Boise State players, coach Bryan Harsin on the Broncos' 14 seniors
Every senior class has something that makes it unique, whether it’s an incredible amount of wins, a certain edge it has brought to the Boise State football team or the ability to handle tough times.
In a way, all of that applies to the 14 seniors being honored Saturday before facing Air Force at Albertsons Stadium. It also is a group that has persevered.
Six of these seniors arrived as scholarship players and have been with the team for all five years of eligibility. Two more were local walk-ons, and the other six transferred from other schools.
Most were true freshmen on the team in 2013 when coach Chris Petersen left for Washington and Bryan Harsin was brought in, and most have been the glue that keeps the team together rather than the headline-grabbers.
“I’m sure every class says it has a group of good guys, but I think we’re a little unique,” senior guard Andrew Tercek said. “We’ve been around the block, guys have gone through some injuries, some have stuck around through adversity.”
There are players like Tercek, who has never been a starter and played in seven games his first two seasons. Defensive lineman Austin Silsby has played in just nine games in his career, waiting four years until he got a scholarship in August.
Wide receiver Austin Cottrell transferred from a junior college in 2015, but he’s made just one catch, contributing as a key special-teamer. Safety Cameron Hartsfield was pressed into a starting role last season and went into 2017 as the top returning tackler but has just eight stops thus far as a backup.
“A guy that’s all about this football team,” Harsin said of Hartsfield. “That’s the unselfishness in players. You have 100-some guys on your team and only 11 get to play at a time. ... You’re going to have to give up some personal goals to go out and achieve some team goals.”
Those old-timers who can remember being part of Petersen’s last year — “crazy we can tell guys that eight wins was a bad season,” Tercek joked — also had their own struggles. Linebacker Gabe Perez was the only one who played in 2013, but he was limited to five games of action the last two seasons with shoulder injuries before returning this year.
Tight end Jake Roh is putting up a phenomenal season with 11 total touchdowns, but he had just 10 catches all of last season while battling a knee injury.
“A group that’s really bought in, from the coaching change, and things that have gone on,” Harsin said.
That buy-in has aided some of the big names that may not have been here as long. Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who transferred from a junior college, will go down as one of the top talents at the position in school history. Quarterback Montell Cozart, a Kansas transfer, has been a playmaker, one who fit in right away despite having joined the team just this past summer.
“Everyone gets along really well, they welcomed me right away, made me feel at home,” Cozart said. “The seniors, we get together, have meetings and we talk about what can help this team improve. We hope guys can come to us and that we can make them good when we’re gone.”
Said Wilson: “They made me feel like I’d been here all four years.”
Coming into this season, only Roh, fellow tight end Alec Dhaenens and offensive linemen Archie Lewis and Mason Hampton had started 10 or more games. It has been a class full of the perhaps-clichéd blue-collar types, a sentiment reflected best by Silsby.
“It’s definitely been hard. I had the idea coming into it, it doesn’t matter if I play, I’m going to be part of something bigger than myself,” he said. “But going through this journey, it’s taught me an unbelievable work ethic,through the adversity and injuries, just accepting your role and starring in it.”
BOISE STATE’S 2017 SENIOR CLASS
DT Daniel Auelua, Alpine, Utah (Mesa CC)
WR/LS Brock Barr, Redding, Calif. (Shasta College)
WR Austin Cottrell, Glendale, Ariz. (Scottsdale CC)
QB Montell Cozart, Kansas City, Mo. (Kansas)
TE Alec Dhaenens, Fruitland High
C Mason Hampton, Meridian High
S Cameron Hartsfield, Allen (Texas) High
OT Archie Lewis, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High
LB Gabe Perez, Valencia High (Placentia, Calif.)
TE Jake Roh, Chapparal High (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
DL Austin Silsby, Kuna High
OL Andrew Tercek, East Central High (San Antonio)
WR Cedrick Wilson, Memphis, Tenn. (Coffeyville CC)
RB Ryan Wolpin, Trabuco Canyon, Calif. (Northern Colorado)
Air Force at Boise State
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf); Boise State reported about 30,500 tickets out as of Thursday evening
TV: ESPN2 (Roy Philpott and Tom Ramsey)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 8-2, 6-0 (beat Colorado State 59-52 in OT last week); Air Force 4-6, 3-3 (lost to Wyoming 28-14 last week)
Series: Air Force leads 3-2 (Falcons won 27-20 in Colorado Springs on Nov. 25, 2016, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 17 1/2
Kickoff weather: Upper 30s, partly cloudy