BOISE, Idaho Losing a player to the NFL draft can hurt any college football team, but the true measure of a program is the ability to replenish and continue successfully. Boise State lost Derek Schouman to the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL draft but with the return of Sherm Blaser and three returning lettermen the team should continue to find success at a position, which has been a strength of the program.
Blaser redshirted the entire 2006 season after he suffered a season-ending foot injury. Blaser was a featured part of the offense during his first three seasons with the program appearing in 29 games, registering one touchdown and a 13.2 yards per reception average.
Blaser’s journey to Boise State came via a road less traveled. He originally signed with the Broncos out of Eagle High School in February of 2000 after being recruited by Dirk Koetter’s staff. Blaser however did not attend Boise State until almost three years after signing his letter of intent because of his service on a LDS mission. He joined the team in January 2003 and the wait paid off for the Broncos, as Blaser contributed as a true freshman, becoming only one of three players to accomplish the feat during the 2003 season.
He should continue to see significant playing time during the 2007 season, offering the Broncos options both running and passing.
“I hope to be versatile enough to contribute in both the running and passing game,” Blaser said. “But if they decide to use me just receiving guy or a blocking guy I will do it. I will do whatever it takes to be on the field and help the team win.”
The ability to be multi-dimensional is a feature Blaser and the entire group of tight ends takes pride in.
“A good offense starts with a good offensive line and a good group at tight end,” Blaser said. “Guys that can be versatile athletes, being able to block and catch the ball. We want to push the tight end position from being a slower receiver or a light lineman to a real athlete.”
This new definition of multi-talented tight ends has taken hold throughout the program beginning with recruiting.
“We have so much more versatility. We have four, five maybe six guys that can work themselves into the line up,” tight end coach and running game coordinator Chris Strausser said. “This shows we are probably on the right track recruiting, because we really feel the tight end position is a one which the offense centers around.”
In 2006 the tight end position was a vital part of the offense, recording 39 receptions, 421 yards and five touchdowns. Success should continue as Boise State returns four letter winners at the position
Sherm Blaser, 6’3”, 247 lbs., senior, returns to the tight end rotation.
“Blaser is an experienced guy who has been around for a long time,” Strausser said. “He might have the best combination of a guy that can do some stuff on the line of scrimmage and in the passing game.”
Ryan Putnam, 6’2”, 248 lbs., has played in all 38 games during his Boise State career. He has recorded two touchdowns on 10 catches and holds an 11.8 yards per reception career average.
“Putnam does everything right,” Strausser stated. “He is a talented football player in terms of knowing where to go and when to be there. He plays his butt off every snap.”
Chris O'Neill, 6’3”, 237 lbs., junior, played in six games for Boise State during the 2006 season.
“O’Neill is a very smart guy, so he has some good versatility playing different spots,” Stausser said. “He is also a really good route runner who does some good things in the passing game.”
Richie Brockel, 6’2”, 249 lbs., sophomore, played in all 13 games for the Broncos in 2006 making two catches for 20 yards.
“Brockel is probably our most physical guy. He can play in the backfield and on the line of scrimmage,” Strausser said.
The Broncos have also laid the groundwork to continue success at the tight end position in the form of two redshirt freshmen and a transfer student.
Kyle Efaw, 6’4”, 223 lbs., freshman, offers youth and talent to this group.
“Efaw is a young guy who can run like heck. He has done a much better job this fall in the run game than he did in the spring,” Strausser said. “He is a guy we are expecting some big things from down the road.”
Tommy Gallarda, 6’6”, 236 lbs., freshman, redshirted for Boise State during the 2006 season.
“Gallarda is our tallest guy with the most natural tight end body type,” according to Strausser. “He can really run and do some things in the pass game.”
Ryan Angstman, 6’1”, 220 lbs., junior, came to Boise State from Santa Barbara City College.
“He has been playing his butt off and really impressed me for only being in the system five days,” said Stausser.
The versatility and depth throughout the position should offer Boise State a variety of options on offensive but the enthusiasm of the group to run block might be its best asset.
“Those guys see themselves as part of the nasty mentality up front with the rest of the offensive line,” Strausser said. “I think if you asked all those guys what their favorite thing to do in the game of football it is going to be run blocking, then they what to catch the ball.”
The willingness of the tight ends to sacrifice themselves for the team has helped Blaser and the others before him establish the position as the most versatile unit on offensive for the Broncos.