Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin looks ahead to 2018 spring game
Boise State’s annual spring game gives its fans their first shot at checking out the football team, plus gives a little bit of a glimpse into who might be the next star.
“Looking for guys to take advantage of their reps out there ... hopefully we see guys go out and compete, get Bronco Nation out there, change the atmosphere a little bit,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
Kicking off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Albertsons Stadium, here are a few new faces I suggest keeping an eye on, along with a few familiar ones who have been spring standouts.
Chase Cord, QB: Fans will get their first solid look at the redshirt freshman in a game-like setting Saturday, and it very likely is a glimpse at the Broncos’ future starter. Harsin said that after redshirting, Cord (6-foot-2, 202 pounds) can diagnose and correct mistakes, saying “he’s got purpose.”
“He’s throwing the ball really effectively, and he’s got mobility,” Harsin said. “When things break down, that’s the one thing about Chase, Chase can move. He moves really well, not just getting out and running, strictly being an athlete, but when he has to move in the pocket, he moves well. When he goes, he’s got some juice behind him.”
During the offseason, offensive coordinator Zak Hill praised how Cord worked to look physically more like a college quarterback. Thus far in spring, he’s seen the lion’s share of No. 2 snaps behind senior Brett Rypien. Harsin said being in the spring game will be good for Cord.
“I think you’ll see a guy that will manage it well, I think he’ll throw the ball well, when he does move and scramble, he’s going to be able to make some yards,” Harsin said. “Hopefully that happens. It’d be great for him to get in front of people, cut it loose a little bit, just see how far he’s come.”
Jermani Brown, CB: This is a pick based on what I’ve seen in spring, as the redshirt freshman has definitely had some solid moments. He had an interception in the team’s second scrimmage last week. The 5-9, 168-pounder will work to get bigger, there’s no doubt, but he’s competing with sophomore Jalen Walker for a spots as the third corner. Brown was one of the Broncos’ biggest recruiting gets in recent years, a four-star prospect in 2017.
John Ojukwu, OL: The Boise High graduate finished school early and enrolled last spring, getting a leg up on his Boise State career. Two years ago, he weighed about 195 pounds and today stands at 6-6, 307 pounds. His physical transformation has been impressive, and he’s certainly looking the part of a future starting tackle. He’s competing with senior Andres Preciado on the right side.
“Every snap he gets is beneficial, and I think he’s been doing a really nice job,” offensive line coach Brad Bedell said. “The way he’s put (the weight) on, he’s lean. ... He played a lot last spring, redshirted, and now we’ve got to continue to develop him technically.”
Jabril Frazier, STUD: The senior was able to avoid major injuries last season after having three operations a year ago, and it translated into a productive junior year (33 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles). Rypien said the pass rush has been very good this spring, but pointed out Frazier.
“Jabril’s on a whole other level. He’s taken his game to new heights,” Rypien said. “I don’t know what it is, but something’s clicked for him. He’s out there dominating. It’s really cool to see … when he’s healthy, he’s looking really scary right now.”
A.J. Richardson, WR: There may not be one single wide receiver who steps in to fill Cedrick Wilson’s void, but there is plenty of opportunity. Richardson’s 33 receptions and 494 yards are tops among the team’s returning offensive players. The senior said he’s focused on improving his speed this season.
“I know I’m labeled slow and a possession receiver and stuff like that, but I want to be able to change that this year and be an all-around receiver,” Richardson said.
Kekoa Nawahine, S: It will not come as a shock to most, but Nawahine’s name has often been among the first Harsin mentions when he thinks of this spring’s standouts. The junior, who is the team’s top returner in tackles (108) and interceptions (three), has been a ball hawk over the last month and continues to carve out a niche as a team leader.
“He’s obviously got a nose for the ball, which is something that really showed up last year and has shown up so far this spring,” Harsin said.
Spring game information
The football team’s spring game will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Albertsons Stadium. Tickets are $10, all general admission, and can be purchased at the Athletic Ticket Office that day, or at BroncoSports.com/tickets. The team will be split into two squads. The first half will consist of two 10-minute quarters with regular timing. The second half will have 8-minute quarters and a running clock.
Free parking is available across campus, with the exception of the West Stadium Lot, which will be reserved for Stueckle Sky Center guests. The Sky Center will open at 1:30 p.m., and the main stadium gates will open at 2:15 p.m. Also, 2018 schedule posters will be available for the first 5,000 fans.
Following the game, access to the Blue will be available to all attendees.
Before the game, the 2018 Hall of Fame class will be recognized. Boise State will hold its annual gear sale at the Allen Noble Hall of Fame from noon to 2 p.m. for BAA members, and to the general public starting at 2 p.m. Fans also may tailgate at DeChevrieux Field and check out 2018 season tailgating options.