Turns out, all that talk about an increased role for the Boise State football team’s tight ends was real.
The tight ends have combined for 10 catches for 128 yards in the first three games this season. Redshirt freshman Jake Roh leads the way with eight catches for 95 yards.
Roh already has more catches and yards than last year’s tight end leaders, Connor Peters (seven catches) and Jake Hardee (73 yards).
The group is halfway to last year’s total of 20 catches and on pace for the most since 2011 (60).
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“It looks like it’s on the rise for the tight ends,” Roh said.
The group still doesn’t have a touchdown since the 2012 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, a stat that should change soon. That touchdown was scored by Holden Huff, who had a remarkable finish to his freshman season, disappeared from the offense last year and re-emerged last week with two catches for 33 yards.
Huff, a junior, was suspended for the season opener this year and didn’t have a catch in the second game.
“It’s adding a lot to our group,” Roh said of Huff’s return. “He has a lot of talent. It’s just making our group have more depth, which is going to help us a lot down the road.”
Next week, the depth will increase again. Peters, a senior, is serving a four-game academic suspension and is eligible to play Sept. 27 at Air Force. The group also includes Hardee, a junior, and redshirt freshman Alec Dhaenens.
Dhaenens nearly made a terrific catch on a trick-play throw from wide receiver Matt Miller in the opener against Ole Miss.
Last week, the tight ends ate up Connecticut on shallow crossing routes that turned into big gains. Roh and Huff combined for five catches for 77 yards — more yards than Miller had (74).
“Just the coverage they were playing, it looked to be a good look for us,” Roh said of the crossing routes. “We kept going back to it and it worked well. It’s been a while since I’ve been catching it and being in open space like that.”
Dhaenens still is looking for his first catch. He is the primary fullback and is more advanced as a blocker than as a receiver.
“I’ve played quite a bit. It’s a good start,” Dhaenens said. “ I’ve always (blocked) pretty well.”
The fullback has been used mostly in the red zone. The Broncos also utilize formations with two tight ends about 40 percent of the time, Dhaenens said.
“We’re getting much more involved,” he said. “Hopefully it just gets better through the year.”
Boise State defensive tackle Antoine Turner’s story — from homelessness to Boise State football player — will be featured on “Inside College Football” on CBS Sports Network at 6 p.m. tonight.
SI.com also has sent a reporter to town to do a story on Turner, who has not been made available to the local media since he arrived on campus.
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