Boise State senior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes’ value to the offense might have become most clear when he was out for most of the past three games.
The Broncos entered the fourth quarter of those games with 10 points against New Mexico, 20 points against Air Force and 16 points against San Jose State — failing to find a rhythm until the final period, which was too late in two of those games.
Williams-Rhodes returns for his final college game Wednesday against Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl.
“He’s just consistent,” offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said. “He’s dynamic in space. He can make the 1-on-1 play. He’s a playmaker. That’s something that can never be underestimated.”
Williams-Rhodes has made 225 career catches. He needs five to pass Austin Pettis for second in school history and 20 to break Matt Miller’s record.
Williams-Rhodes racked up 77 catches in 2013, when the Broncos featured him in a screen package, and 68 in 2014 as he transitioned to a more traditional receiver role. He has added 55 this year (for 427 yards but without a touchdown) despite a high ankle sprain sustained early in the New Mexico game.
He signed with Boise State as a return specialist and multi-faceted offensive weapon in 2012.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” he said. “I just knew if I got a shot that I would be able to make plays.”
He’ll take with him a lesson about change, he said. He has played for two head coaches, three offensive coordinators and two wide receivers coaches in his three and a half years as a Bronco.
“Change is good,” he said. “I’ve learned that things are never going to stay the same. All you can do is make the most of what you’ve had.”
That’s his plan for the Poinsettia Bowl.
Rather than dwell on the opportunities he lost in November, he’s focused on what’s in front of him.
True freshman quarterback Brett Rypien is eager to operate with a full complement of receivers again.
“He just brings a whole other dynamic to the offense,” Rypien said. “We can do a lot of different stuff with him.”
Editor’s note: Three of the most productive players in Boise State football history will play their final college game Wednesday. We’ll spotlight each of them over three days. Coming Wednesday: safety Darian Thompson. Previously: cornerback Donte Deayon.