Bronco Beat

Boise State receiver eyes starting role, changes number to honor fallen friend

Pop quiz: Which Boise State wide receiver, after senior Cedrick Wilson, has the most career receptions?

Though he had just two catches all of last season, with one coming on a trick play from fellow receiver Thomas Sperbeck, the answer, with 12 in his career, is junior A.J. Richardson.

On the Broncos’ pre-fall camp depth chart, Richardson is listed as one of three starting receivers, along with Wilson and fellow junior Sean Modster.

“Thankful for it, working hard,” Richardson said, adding his main goal in fall camp is “to be a bigger contributor to the offense.”

Along with his new opportunity for a bigger role, Richardson is entering the season with the memory of a friend inspiring him each day.

This summer, Richardson switched from No. 28 to 7.

“I decided to make the move to 7 to honor one of my partners back home, he passed away. He wore 7 in high school, so I thought it would be cool to honor him,” Richardson said.

Richardson’s teammate at Narbonne High, Robert Wood, died in a car accident Sept. 7, 2015. Wood was a defensive back on Narbonne’s back-to-back CIF Los Angeles City Section Division I championship teams with Richardson.

With Sperbeck (80 catches) and Chaz Anderson (30) departed, there is a void that must be filled with the likes of Richardson, which he said is “most definitely exciting. I think about it every day.”

“You’ve got to wait your turn,” Richardson said. “We had Thomas and Chaz, two great receivers that left. It’s time to step up, not just for me, but everybody.”

Boise State had two other number changes this offseason: running back Ryan Wolpin went from No. 30 to 21, and Nick Crabtree had his fourth change. He started out at No. 84, then went to 93, to 44 and is now No. 73. Crabtree moved to offensive line in fall camp from tight end.