Bronco Beat

Boise State kicker Tyler Rausa prepares for long-awaited opportunity

Four Boise State football players and two assistant coaches met with the media Friday. Below are some notes, highlights from practice and video of the interviews. I didn’t include many notes from the two coaches because I’ll cover those in position previews in upcoming days.

– Junior kicker Tyler Rausa is the projected starter this season. He was recruited two years ago to fill the Broncos’ kicking void but lost a competition for the job with the improved Dan Goodale.

Goodale was the starter for two years.

“It’s been a very long two-year wait,” Rausa said. “It’s something that I think worked for the better. ... When I first got here and coach (Scott) Huff told me about redshirting, I kind of looked at it as a negative thing. I kind of got down on myself. But then when he explained it to me – ‘You’ve got these next two years to work on your game, work on yourself as a player’ – I think it has tremendously helped me, and my game is a lot better.”

Rausa is getting some competition from redshirt freshman walk-on Blake Gonzalez. Outside of a blowout PAT last season, Rausa hasn’t attempted a kick in a game since 2012 at Riverside City College.

He made a couple of game-winners there, he said, and a couple in high school.

“Love that,” he said of the pressure kicks. “That’s something that I kind of thrived on in high school.”

Rausa said he’s been “money” from 40 yards and in this spring as the Broncos focus on the shorter kicks. He estimates he’s hit 85 percent or more of his attempts overall, stretching out to 53 yards.

– Sophomore safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner, in his first media availability since he joined the team in January 2014 as a top-100 recruit, said his limited role last season allowed him to ease his way into college football. He’s playing with the first team this spring. “I’m more confident now,” he said. “I can see things and just play football.” Full story here.

– Sumner-Gardner said his biggest influence in the defensive backs room is junior safety Chanceller James. Those two will be competing for a starting job in August, when James returns from a knee injury. “Chance James is like my older brother,” Sumner-Gardner said. “We watch film every day. He’s helping me learn the defense.” Last year, then-senior Corey Bell mentored James. James eventually replaced Bell in the starting lineup.

– Running backs coach Lee Marks on the arrest of signee Raymond Sheard, who won’t be joining the team: “I’m praying for him, him and his family. And I definitely wish the best for him. But we have plenty of guys to get the ball to, which is exciting. We’ll be fine. That’s the great news. We have six healthy running backs who can do some great things.”

– Marks said he doesn’t know whether the Broncos will recruit another running back for 2015: “We’re just kind of taking it day by day and seeing how this all plays out. Right now, I’m excited about the group of guys I have now. If you told me day one we’re rolling out with this group of guys, I’m good with that.”

– Linebackers coach Andy Avalos said he hasn’t talked with linebacker Joe Martarano about his baseball plans for this summer yet. Martarano played some pro baseball last summer.

– At the end of Friday’s alumni practice, with former players on hand to watch, Bears linebacker Shea McClellin and former Boise State sack artist Chris Wing addressed the team. I’ll have a post from my interview with McClellin tomorrow.

– Boise State players will wear pink Ws on their helmets for the Spring Game in support of director of football operations Brian Wilkinson’s wife, Tami. Tami is fighting breast cancer.

– Senior safety Darian Thompson wants to see the defense “be dominant” in the Spring Game. “I’m pretty sure the offense will probably have some trick plays,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re going to work.”

– Thompson knows the stakes are high during his senior year. “I just want to leave a legacy,” he said. “I want to be one of the players that are talked about in the future as doing the right thing and being a great player for this program. ... Playing in the NFL is a dream of mine. I know I have one last shot to put it on tape and see what happens.”

– Thompson is one of few players with a tie to former quarterback Kellen Moore, who will be honored before the Spring Game. Thompson was on the defensive scout team in 2011, Moore’s senior year. “Going against Kellen is definitely a task,” he said. “He’s a great player. He’s a very smart quarterback. He knows what he’s going to do with the football. ... He’s taught me how to become a better defensive back just by reading my keys just because if you’re one step off going against Kellen it’s probably a touchdown. He’s a great player, I respect him a lot and I’m excited to see him be honored.”

– Sophomore tight end Jake Roh said he was making progress in his quest to pack on some weight before he “had some things go on” that caused him to lose weight right before spring ball. He entered the spring at 6-foot-3, 219 pounds – down nine pounds from last season. “I’ve been getting it back now,” he said. “That’s one of the big things I’m working on this summer is just getting bigger and stronger so I can be more versatile and add things in the run game.”

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SPRING BALL COVERAGE

April 9: Defensive backs preview

April 9: Turner leaves homelessness behind

April 8: Boise State expects to net nearly $1.7 million from Fiesta Bowl

April 8: Recruit Raymond Sheard arrested, won’t join team

April 7: Jordin Sparks concert to follow Spring Game

April 7: This Spring Game has some intrigue

April 6: Finley likely to lead QB pecking order into fall camp

April 6: Broncos will have new helmet for Spring Game

April 4: OT Eli McCullough uses Air Force mistakes as learning experience

April 3: Broncos to honor Kellen Moore, not retire jersey

April 2: Special teams preview

April 1: QB competition likely to last deep into August

March 31: Recap of Bryan Harsin’s weekly press conference

March 31: Cornerback Jonathan Moxey prepares to excel

March 30: Wide receivers preview

March 29: Chaz Anderson builds on successful position change

March 24: Bertoli, once slighted, has proven himself a Division I player

March 20: Dillon Lukehart retires for medical reasons

March 19: Bryan Harsin recaps first scrimmage

March 17: Broncos help Lyle Smith celebrate 99th birthday

March 13: Defensive line preview

March 12: DL Tyler Horn gets second shot at senior year

March 11: Adventurous former walk-on Charles Bertoli chases RB job

March 10: All signs point to Kellen Moore tribute at Spring Game; read a replay of our live chat

March 10: Tanner Vallejo back home at middle linebacker

March 9: Seven players out for spring with injuries; highlights from the first day of practice

March 9: Players and positions to watch this spring

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