Boise State Football

As wife fights medical ‘nightmare,’ Boise State QB Ricedorff tries to find focus

Boise State junior quarterback Rathen Ricedorff throws a pass during spring practice at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Saturday March, 11, 2017.
Boise State junior quarterback Rathen Ricedorff throws a pass during spring practice at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Saturday March, 11, 2017.

While he acclimates himself at a third school in a little more than three years and learns one of college football’s most complex offenses, Boise State junior quarterback Rathen Ricedorff’s wife is facing a medical mystery.

Since March 1, Kizzy Ricedorff has been in the hospital fighting a nerve condition that is still not fully diagnosed. Rathen said doctors believe it to be a virus that has attacked her central nervous system.

“It’s been a struggle, I’m not going to lie. It’s been hard dealing with school, trying to pick all this up with football, trying to stay focused, going home, trying to make sure she’s happy and comfortable at the hospital, making sure I’m there for her,” Ricedorff said. “It’s part of life. There’s always going to be some kind of trial in your life, you have to find a way to overcome it, it’s only going to make you stronger in the end.”

A volleyball player, Kizzy missed what was supposed to be her senior season at Arizona State in the fall of 2015, when she lost feeling in her right hand, telling The State Press, “I don’t really have a spatial recognition of where my hand is.”

“It’s been a nightmare,’’ Rathen said after his second Boise State practice Wednesday. “It happened a year and a half ago, these same exact symptoms. Now she’s dealing with them again; they still don’t know how to treat it. We’re praying to find some kind of conclusion to all this, find some answers.’’

With a year of eligibility left, Kizzy intended to play for BSU this year as a graduate transfer. She practiced for about three weeks before feeling ill. Her parents, who live in Montana, are in Boise during her hospital stay. Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and offensive coordinator Zak Hill visited her at St. Luke’s on Thursday night. She tweeted Friday she developed pneumonia and had bleeding canker sores, to boot.

“She’s had to forfeit the (opportunity) at volleyball, which has killed her. She was really looking forward to it. It’s been a hard time for her,” Rathen said.

Said Harsin: “She’s a fantastic person, going through some tough things right now, but she’s got a lotta people over here that are supporting her. And Rathen’s done a fantastic job; he really has.”

Rathen has been tested on the field, too. Likely to be junior Brett Rypien’s backup, Ricedorff redshirted at Arizona State in 2014 after taking a church mission, then spent two years at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College. He threw for 3,688 yards last season and was the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year.

“Going to Arizona State and that learning curve, going to MCC and having to deal with that learning curve has definitely prepared me,” Rathen said. “... I think I’ve picked up things a lot faster this time around.”

Rypien has been impressed with that ability.

“Rathen ... having to learn the offense pretty quickly, I think he did a good job,” Rypien said Monday.

The 6-foot, 186-pound Ricedorff provides a change of pace from Rypien, which the Broncos are likely to use in special packages. Ricedorff rushed for 369 yards in 17 games at Mesa, but he said he isn’t the type of quarterback always looking to run upfield. He instead uses his legs to extend plays.

“With our offense here at Boise, there’s a lot of intricacies. ... I know on a first-hand basis from last year,” said Hill, who was hired in January 2016. “Rathen’s done a great job of preparing himself. ... He can do some things not only with his arm, but with his feet, extend plays, make it really tough for a defensive coordinator to feel comfortable calling pressures.”

The ability and the maturity — Ricedorff recently turned 25, while Rypien is 20 — are what Boise State is counting on to push its entrenched starter and add his own twists.

“I’ve got a few years on all these guys. I’m old; they’ll take some shots at me,” Ricedorff said. “... I think it’s an advantage, having the time to pick up things, the experiences I’ve had.”

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

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