High School Football

Boise State has offered Idaho’s next homegrown football star. But it’s not alone.

Austin Bolt’s phone blows up every Friday night and Saturday morning like clockwork.

Bolt estimates he receives 15 to 20 text messages each weekend from college coaches throughout the West congratulating him on his latest monster performance. And Borah’s do-it-all weapon has yet to give them a reason to skip a week, putting up jaw-dropping numbers week after week, just like clockwork.

Bolt said it can get overwhelming when he just wants to go to bed. But he responds to each and every one.

Such is the life of Idaho’s most sought-after football recruit.

Six Division I football programs have offered the Borah senior a scholarship entering the week. Utah State was the first to offer him an FBS scholarship last winter, and Boise State followed in early September, ramping up the pursuit of recruiters.

A born-and-raised Boise native, Bolt called the offer from his hometown Broncos humbling. He said he now gets asked 15 times a day if he’ll accept the Broncos’ offer. But Bolt has resisted the pressure and said he won’t make any decisions until after the Lions’ football season ends.

“I’m just playing the wait-and-see game, honestly,” Bolt said. “I’m just waiting until I feel more comfortable … wherever I just feel like I belong.”

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Borah’s Austin Bolt leads the 5A classification with 706 rushing yards and 11 TDs through five games. Steve Conner Special to the Statesman

Until then, Boise State and Utah State have competition. Power Five schools are also sniffing around the three-star prospect.

Bolt said Baylor told him last weekend to expect a formal offer any day. UCLA, Oregon State and Utah keep in constant contact with the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder who runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash. And Idaho, Idaho State, Montana and Montana State of the FCS Big Sky Conference also have extended offers to the receiver-turned-quarterback.

“He could play at the Power Five level,” said Brandon Huffman, the national recruiting editor for 247 Sports. “He’s the type of kid that a Pac-12 school — maybe not the schools that recruit the elite, blue-chip kids — will look at. But I think he could play at a Pac-12 school for sure, or a Big 12 school. It’s just got to be the right school.”

Bolt does so much for the Lions — lining up at quarterback, wide receiver, safety, linebacker and punter, returning kicks and punts, and even holding for the field-goal team — that college recruiters have struggled to define a spot for Bolt in their 2020 recruiting classes. Is he a wide receiver, his natural high school position? Can he add the weight needed to play tight end? Or should they turn him loose as a wrecking ball at outside linebacker?

Bolt said Oregon State sees him as a wide receiver, Utah views him as a linebacker and Boise State, Utah State and UCLA are recruiting him at tight end. Meanwhile, Baylor has floated the possibility of using him as a Wildcat quarterback after watching him carve up defenses at the head of Borah’s option offense.

247 Sports simply lists Bolt as an athlete, probably the best definition of any for the three-sport star.

He entered the fall as one of the most decorated Idaho athletes in recent history, making the 5A All-Idaho first team in football and basketball and winning two state track titles (400 meters and 4x400 relay) last year.

No other 5A athlete had made the All-Idaho first team in both sports and won an individual track state title in the same year since at least the turn of the century, according to the Idaho Statesman’s archives.

Bolt did it in his junior year.

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Borah senior Austin Bolt is also a weapon on kickoff returns, nearly returning this one the distance against Rocky Mountain before getting forced to just barely step out of bounds. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

But after a three-year starting quarterback graduated, Borah asked its best player to move from wide receiver to quarterback. Lions coach Jason Burton said he needed to get the ball in the hands of his best playmaker 50 to 60 times a game, and defenses can’t double-, triple- or quadruple-team him in the backfield.

Bolt never had played the position before this season and admits he doesn’t throw the prettiest spiral. But he’s proven himself a quick study and a lethal weapon as an option quarterback. A year after ranking as one of the state’s leading receivers, he leads the 5A classification with 706 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns through five games.

Much of that credit goes to Bolt’s unmatched will. Or his determination. Or his heart.

Call it whatever you want, but Bolt doesn’t dominate every sport he suits up for because he’s the world’s most gifted athlete. He simply outworks opponents on the football field, basketball court and track each and every day.

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Austin Bolt helped lead Borah to a 5A state basketball championship last winter. Above, he throws down a dunk against Rocky Mountain on his home court. Katherine Jones kjones@idahostatesman.com

As his football and track coach, Burton has years worth of evidence. He can’t convince Bolt to take it easy during 400-meter sprints at track practice. He’s spent much of this football season pleading him to avoid unnecessary hits only to watch him drag four defenders down the field on a kickoff return.

He even had to yell at him to get off the field at a preseason scrimmage last summer when he tried to sneak in for a few snaps at linebacker. Doctors cleared Bolt to play receiver after a broken collarbone, but not linebacker. Bolt wanted to hit someone though. His solution? Lower his shoulder into defenders and initiate contact after every catch.

“He’s kind of a goofball. But when he gets on a competitive field, he becomes a different person,” Burton said. “He wants it to be done right, and he wants to win.”

That daily desire to win — as consistent as clockwork — convinced Bolt to play out of position on offense and defense this fall. With a college future up in the air, most prospects would want to spend their senior year compiling the best film possible at their future position.

Not Bolt. And Huffman said that actually helps him on the recruiting trail.

“It shows his ability, his versatility, his athleticism, his leadership, his ability to diagnose whether he’s on offense or defense,” Huffman said. “ ... These other schools are looking at him because they feel they can plug and play him in a number of spots.”

BORAH AT CAPITAL, 7 P.M. THURSDAY AT DONA LARSEN PARK

Capital used to own this rivalry. But the gap has narrowed the past four years with Borah scoring an upset in 2015 and then beating the team across town in the playoffs last fall.

Both teams enter 3-2, have struggled with consistency and need a win to smooth their path to a home playoff game. Bolt always gives Borah a chance. But Capital has the deeper roster.

Capital 28, Borah 22

MERIDIAN AT CENTENNIAL, 7 P.M. FRIDAY

A pair of one-point losses and Rocky Mountain and Mountain View looming on the schedule turn this into a must-win game for Meridian (1-4).

Four wins all but guarantees a playoff berth in the 5A’s 12-team field and three may be enough for Meridian, which looked like a shoo-in for the postseason at the start of the year. That team still resides at Meridian. It’s time for it to show up.

Meridian 26, Centennial 20

TIMBERLINE AT ROCKY MOUNTAIN, 7 P.M. FRIDAY

Timberline (2-3) has made waves with a couple surprise victories and only fell to Borah last week on a last-second field goal. The Wolves are a real threat, just not one on the same level as No. 1 Rocky Mountain and its 17-game winning streak.

Rocky Mountain 42, Timberline 21

KUNA AT VALLIVUE, 7 P.M. FRIDAY

The top matchup of ranked teams comes at the 4A level as No. 1 Kuna (5-0) travels to No. 4 Vallivue (4-1) for the Kavemen’s first true road test.

Vallivue leads the 4A classification in scoring offense (48.6 ppg) and scoring defense (11.6). But the Falcons have yet to secure a marquee win.

Kuna, owner of 4A’s No. 2 offense (44 ppg), already owns two big-time wins over Middleton and Nampa. Take the battle-tested team and hope last week’s near loss to Thunder Ridge woke up the Kavemen.

Kuna 44, Vallivue 38

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Michael Lycklama has covered Idaho high school sports since 2007. He’s won national awards for his work uncovering the stories of the Treasure Valley’s best athletes and investigating behind-the-scenes trends.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
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