Toughest Players For Boise State To Replace For 2018
Find out who our staff likes this week
Who will step up for Boise State in 2018?
Leighton Vander Esch, JR Outside Linebacker
The conference defensive player of the year, Vander Esch was a terror for opposing offenses in 2017. With 141 tackles with 2 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles, Vander Esch was the leader of a young offensive group ranked as one of the best in the conference.
In his last game on the Blue Turf, Vander Esch sealed the Mountain West Championship for the Broncos with a game-sealing interception. A former walk-on and fan favorite, this Riggins Idaho product is expected to be drafted between the 2nd and 4th round of the NFL draft.
Replacement in 2018: The Broncos will bring back the rest of the linebackers that finished the season. While replacing Vander Esch’s presence completely will be impossible, expect starting middle linebacker Tyson Maeva (SO) to take on more of a leadership role and Kekaula Kaniho (FR), Desmond Williams (rFR), Benton Wickersham (rFR), and Riley Whimpey (FR) to get more opportunities.
Cedrick Wilson, SR Wide Receiver
While Michael Gallup, the incredible wide receiver from Colorado State might be considered the most ‘elite’ wide receiver in the Mountain West Conference but Cedric Wilson may be the best. When the two talented wide receivers went head to head, it was Wilson that made all the big plays in the second half including a huge onside kick recovery.
Wilson, a former junior college transfer, would likely be on top of all the Boise State wide receiver records had played for Boise State for 4 years. The stats simply do not lie for Cedric Wilson: 139 receptions, 2640 receiving yards (including 1511 in 2017) and 18 touchdowns in two seasons but Wilson saved his best performance for last. Cedrick Wilson went off for 10 catches and 221 yards with a touchdown against the Oregon Ducks in the Las Vegas Bowl. With an official invite to the combine to the NFL combine in hand; expect to see Cedrick Wilson playing on Sundays next.
Replacement in 2018: You do not simply replace a player like Cedric Wilson with the ‘next man up’ but there are a lot of players who will get more opportunities in 2018 including A.J. Richardson (JR, 33 receptions for 494 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Sean Modester (JR, 32 receptions for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns) along with youngsters CT Thomas (FR) and Octavius Evans (FR). Highly touted recruits Khalil Shakir, Cameron Thomas, and Stefan Cobbs may immediately contribute as well.
Jake Roh, SR Tight End
The all-conference tight end finishes his Boise State career with 117 receptions, 1288 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Roh was a dominant force in 2017 before injuries slowed him down near the end of the year.
Replacement in 2018: Roh’s primary backup, Alec Dhaenens (SR), will also be moving on from Boise State. Giant John Bates (FR, 6 foot 6 and 253 pounds) got some playing time when Roh was injured and Matt Pistone (SO) is among the rotation that returns. Pistone is primarily a blocker and played a hybrid fullback/tight end position. A player to watch out for is Chase Blakely. A former highly touted recruit who was a late flip from Washington, Blakley has been slowed down by injuries thus far in his career.
Montell Cozart, SR Quarterback
Usually, you would not find the backup quarterback on a list of toughest players to replace, especially when the starter is a 3-time all-conference selection. Cozart transferred to Boise State from Kansas and provided a spark as a dual-threat quarterback and even lined up as the wide receiver with starter Brett Rypien (JR) behind center.
Replacement in 2018: Rypien showed tremendous leadership in playing alongside Cozart. Rypien went absolutely crazy down the stretch of the (going with 14 touchdowns against 1 interception in the last 8 games of the season before the bowl game). Expect Rypien to finish his career at Boise State with a bang. Chase Cord (FR) and Jaylon Henderson (JR, junior college transfer) round out the Broncos quarterback depth chart.
Ryan Wolpin, SR Running Back
Back up to all-conference honorable mention Alexander Mattison (SO), Wolpin provided the Broncos with a tough reliable back up who ran tough between the tackles. When Mattison went down with a leg injury in the conference championship game, it was Wolpin who iced the game by picking up a first down on the ground. Wolpin chipped in 71 yards and two touchdowns in the Las Vegas Bowl versus Oregon while Mattison was limited with injuries.
Replacement in 2018: Mattison was a workhorse in 2017 (1086 yards on a 5.1 average and 12 touchdowns) and the rest of the Mountain West should expect more of the same in 2018.Robert Mahone (rFR) and Drake (FR)round out the rest of the depth chart along with incoming recruits Andrew Van Buren and Danny Smith.
Mason Hampton, SR Offensive Lineman (Center)
The one area where the Broncos are taking a hit in 2018 will be the offensive line. Two starters are lost to graduation including all-conference selection Mason Hampton.
Replacement in 2018: Back Garret Larson (SO) will look to pick up the reigns from Hampton in the middle.