Boise State football has long thrived with under-recruited players showing opposing college coaches they missed out on a big talent.
But sometimes the recruiting rankings tend to be right.
One true freshman in particular has stood out as Boise State approaches Sept. 1 opener at Troy — wide receiver Khalil Shakir. Coach Bryan Harsin has been open about the intention to play Shakir – the most highly touted member of the Broncos’ 2018 signing class – right away.
“He knows what to do, and that’s a big part of it,” Harsin said. “... he’s handled a couple positions, we’ve moved him around. We don’t know exactly where we want to play him yet. He’s handled that, he’s made plays in practice, he’s been very competitive, he’s been consistent in camp — those are the key ingredients.”
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Shakir (6-foot, 186 pounds) was rated as a four-star recruit by 247Sports.com, with offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Illinois, UCLA and Washington State.
At Vista Murrieta High in California, he had 102 carries for 906 yards as a senior, with 17 receptions for 243 yards, scoring nine total touchdowns. With the Broncos, he could certainly be a weapon that can make things happen after the catch.
“He’s very shifty,” senior cornerback Tyler Horton said. “He learns things fast ... very explosive at the top of his routes.”
There is opportunity for newcomers to step up at wide receiver, with Cedrick Wilson’s graduation and four new scholarship additions this summer. Shakir’s ability to grasp the offense has been a key in the trust the veterans have in the youngster. Harsin said “he’s shown all the qualities you look for in someone who knows what to do.”
“He’s been great — smart kid, very athletic,” senior quarterback Brett Rypien said. “We’ve thrown a lot of different things at him throughout fall camp. He’s taken it on like a champ and done a really good job for us. He’s going to be a great player.”
Shakir won’t be the only true freshman who will appear early in the season. Harsin said the team has identified a few that may play, and the NCAA’s new redshirt rule will add a new twist. Players can appear in four games or fewer and keep their redshirt intact, so in theory, all of the new additions could appear in at least a few games.
The Broncos played five true freshmen last season, but the new rule could allow it so if a player doesn’t quite seem ready, or if there aren’t enough snaps to make playing them worthwhile, the staff can make that decision later, rather than burning a redshirt first play.
A few other true freshmen who have been impressive that may be on the field early — running back Andrew Van Buren, wide receivers Billy Bowens and Stefan Cobbs, defensive tackle Scale Igiehon, STUD end Demitri Washington and cornerback Tyric LeBeauf.
“Is it two plays, 10 plays? The nice thing is we have that redshirt rule ... anticipate a few of those young guys out there playing,” Harsin said.