Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier always has been an athlete, but not always in the traditional sense.
At a young age, Bachmeier’s father, Michael, insisted he try a wide array of sports, including roller hockey.
“At 5, we had him out there practicing on roller blades, or whatever you call them, in front of our house to tighten up his ankles,” Bachmeier’s mother, April, said this week in a phone interview.
Those ankles helped Bachmeier become the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener for Boise State since the Broncos joined the FBS in 1996.
“It’s been a great honor just to be able to play at Boise State,” said Bachmeier, whose college career began with a fourth-quarter comeback against Florida State. “It was a great place to play, and I think as a unit, we prepared really well and then obviously we won the game, so it’s definitely a moment I’ll always remember.”
Football was a natural fit for Bachmeier. He threw his first touchdown pass when he was 4 years old and went to his first quarterback coach at 9. He has been training to be a quarterback for most of his life, and his mother can remember the exact game that put her eldest son on the map.
It was in 2016, five games into Bachmeier’s sophomore season with Murrieta Valley High, and it was at Oaks Christian, which is about 2 1/2 hours from the Bachmeiers’ home in Rancho Capistrano — a gated community surrounded by the Cleveland National Forest.
April Bachmeier said there was a large contingent of Nighthawks fans in the stands for a game that, on paper, the team didn’t have much of a chance to win.
Facing a private school roster full of Division I athletes, Bachmeier threw seven touchdown passes and led Murrieta Valley — a public school home to about 2,500 students — to a 70-62 victory. The Nighthawks went on to make the Division 2 CIF Southern Section state championship game where they fell to San Clemente.
“That was the game that set Hank up for the season,” April Bachmeier said of the win over Oaks Christian. “There were a lot of games, but that one stuck out more because of the celebrity status of some of the players that Oaks Christian had, and we beat them. Little Murrieta Valley.”
April Bachmeier also can remember the exact moment she realized the depth of her son’s fascination with Boise State and football in general. Well, mostly she remembers being mad that a long road trip was interrupted by a football game.
The family was in the midst of a 5 1/2-hour trip home from visiting family near Fresno, California, when Bachmeier insisted they stop for the night so he could catch the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
“We stopped in Santa Barbara at a Marriott and I thought, ‘Oh nice, we’re going to stay at the beach for a little bit.’ No, he wanted to watch the Fiesta Bowl,” said April, who took some of her children to check out the boardwalk during the game and returned just before Boise State pulled off its famous Statue of Liberty play to beat Oklahoma.
After whittling his list of scholarship offers down to Boise State and Cal, Bachmeier committed to the Broncos in May 2018, before his senior year of high school began.
He grew up watching former Broncos quarterback Jared Zabransky compete on the blue turf in Albertsons Stadium, and he was sold on what the program could do for his future after watching Kellen Moore and Brett Rypien pilot the offense before moving on to the NFL.
“It’s an incredible honor to be able to play quarterback at Boise State,” Bachmeier said Tuesday before answering a question about why he chose Boise State with “Why not? I love this place. The way they develop players is a big key, and the city is amazing.”
Bachmeier never watched football like a regular fan, though. According to his mother, he always took more of an analytical approach.
“He really followed the schemes and the different offenses,” April said. “He’s always loved the technical aspects of football. With Coach Pete (former Boise State coach Chris Petersen) and Coach (Bryan) Harsin, that’s what he’s always talked about.”
Sometimes, though, Bachmeier throws the technical stuff out the window and puts his shoulder down to move the chains.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can for the team,” Bachmeier said. “I know that those guys do everything they can to help us win the game, so I’m going to do my best for them.”
That approach has sent Bachmeier to the injury tent at least twice — in games against Hawaii and San Jose State. But as much as Harsin hinted this week that he’d like to see a few more slides out of his quarterback, he knows those requests often fall on deaf ears.
“You don’t coach every single thing. You look for competitors. You look for things you don’t have to coach, and Hank has that,” said Harsin, the Broncos’ head coach. “When you’re a competitor like that, none of those coaching points matter. You’re going to do what it takes to be successful.”
WYOMING AT NO. 21 BOISE STATE
When: 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,367 turf), Boise
TV: ESPN (Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer, Lauren Sisler)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: Boise State is 7-1 overall, 4-0 Mountain West; Wyoming 6-2, 3-1
Series: Boise State leads 12-1 (last meeting: Boise State won 34-14 in 2018 in Laramie, Wyoming)
Vegas line: Boise State by 15
Weather: 57 degrees, partly cloudy, 5 mph wind