Boise State Football: 2022 Breakout Candidates
The Broncos are favorites to claim another Mountain West championship. These players could play a big role in that path back to the top.
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Reasonable to expect big things.
The Boise State Broncos had an uneven year in Andy Avalos’s first season at the helm, but the optimism of the blue and orange faithful has hardly dimmed. Recruiting is as strong as ever and a number of key veterans have clean bills of health, so things should right themselves in 2022, right?
If things go sideways again, though, there are plenty of reasons not to panic. These players could be key figures if the Broncos need to dip into the depths of their roster, one of the team’s biggest strengths.
George Tarlas, DE
If you’re enthusiastic about FCS football, then you might already be familiar with Tarlas’s work over four seasons with the Weber State Wildcats. If you aren’t, then all you need to know is that Tarlas was a key defensive piece for a team that won three straight Big Sky titles in 2018, 2019, and the 2021 spring season, earning an all-conference nod three times while picking up 24.5 career tackles for loss and 19 career sacks.
Tarlas also saved his best work for 2021, finishing with a PFF grade of 85.8 while finishing the year with 54 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, five sacks, and four forced fumbles. Given Shane Irwin’s recent medical retirement, he could be a newly important piece of the Broncos’ pass-rushing group.
𝓢𝓲𝓰𝓷𝓮𝓭 ✍️ @george_tarlas#BL22DBLUE | #WhatsNext pic.twitter.com/w7XXBMXRMj
— Boise State Football (@BroncoSportsFB) December 15, 2021
Eric McAlister, WR
The Broncos have a number of young pass-catching prospects who could step into the breach this fall, but McAlister is an athlete who could stand out because, well, he stands out physically compared to his peers. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, it isn’t hard to envision him stretching the field for Hank Bachmeier; after all, he did it in his senior year at Azle High School in Texas to the tune of 20 touchdowns.
Stefan Cobbs might be the de facto WR1 headed into the fall, but McAlister may not be far behind by year’s end.
Ashton Jeanty, RB
If George Holani is healthy, there’s no doubt he’s one of the best running backs in the Mountain West. If he gets banged up again in 2022, however, Jeanty might be the first man off the bench.
And why not? The Broncos have never been shy about giving true freshmen a shot if the situation is right. Listed at 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds, Jeanty racked up 236 all-purpose yards per game and a whopping 41 touchdowns as a senior at Lone Star High School in Frisco, Texas last year. We already know that short and stout running backs like Toa Taua aren’t fun to tackle, so Jeanty might be the next star to fit that particular mold.
Freshman Ashton Jeanty runs it in from 2 yards out.
Jeanty has received rave reviews from coaches this spring. Would expect him to back up George Holani in the fall. pic.twitter.com/egj4gBrxxY
— Jordan Kaye (@jordankaye_23) April 9, 2022
Kaonohi Kaniho and Seyi Oladipo, DB
Sure, Boise State’s secondary is positively stacked, but the sophomore duo of Kaniho and Oladipo might be hard to keep off the field together after flashing a ton of potential last season. Both were the first Broncos freshmen to pick off two passes in a year since Avery Williams in 2017 and actually finished first and second among Boise State cornerbacks in overall PFF grading (74.6 and 74.4).
There’s talk that Oladipo, in particular, might replace Kaonohi’s older brother as the defense’s primary nickelback, but no matter what roles they take on in 2022, the future of the team’s defensive backfield is in good hands.
Big time play by @kaonohikaniho pic.twitter.com/vhF6CvLqJ9
— kasey richardson (@kaseyfromboise) April 15, 2021