Boise State STUD end Demitri Washington wore many hats as a high school football player.
Running the ball, catching passes and pressuring quarterbacks, he did it all at Santa Fe Christian. But even as comfortable as he was filling any role his team needed him to, the one place Washington never could get cozy was in the water.
He grew up a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean in Solana Beach, California, but he didn’t learn how to swim until the summer before his freshman season at Boise State.
“My family, we’re not … swimmers,” Washington said. “I was always a big guy, so I could always touch in pools, and I always knew my limits. I wasn’t going to go out there, and if I did go deep, I was finding the quickest way to the edge of the pool possible.”
Most kids learn how to swim from their parents. Others learn the strokes from a camp counselor or at the local YMCA. Washington — a 6-foot-3, 254-pound redshirt freshman who could step into Curtis Weaver’s role next year — learned how to keep his head above water from Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin.
Every year, the freshmen congregate at Harsin’s house for a cookout and a day of fun and sun around the pool. When it was time to hit the water in summer 2018, everybody was ready to go except Washington.
“It was like, ‘We’re going right now,’ and everyone’s just looking at me and laughing because most of the guys know I don’t know how to swim,” Washington said.
When Washington did climb into the pool, Harsin noticed him lingering in the shallow end and knew it was time for a lesson.
“Harsin pulled me aside and said: ‘Hey, you’re getting old now. You’ve got to learn how to swim,’” Washington said.
Harsin said it isn’t tough to pick out the players who don’t know how to swim and that Washington wasn’t the first Bronco to get a lesson in the pool from him.
“The guys that know how to swim will jump right in and they’ll swim around... And then there’s the guys that just sit in the shallow end,” Harsin said. “They’re more than capable of doing it physically, so it’s just more of a psychological thing.”
The lesson began with Harsin teaching Washington how to float on his back. After much convincing, he got him into the deep end for full-on instruction.
Washington still isn’t doing backflips off a diving board and he isn’t about to enter a 50-meter freestyle race, but as long as he keeps perfecting his pass-rushing technique, nobody is going to judge him too harshly.
Harsin believes everyone should know how to swim, but him teaching Washington how to stay afloat was more about connecting with him as a human being.
“You’ve got to remember this. These are people... If they’re happy, things in their life are going well, then they’re probably going to have the right mindset,” he said. “If they’re not and things aren’t going well but you didn’t take the time to figure that out or you didn’t take the time to learn that a guy didn’t know how to swim or to sit down and have a conversation with a person, then I think you’re losing opportunities for these guys to show up every day and just feel good about where they’re at.”
No more party in the back
Boise State offensive lineman John Molchon is sporting a new look heading into Saturday’s game at San Jose State.
Since fall camp, he had been wearing a mullet courtesy of a haircut by center Garrett Larson. On Wednesday, Molchon debuted his new, shorter, more professional look. The party in the back is gone. Now, he’s all business all the time.
“I had to reset,” Molchon said, adding that Larson was not his stylist this time. “It was definitely time to switch it up.”
In reality, Molchon said his haircut had more to do with the mullet “getting kind of grimy” than as a result of the Broncos’ loss to BYU, but he did say little changes can add up and make a big difference.
“It’s been a ton of reevaluation, I’d say,” Molchon said. “Coach Harsin and the entire staff put together a great plan, and if we follow it, it will take care of business. The hair had nothing to do with that whole mindset. It’s just doing the little things.”
Pierce and Love reunited
Several Boise State players will have family members and friends in the stands on Saturday at San Jose State. Defensive lineman Chase Hatada — a Rocklin, California, native — said Tuesday that he expects to have as many as 85 in attendance.
Boise State safety DeAndre Pierce also may have some familiar faces in the stands, but there will be one on the other side of the line of scrimmage, too. Pierce and San Jose State quarterback Josh Love played together at Long Beach Poly High.
In 2014 — Pierce’s junior year — he intercepted a pair of passes and racked up 54 tackles while Love, a senior, threw for 3,199 yards and 41 touchdowns. Together they helped lead Long Beach Poly to the Pac-5 semifinals.
Heading into Saturday’s meeting, Love — a fifth-year senior for the Spartans — is completing 59.4 percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,355 yards and 15 touchdowns. Pierce has been limited by injuries. The BYU game was just his third appearance of the season and he has six tackles to his credit.
Potato Bowl extends sponsorship
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl has agreed to a sponsorship extension with the Idaho Potato Commission, which will keep the IPC as the game’s title sponsor through 2023.
The game has been played annually at Albertsons Stadium since 1997. The 23rd Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will take place on Jan. 3, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN for the 12th straight year.
“We are excited to continue our relationship with the Idaho Potato Commission,” said Kevin McDonald, executive director of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. “There could not be a more fitting title sponsor for this bowl game. We have built a strong relationship with the IPC over the last eight years, and look forward to many more.”
NO. 21 BOISE STATE AT SAN JOSE STATE
When: 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday
Where: CEFCU Stadium (30,456 grass), San Jose, California
TV: CBS Sports Network (Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Jenny Dell)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: Boise State is 6-1 overall, 3-0 Mountain West; San Jose State is 4-4, 1-3.
Series: Boise State leads 13-0 (last meeting: Boise State won 45-31 in 2016 in Boise)
Vegas line: Boise State by 17
Weather: 79 degrees, sunny, 7 mph wind