The first week of school for the Boise State football team gave coaches a chance to look at their true freshman decisions from another angle.
They knew who had the football skills. They had a strong idea who could handle the mental side of the game.
But the third element involves school and a freshman’s ability to thrive on and off the field simultaneously.
“Now their schedule is set,” said defensive backs coach Julius Brown, who has four true freshmen competing for likely two spots on the field this year. “Now you’re seeing how their bodies respond, how they respond mentally, how they respond physically on the field. This week gave us a little bit of a gauge. We’ll continue that until next week.”
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Cornerback is the only position at which the Broncos are certain to play a true freshman. They only have three scholarship cornerbacks in the other classes.
Tyler Horton appeared to be the top freshman corner in fall camp but coaches haven’t committed publicly to any freshman decisions.
“We don’t know how many we’ll have to play,” Brown said. “... We have to have depth where guys can get a spell if they need one. There’s not a real, true number. As a staff, we’re not going to put anyone in there we feel is not ready to play.”
The other freshman cornerbacks are Darreon Jackson, Donzale Roddie and Ladarryl Blair.
They have learned from senior Donte Deayon and junior Jonathan Moxey, the starters. They played when they were true freshmen.
The Broncos signed six defensive backs in all this year after experiencing a shortage last year because of injuries.
“We signed a big DB class,” Brown said. “Hopefully we don’t run into the situation we had last year in terms of depth. It was good to go out there and kind of put your thumbprint on it.”
Junior college transfer Raymond Ford will play a key role in determining how many freshmen play. He arrived in January and is the only scholarship cornerback behind the starters who was on the team before this summer.
“Ray’s a kid who had a good fall camp,” Brown said. “He’s a fast, competitive, tough kid. ... I’m looking forward to him helping us win.”
The Broncos also could get creative if they run into problems at cornerback. Senior nickel Mercy Maston, senior free safety Darian Thompson and sophomore free safety Cameron Hartsfield are former cornerbacks.
Thompson, an All-Mountain West safety, played six to eight snaps at corner last year at Connecticut because of injuries.
“You never know how you’re going to end up,” Brown said. “You always have to have guys who are prepared. We feel like we have smart football players. We continue to teach them different things. You never want to run into a situation where you’re not prepared for something.”
The other true freshmen most likely to play this year are wide receiver Akilian Butler and quarterback Brett Rypien. Wide receivers coach Junior Adams said Butler should keep in mind what happened with tailback Jeremy McNichols last year, when he was on a redshirt track until the sixth game. Rypien could be the Broncos’ backup but it’s unclear if he’ll play.
Here’s the cornerback roster:
5 Donte Deayon, 5-9, 155, Sr.
25 Raymond Ford, 5-10, 183, R-Jr.
2 Jonathan Moxey, 5-10, 188, Jr.
30 Isaiah Johnson, 5-8, 168, R-Fr.
21 Ladarryl Blair, 5-11, 188, Fr.
27 Donzale Roddie, 5-10, 190, Fr.
14 Tyler Horton, 5-11, 172, Fr.
34 Darreon Jackson, 5-11, 187, Fr.
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Horton is from Edison High in Fresno, Calif., the same high school as a Fresno City College baseball player killed in a shooting early Saturday morning. Deondre Howard was shot outside a relative’s home.
Horton tweeted about the news.
All they way in Boise and getting news i lost my brother hurt. All i can say is im hurt man R.I.P Day Day ðŸ”ðŸ” pic.twitter.com/DTLINuZgru— Tyler Horton (@OohKillem3) August 29, 2015
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Boise State’s game-week schedule begins Sunday for the Washington game because it’s a Friday kickoff.
Coach Bryan Harsin, both coordinators and select players will meet with the media beginning at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. We’ll have video and notes in the Bronco Beat blog immediately after the press conference ends.
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We’ll have our first live chat of the season at 11 a.m. Wednesday. You can sign up for a reminder below:
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Our college football preview section will be in Sunday’s newspaper. Check it out below: