The day of Cedrick Wilson’s first game at Albertsons Stadium, Sept. 10 of last year against Washington State, it was a long wait until he had to head to the stadium from his place for the nighttime kickoff.
“It felt like we were sitting at home all day ... like we were lounging around all day,” Wilson said.
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin noticed, too. He decided then to get his team into one place before home games.
Now, the Broncos stay in a local hotel the night before games on the Blue, a chance for the team to be together and to have meetings, meals and bonding time before heading to the stadium a few hours before kickoff.
“We hadn’t done it for a lot of years, and we won a bunch of games not doing it,” Harsin said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with our guys. I think it has to do with that there are more distractions now than there were in the past.”
The practice was last used regularly by Boise State during the Skip Hall era in the late 1980s. A 2010 Des Moines Register story reported that just six of the then-120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision did not stay in hotels before home games. Boise State was one.
Harsin mentioned that even if players didn’t leave home after Friday meetings in the past, friends or family often came by. When he decided to broach the subject of staying in hotels with the team’s leadership council last year, “there wasn’t one guy that was like ‘no way.’ ”
“There’s more things you don’t want to have happen, because you don’t always have control of where your guys are at,” Harsin said. “... You spend an entire week preparing yourself physically and mentally to play, to have the right frame of mind. You don’t have them for an evening, some of those things can change.”
Now, in a sport that craves consistency more than anything, the pregame routine is the same, be it on the road or at home.
For those players who were used to coming to the stadium from home, there was a bit of an adjustment, but staying on task has been made easier — mostly. These are still college students, after all.
“It was a little different at first, but I came around to really like it,” senior center Mason Hampton said. “Especially when you have a game that starts at 8:15, 8:30, it helps keep you focused throughout the whole day. It gets fun, sometimes there’s some joke played, practical jokes. Nothing over the top.”
‘BIG RECRUITING WEEKEND’
Harsin is happy to have a 5 p.m. kickoff Saturday, for his team and his fans, but also for potential future players.
“We have a big recruiting weekend coming up,” Harsin said Monday.
According to 247Sports.com, seven of the Broncos’ verbal commitments will be on hand, including quarterback Zach Wilson, who was offered a scholarship last week by Syracuse, and running back Andrew VanBuren.
Other listed visitors include massive junior college defensive tackle Jonathan Lolohea, who has offers from Arizona, Iowa State, Colorado, TCU and many others, plus high school receivers Ke’von Ahmad and Khalil Shakir. Both have multiple Power Five offers, and the site lists Boise State as Shakir’s “favorite.”
BIG MEN OF MANY TALENTS
Sophomore nose tackle Sonatane Lui is a strong, gritty presence on the interior defensive line for the Broncos. Off the field, he’s pretty deft with some artistic talents.
Lui, who is a talented singer, plays five musical instruments: guitar, piano, ukulele, violin and the flute.
“My grandma would hold these big dinners, and people like to be entertained, so we’d play them and sing to the guests,” Lui said.
But his grandmother didn’t teach him how to read music. He still doesn’t know how. Instead, he learns by ear and by watching others play. He loves drawing, so he also will sketch scales or draw piano keys and color in the order of how to play certain tunes.
The Broncos might have the most musically talented nose tackles in the nation. Fellow sophomore Emmanuel Fesili plays drums and alto saxophone, plus a little guitar and bass, Lui said.
HAMPTON RECEIVES MAJOR HONOR
Hampton was named one of 13 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy on Wednesday. The trophy recognizes the top football scholar-athlete in the nation, across all divisions. Hampton, an accountancy major, has a 3.97 GPA. As part of being a finalist, he receives an $18,000 scholarship for his postgraduate education.
“It’s a nice recognition of the hard work I’ve put in academically and football-wise as well,” Hampton said.
Hampton will be honored Dec. 5 in New York City at the 60th Annual NFF Awards Dinner. He has an internship lined up this winter and then hopes to pursue his master’s, should this prove to be his last season playing football.
MORE SECURITY, METAL DETECTORS
Boise State said Wednesday that it plans to employ additional security personnel and metal detectors for Saturday’s game following complaints of long lines before and during Oct. 21’s game against Wyoming.
Gates will open at 3 p.m., two hours before kickoff. The forecast includes a chance of rain, but umbrellas are not allowed because they create viewing obstructions.
▪ Join the Idaho Statesman’s Boise State beat writer, Dave Southorn, and sports editor Chadd Cripe for a Facebook Live Q&A at 11 a.m. Thursday at www.facebook.com/boisestatesports.
Nevada at Boise State
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick and Kirk Morrison)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 6-2, 4-0 (beat Utah State 41-14 last week); Nevada 1-7, 1-3 (lost to Air Force 45-42 on Oct. 20)
Series: Boise State leads 28-13 (Boise State won 51-46 in Reno on Oct. 4, 2014, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 22
Kickoff weather: Low 40s, partly cloudy