Hank Bachmeier has been hailed as one of the best recruits in Boise State football history.
He clearly lived up to that hype with his impact during fall camp, as coach Bryan Harsin said Saturday that Bachmeier will be the Broncos’ starting quarterback for their 2019 season opener against Florida State.
The Broncos and Seminoles clash at 5 p.m. Aug. 31 in Jacksonville, Florida (ESPN).
“Hank earned it,” Harsin said in a meeting with the media after Saturday’s Fall Fan Fest. “It wasn’t given to him. ... He made throws, he completed passes, he did things in the pocket and he made decisions out there that we want to see. And whether a freshman, senior, doesn’t matter, those are the things that we’re looking for at that position.”
Bachmeier (6-foot-1, 202 pounds) will be the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener for the Broncos during the school’s FBS era, which began in 1996.
He beat out redshirt sophomore Chase Cord and senior Jaylon Henderson (one pass attempt last year) for the starting job. Cord was the primary backup last season before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in an October practice. Cord was 6-for-9 for 67 yards and a touchdown with an interception in four games last season. He also rushed for 109 yards and a TD on eight carries.
Cord is less than 11 months into a rehab that can take up to a year for an athlete to regain all of his former strength and explosiveness. The injury wasn’t a factor in the decision, Harsin said, but has had an effect on Cord.
“For Chase, that’s been part of it,” Harsin said. “Chase has done everything that he’s been asked to do ... but for Chase he’s still getting better and it was good to see him kind of run around today and cut it loose, a little bit more energy than just being at a practice. You’ve got some fans out there watching.”
Bachmeier joined the Broncos in January, graduating from high school a semester early. He impressed coaches with his commitment through the spring and summer, earning a spot in the veterans practice the first four days of fall camp when the roster was split.
Bachmeier had a “girl back home” who would quiz him about the playbook on the phone, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zak Hill said before camp.
“Hank’s a very smart guy, and he’s got the ability as a quarterback, and the fundamental movements,” Hill said. “He’s got that ability already to play at a high level. But really what I was most impressed about was how quickly he learned it. ... You can see the urgency was there.”
Bachmeier’s preparation also has impressed teammates, sophomore wide receiver Khalil Shakir said earlier this week. Bachmeier and other Boise State players weren’t made available to the media Saturday.
“You don’t really see him freak out too much,” Shakir said. “He’s a smart kid.”
Bachmeier “didn’t really know anything” in the spring, Harsin said, but was able to make a significant leap in the summer and fall through his study habits. He’s also coachable, Harsin said.
“I think he’s made some really good strides, and certainly he’d be the first one to tell you that has to continue,” Harsin said. “Right now, this is where we are and you guys know how those things can change. When you’re talking about a four-year guy, it’s a little bit different, right? ... And so it’s still, you’ve gotta be competitive, you’ve gotta prepare, you gotta come out and make plays, you gotta perform in practice because that’s all we can judge him off of is what he does in practice ... . We certainly know it’s not gonna be perfect, so how is he going to be able to overcome that?”
In four seasons at Murrieta (California) Valley High, Bachmeier threw for 13,150 yards and rushed for 2,190. He had 156 touchdown passes to 30 interceptions and rushed for 32 more scores.
Bachmeier committed to Boise State in May 2018 and signed in December of that year, drawing offers from Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Colorado, California and Washington State before choosing Boise State.
He was ranked as the No. 6 pro-style passer in the nation by 247Sports.com, which reported that Bachmeier’s choice primarily was between Boise State and Cal.
Bachmeier lived in an area surrounded by national forest in Southern California, at a higher elevation than Boise, and he told the Los Angeles Times last year his appreciation for nature and open space might have contributed to his college choice. He was home-schooled until high school and has four younger siblings. The boys are named Bear, Tiger and Buck.
“I don’t really want to live close to people,” Bachmeier told the Times. “Maybe that attracted me to Boise State. I like keeping to myself.”
High school coach George Wilson told the Times that Bachmeier is “uniquely humble.”
The quarterback wore a cap and gown to his signing ceremony at his high school, a nod to his early graduation. He spoke with emotion as he addressed the crowd.
“I really just kind of wanted to wear this for my family just to show them that we’ve worked pretty hard and we’ve still got a lot to go,” Bachmeier said that day. “It’s just kind of one chapter ending and kind of another one for my journey and I can’t thank you guys enough for what you guys have done for me.”
When he committed, Bachmeier told 247Sports.com he would have a chance to compete for a starting job as a true freshman and mentioned the Florida State opener. He dreams of playing in the NFL, he said — and he’s got big dreams for the Broncos, too.
“My goal is to compete for a national championship when I get there and I know they have the program to do it,” he told 247Sports.com.
Bachmeier replaces four-year starter Brett Rypien, who is competing for a roster spot with the Denver Broncos in the NFL. Rypien also started for Boise State as a true freshman but not the season opener, replacing the injured Ryan Finley during the third game of the season. Rypien was 7-3 as a starter that season, including two November home losses and a Poinsettia Bowl win.
Bachmeier follows Rypien (2016-18), Finley (2015), Grant Hedrick (2014), Joe Southwick (2012-13), Kellen Moore (2008-11), Taylor Tharp (2007), Jared Zabransky (2004-06) and Ryan Dinwiddie (2001-03) as season-opening starters in the WAC/Mountain West era. Moore, who was a redshirt freshman in 2008, is the only other freshman in that group.
Meanwhile, it will be important for the Broncos to retain Cord in a sport where backup quarterbacks are transferring at a high rate. The Broncos already have lost true freshman Kaiden Bennett, who joined the team in January to compete with Bachmeier.
Harsin said he didn’t talk to Cord about whether he was committed to staying put, but he spoke highly of the quarterback’s character and competitiveness. He emphasized that Bachmeier’s status as the starter isn’t necessarily permanent.
“No doubt about it, Hank has earned that opportunity,” Harsin said. “... I’ve talked with the other quarterbacks, they understand, but at the same time I don’t want any of them satisfied with being in that position, so that’s gotta continue as far as just that competitive nature.”
NOTES: Walk-on kicker Eric Sachse, a senior, was placed on scholarship after an impressive fall camp. He will be the starter for scoring kicks, Harsin said. Junior Joel Velazquez will handle kickoffs and punts. ... Redshirt sophomore long snapper Daniel Cantrell of Bishop Kelly High also was put on scholarship. ... Junior Robert Mahone, sophomore Andrew Van Buren and true freshman George Holani will see time at running back, Harsin said. ... Linebacker Josh Booker-Brown, a junior college transfer, has joined the team. His arrival was delayed by an academic issue.