Words of affirmation, catchphrases and cliches abound in college football. Inspirational slogans are painted around facilities and coaches’ social media accounts are chock full of them.
Boise State’s wide receivers probably aren’t familiar with one widely used motivational quote from Norman Vincent Peale: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” But that’s how they’re approaching the 2018 season.
Seniors Sean Modster and A.J. Richardson are surrounded by new talent, but they aren’t about to be forgotten. In fact, they have some very high aspirations — trying to top Cedrick Wilson’s 1,511-yard season last year. Modster said his goal is to more than double his career reception total. And he has one much, much higher.
“Probably have over 50 catches, then another goal is probably beat Ced’s record. ... He probably had the same phone call with A.J., too, so we’re coming after Ced,” Modster said.
One of the most pressing questions for Boise State this fall camp is who will replace Wilson. There are no shortage of candidates, with 10 scholarship players at the position, four of them who arrived this summer.
It could certainly be a case in which there isn’t just a single Bronco who rises into that role. But with the opportunity there, the approach is trying to be that guy.
“I think about it every day,” Richardson said.
Richardson and Modster are the Broncos’ top returning targets with 33 and 32 catches, respectively, last season. Richardson had 494 yards and Modster had 335. They have a combined 88 career receptions.
“Of course our roles are going to be bigger this year,” Richardson said. “It’s our last year, we want to go out with that Mountain West championship.”
Neither of the seniors admit they feel overlooked, though whenever a team has shiny, new options that tends to be the case. Sophomores Octavius Evans and CT Thomas showed flashes of major potential last season. Junior college transfer John Hightower looks primed for a good-sized role, and three incoming freshmen all have impressed.
“I’m glad we have good incoming freshmen, (other) receivers coming in, it makes me better as a receiver and definitely pushes A.J., too,” Modster said.
Richardson, a solidly built receiver at 6-foot, 212 pounds, showed some underrated speed with an 87-yard touchdown last season against Air Force. The pass from Brett Rypien was the Broncos’ longest in 15 years.
After some major struggles early last season, notably against Virginia, Modster earned his way back into being a reliable target. He had five catches in the final 3 minutes, including the tying score, in the epic comeback win over Colorado State in November.
Both are looking to continue a trend most schools would envy, as the last three seasons have seen a Boise State receiver with at least 80 receptions.
“On my part, I definitely have a lot to prove still — 80 catches would be great,” Modster said.
Back in February after the second signing day, receivers coach Eric Kiesau was asked about replacing Wilson. He was very confident what he had in his group would be able to do it, saying “I promise you, I put my career on the line — it will happen.” The day before fall camp began, he hardly wavered.
“All those guys are kind of set to kind of be those (No. 1-type) guys,” Kiesau said. “I think we’ll be OK. ... I think with this group coming back, if one of those guys emerges, great. If they don’t, then we’re gonna make sure we develop a collective group of six or seven guys and develop a receiving corps.”
Visit IdahoStatesman.com and Facebook.com/BoiseStateSports on Friday night for a recap of coach Bryan Harsin’s reaction to Boise State’s closed scrimmage.