Bronco Beat

The Boise State football team's pound-for-pound strongest player? Shane Williams-Rhodes

One of the smallest players in college football is — by one measure, at least — the strongest player on the Boise State football team.

Junior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes said Tuesday that he won the team’s competition for “pound for pound” strongest man. He squatted 500 pounds and benched 270.

He is 5-foot-6 and about 163 pounds.

“My legs have always been strong,” Williams-Rhodes said. “Even in high school, when we’d lift weights I knew my legs were the strongest part of my body. I always wanted to be the strongest when it came to squats and stuff like that. I squatted more than a lot of offensive linemen in high school.”

Said wide receivers coach Junior Adams: “He’s built like a running back, his lower half.”

Williams-Rhodes said he beat out senior nickel Corey Bell (5-11, 208) for the pound-for-pound honor.

Other notes on the wide receivers:

— The competition for the No. 3 spot alongside Williams-Rhodes and senior Matt Miller includes sophomore Thomas Sperbeck, sophomore Chaz Anderson, redshirt freshman D.J. Dean, junior Troy Ware and senior Dallas Burroughs. Sperbeck is pretty much a lock for a spot in the rotation. Dean and Anderson have made a big push early in fall camp. “It’s crazy in the receiver room,” Williams-Rhodes said. “It’s like every day somebody is stepping up. Every day, it’s a new guy. So I want to know who it’s going to be at the end of camp.”

— Anderson was a cornerback during his first two years in the program. He split time between corner and wide receiver during the summer and made the switch full time when camp opened Friday. He played receiver and defensive back in high school. So far, he has impressed. “He’s really good in and out of his breaks,” Williams-Rhodes said. “Honestly, I think he might be one of the best receivers in and out of his breaks. I think it has something to do with playing DB.” Adams said the Broncos were looking for another wide receiver and Anderson expressed interest in the move. “I went back and watched his high school highlight tape and 90 percent of it was him playing wide receiver,” Adams said. “He’s strong. He’s powerful. He’s got great ball skills. He’s fast. And he’s probably one of our better run-after-catch guys.”

— Dean, of Eagle High, grayshirted and redshirted out of high school. He made strides in spring ball and was on the summer depth chart. “D.J. is a go-hard, blue-collar dude,” Adams said. “He’s one of those guys I’ve kind of got to slow down. He shows up every day. I even said it to him last night, ‘One thing I know about you is you’re going to go 100 miles an hour.’ ”

— Williams-Rhodes continues to focus on his route-running to make the transition toward more of a traditional receiver role and less of a screen specialist. “It’s just repetition. The more you run routes, the better you get at them,” he said. Said Adams: “Shane has done a good job since spring and the summer just working on his game and becoming a complete receiver. Obviously, it’s going to help Matt. You need another guy to be able to play next to Matt to take some of the heat off Matt, so guys won’t be able to roll coverages and be able to just double-team Matt.”

— Adams has emphasized quick starts off the line of scrimmage. Last year, the receivers often made a quick move before breaking upfield. “When he broke it down to us it made a lot of sense,” Williams-Rhodes said. “It makes someone who is a 4.5 a 4.4 (in the 40-yard dash).”

— Miller’s leadership push has been noticed. “Last night I got on the phone with Matt and said he did a good job at meetings,” Adams said. “Matt is becoming more vocal of a leader, telling guys where to line up, what route to run. I think that’s very important because originally they were a very quiet group. In this offense, you’ve got to be able to communicate and guys have got to be able to talk to each other.”

— Ware, one of the experienced candidates for No. 3 receiver, has had a “quiet camp” and got banged up Monday, Adams said. “Hopefully we get him to make the plays we need him to make,” Adams said. In the spring, Adams said Ware needed to make the “moment-of-truth plays.”

— Adams on the group: “What I love about these guys is they show up to work every day, they’re eager to learn and when they go cross the line they go fast and they play hard. I love that part about them. Where I think the next step is is to be more consistent. I talked about one thing expectation wise — the first thing I talked about in fall camp was start fast and finish strong. There were times in the spring I thought we started fast but didn’t finish strong. There were times that we did the opposite. So stringing together four quarters of football is going to be very important for these guys.”

— Adams said Miller, Williams-Rhodes, Anderson and Dean all have made plays on deep balls in camp. “We’ll be able to push the ball down the field with these guys,” he said.

Other notes:

— Williams-Rhodes on backup quarterback Ryan Finley, a redshirt freshman: “He throws a really good ball. If anything were ever to happen to Grant (Hedrick), which we do not want to happen, I think we wouldn’t miss a beat with him stepping in.”

— Williams-Rhodes on tailback Jay Ajayi: “Jay is the key to this whole offense. If Jay’s being Jay, then it opens up for me and Matt and whoever that third receiver is going to be, opens up for Grant with the run. Jay is the key to the whole offense.”

Former Boise State defensive end Sam Ukwuachu, a Freshman All-American in 2012 who was dismissed from the team last year, apparently is having trouble at Baylor, too. He redshirted there last year.

Email me at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.

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