 (3): FB Greg Swenson, WR T.J. Acree, PK Tyler Jones
2003 (5): RB Jeff Carpenter, DT Andrew Browning, TE Trent Lundin, OL Klayton Adams, P Kyle Stringer
2004 (1): LB Colt Brooks
2005 (5): LB Ben Chuckovich, ST Ia Falo, WR Cole Clasen, WR Vinny Perretta, S Robby Jones
2006 (1): RB Brett Denton
2007 (5): FB Michael Lose, WR Tanyon Bissell, LB Tim Brady, PK Kyle Brotzman, DE Ryan Winterswyk
2008 (3): OT Matt Slater, WR Michael Choate, WR Tyler Shoemaker
2009 (4): FB Andy Silsby, S Travis Stanaway, OT Michael Ames, LB J.C. Percy
2010 (2): LS Chris Roberson, TE Sean King
2011 (1): OL Matt Paradis
2012 (4): RB Drew Wright, CB Josh Borgman, S Hazen Moss, DE Beau Martin
2013 (2): K Dan Goodale, LB Travis Saxton
2014 (1): TE Jake Hardee
Some of the best competition on the Boise State football team this season will be at linebacker, where there are 10 players for two spots.
The group includes the players who ranked first (Ben Weaver, 89), tied for eighth (Tanner Vallejo, 51), 13th (Tyler Gray, 43) and 18th (Blake Renaud, 25) on the team in tackles.
Those four players combined for all but one start at middle and weak-side linebacker last season. Weaver and Vallejo are sophomores, Gray is a junior and Renaud is a senior. Gray and Renaud began the year as starters but gave way to Weaver and Vallejo, who was a true freshman.
Plus, senior Travis Saxton returns from a knee injury. He was in the rotation last year before the early-season injury. Sophomores Chris Santini and Darren Lee gained valuable experience last year.
“We had some veteran guys who were banged up last year,” linebackers coach Andy Avalos said. “Therefore, the younger guys got an opportunity to play. So one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. Obviously last year it was a struggle for us with inexperience in there. As we said all along, we knew going into this season it was going to pay off for us. All those guys are doing a great job competing with each other, not against each other. And that’s my big deal. We’re out there to make each other better and push each other as we do it.”
Cornerback Kevin Person, one of the new players added to the roster Friday, was a late addition to the 2014 recruiting class. He’s on scholarship and participated in the summer bridge program for incoming freshmen.
Person competed in football, baseball and track and field at Santa Monica High. He was named All-CIF Western Division as a defensive back in 2013. He also was the team MVP with 71 tackles and five interceptions.
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