Jaylon Henderson knows that if the Boise State football team does not need him much on the field, it probably is a good thing.
But he’s still readying himself for a much bigger role than he had even a week ago.
A junior college transfer who joined the program in January, Henderson is the Broncos’ new backup quarterback, moving up from third string after sophomore Chase Cord suffered a torn ACL in practice last week.
It’s a shift he’s taken seriously.
“The day after Chase got hurt, Jaylon was in the film room for, I’m serious, about four hours,” senior wide receiver A.J. Richardson said. “And he was spot-on that first day of practice he was the backup.”
Cord’s absence is significant, not only as the likely heir apparent to senior Brett Rypien, but also for his skill set — on his second-ever college snap, he scored on a 44-yard touchdown run Sept. 1 at Troy.
However, Henderson has some wheels, too. He had four carries for 30 yards but did not throw a pass in his only Boise State game action, Sept. 8 against UConn.
“Jaylon’s an athletic quarterback, can do some things with his feet, can still throw it from the pocket and has a lot of talent,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.
Henderson spent two seasons at the University of Texas at San Antonio (appearing in four games) before playing last season at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas. He completed 100-of-187 passes for 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns, with one interception, and rushed 85 times for 382 yards and three touchdowns.
With Cord’s injury occurring during preparation for Nevada, it wasn’t enough time to properly work Henderson into the game plan, but coach Bryan Harsin said he could provide a similar look to Cord to give a change of pace from Rypien.
“We like that two quarterback (look) at times,” Harsin said.
It was apparent in the spring that Henderson was still getting acclimated, throwing just four times in the spring game for 9 yards and rushing three times for minus-7 yards. But he took a step forward in fall camp and now with more regular snaps.
“Jaylon, like anybody else, the more reps he gets, the better he gets,” said Harsin, a former Boise state backup himself. “When you’re that third-string guy — I’ve been in that situation — you get your two or three reps in practice, and you come in cold, it’s hard to go in and stand out, do something spectacular.”
Behind Henderson will be true freshman Riley Smith, a big (6-foot-4, 206 pounds) but raw Floridian. He signed with Boise State in February after Zach Wilson decommitted in December. Smith got a late offer from Pittsburgh before picking Boise State. The other quarterback the Broncos offered, Brock Purdy, who visited Boise the weekend before Smith did in January, eventually chose Iowa State.
Wilson and Purdy are starting for BYU and Iowa State, respectively.
It puts an interesting twist on the competition to replace Rypien in 2019, as Cord will at best be back for fall camp. He tore the same right ACL after his junior football season in high school but returned the following fall. The Broncos have a commitment from Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who has 2,279 yards passing and 317 rushing with 24 TD passes and nine rushing TDs in eight games this season.
GIANTS WAIVE FORMER BRONCO DEAYON
His rise was unlikely, but so was his release — the New York Giants waived former Boise State cornerback Donte Deayon on Tuesday.
Deayon went undrafted in 2016, but stuck with the Giants’ practice squad that season, then played in four games last season and four this season. This year he had six tackles and two pass breakups. He did not play last Thursday against the Eagles, but going into last week, was graded fifth by Pro Football Focus among all cornerbacks in coverage snaps per reception (17.8), behind Pro Bowlers Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib, Patrick Peterson and 2017 first-round pick Tre’Davious White.
The 5-9, 159-pound Deayon is one of the smallest players in the NFL, but had 17 interceptions at Boise State. We caught up with him after a game in Dallas against the Cowboys in which he nearly had an interception in the end zone.
COLORADO STATE AT BOISE STATE
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
TV: ESPN2 (Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, Olivia Dekker)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 4-2, 2-1 (won 31-27 at Nevada on Saturday); Colorado State 3-4, 2-1 (won 20-18 over New Mexico on Saturday)
Series: Boise State leads 7-0 (won 59-52 in OT in Fort Collins on Nov. 11, 2017)
Vegas line: Boise State by 23 1/2
Weather: Low 60s, clear