Boise State Football

Dreaming big: Boise State’s Rypien and Mattison can buck trends in NFL Draft

BSU’s Alexander Mattison puts on the speed at Pro Day

Running back Alexander Mattison improves his 40-yard dash time.
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Running back Alexander Mattison improves his 40-yard dash time.

UPDATE: Former Boise State running back Alexander Mattison was drafted Friday night, a day earlier than expected. We have coverage of the selection here.

You saw him run wild on the Blue, hurdling hapless defenders or steamrolling them on his way to the end zone. But there were times when Alexander Mattison heard that such dreams were impossible.

Growing up in San Bernardino, California, a city that often appears on those “most dangerous” lists, life was not easy. His family at times did not have a stable living situation. But now the former Boise State running back is on the verge of hearing his name announced at the NFL Draft.

“It’s pretty crazy to think about maybe being an inspiration, and it’s something I take pride in,” Mattison said. “I heard it when I was younger — ‘You’re never going to make it out’ — but here I am. It is possible, no matter what you do.”

Watch some of Boise State RB Alexander Mattison's top plays from the 2018 season.

Mattison said he “had a great conversation” recently with Atlanta Falcons safety Damontae Kazee, a San Bernardino native who tied for the NFL lead last season with seven interceptions. He said they plan to continue to be a presence in their hometown.

And like Kazee, a San Diego State graduate, Mattison is eager to be another third-day draft gem. (Mattison, who rushed for 1,415 yards and 17 touchdowns last season as a junior, instead was taken in the third round Friday night by the Minnesota Vikings.)

“I never had anything handed to me, and I know that’s what it will be like in the NFL,” Mattison said. “My goal is to show I can be a feature back, that I can earn or surpass the expectations of where I’m picked.”

Mattison, who posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons before opting to forgo his senior year, would be the fourth Boise State running back selected since 2012.

Watch some of Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien's top plays from the 2018 season.

Also likely to be picked is the guy who handed Mattison the ball so many times over the past three seasons, a guy who Mattison said helped them “make a great combination” — quarterback Brett Rypien. He is hoping to be the first Boise State quarterback drafted in 44 years, since Jim McMillan was selected in the 14th round in 1975.

“It’s surprising, because there have been so many great ones before me,” Rypien said. “To even know that’s possible is really a dream come true.”

Boise State quarterback and NFL prospect Brett Rypien reflects on Pro Day and his chances at the draft.

Rypien is planning to watch the draft at home in Spokane, where there is a family tie. No Spokane-bred quarterback has been drafted since his uncle, Mark Rypien, was taken in the sixth round in 1986 by the Washington Redskins.

“That was always my motivation, knowing that he was able to do it, and it gave me confidence a guy from Spokane could be drafted,” Rypien said.

And if he gets taken earlier than Mark, who went 146th overall?

“I’d definitely have bragging rights,” Rypien said.

Rypien said he also has thought about history repeating itself in the draft so he could remain teammates with Mattison. The Dallas Cowboys took former Boise State teammates Leighton Vander Esch and Cedrick Wilson last year.

“Alex was an unbelievable teammate, so who knows, you’d hope that he will be again,” Rypien said.

LIKELY FREE AGENTS: Upon the draft’s conclusion Saturday afternoon, expect a few former Boise State standouts to get free agent or tryout deals. Linebacker Jabril Frazier, cornerback Tyler Horton, defensive end Durrant Miles, and receivers A.J. Richardson and Sean Modster are the most likely to get looks.

Where will they land?

Here are where some seven-round mock drafts have Rypien and Mattison being selected.

Chad Reuter,

Mattison: Chicago, fourth round, 126th overall

Rypien: Cincinnati, fifth round, 149th overall

Ryan Wilson,

Rypien: Tampa Bay, fifth round, 145th overall

Mattison: Undrafted

Luke Easterling, USA Today

Rypien: Atlanta, fifth round, 172nd overall

Mattison: Washington, seventh round, 227th overall

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

Rypien: Houston, seventh round, 220th overall

Mattison: Denver, seventh round, 237th overall

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

Mattison: Philadelphia, fourth round, 138th overall

Rypien: Indianapolis, seventh round, 240th overall

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Dave Southorn is a 2004 graduate from the University of Colorado. He has covered Boise State athletics since 2005, and worked at the Idaho Statesman since 2013. He’s won multiple Idaho Press Club awards and once won a contest designing a play for the Seattle Seahawks.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.