Five members of the Boise State football program who aren’t playing this season — including all three scout team players of the year — won’t be allowed to travel with the team to the Fiesta Bowl because of NCAA rules.
Junior wide receiver Rick Smith, a transfer from Arizona State, and redshirt freshman tailback Ryan Wolpin, a transfer from Northern Colorado, were required to sit out this season under NCAA transfer rules. Since they aren’t eligible to play, they aren’t eligible to travel, either.
Senior defensive tackle Tutulupeatau “Deuce” Mataele is serving an NCAA academic suspension this season related to his junior college record. That makes him ineligible to travel.
True freshman wide receiver A.J. Richardson is academically ineligible to play because of his high school credentials. He’s practicing with the team but can’t travel.
And true freshman defensive end Jabril Frazier, who isn’t on the roster or practicing with the team but is on campus as a student, can’t travel either. He also is academically ineligible because of his high school credentials.
All of the players lose a year of eligibility. Mataele will be a redshirt senior next year, Smith will be a redshirt junior, Wolpin will be a redshirt sophomore and Richardson and Frazier will be redshirt freshmen.
The players’ status was confirmed by John Cunningham, the senior associate athletic director for external relations and former compliance director.
Smith (offense), Mataele (defense) and Wolpin (special teams) were the scout players of the year. They can participate in bowl practices in Boise but the team will have to do without them in Arizona.
The players are able to attend the Dec. 31 game against Arizona on their own if they want. Boise State can provide a game ticket to all but Frazier, Cunningham said.
Smith and Mataele, in particular, should be impact performers next year out of this group. Mataele was a projected starter in 2013 before he was suspended from the university for a semester as part of his NCAA issue.
“Deuce he obviously was the best guy over there,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “And we’ll have him in the mix next year. He’s been a leader of that group. That D-line has been very good.”
Smith made nine starts at Arizona State last season. He caught 32 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 78 yards.
Smith accepted his scout team role this year and helped prepare the defense for games, wide receivers coach Junior Adams said. Smith has played wide receiver, tailback and quarterback on the scout team.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge for him,” Adams said. “He started (nine) games in the Pac-12 and had to sit out a year. That’s not the easiest thing to do, so we challenged him each week. He gave our defense a good look. He’s game-ready. He’s played a lot of snaps. He’s quick, he’s fast, he can make plays down the field. He can turn short plays into long gains. He’s going to be exciting to watch here.”
Wolpin (5-foot-8, 194 pounds), a walk-on, will have a role next year, too, Harsin said.
“He has really been a nice surprise,” Harsin said. “He runs hard. He’s physical. He’s going to be something. I don’t know what he is right now to be honest with you. He is a running back. He’s done a lot of different things like (Smith). From a special teams standpoint, here’s a guy we expect to be on special teams contributing.”
In addition to these five, redshirt freshman defensive end Mat Boesen is suspended from the program for the rest of the season for disciplinary reasons. He isn’t practicing with the team.
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