BOISE, Idaho Some people are afraid of physical play, but not Boise State’s Julian Hawkins, who says the physicality, is the thing he misses most after switching positions from tight end to wide receiver.
“As opposed to playing football, it now feels like I am playing basketball,” said Hawkins who lettered in football and basketball while playing for Long Beach Poly High School in Long Beach, Calif. Even if his now misses contact, Hawkins had to learn to be a physical presence when he arrived at Boise State.
“In high school I was more of a pass receiving tight end, I didn’t even use gloves,” Hawkins said. “But I had to change when I came to Boise State just because the climate got so much colder and my hands would get beat up from run blocking.”
With the position switch, Hawkins instantly became the biggest physical presence the Broncos have at the wide receiver position. He measures 6’3” 222 lbs., or just slightly taller than 2007 NFL draft pick and former Bronco, Legedu Naanee. Hawkins knows these physical tools will give him an advantage over the defenses not prepared to handle his size.
“I am able to be more physical, with the little more weight on me,” said Hawkins. “I can use my body and make the catches over shorter defensive backs.”
Even with the switch Hawkins will still be heavily relied upon to utilize his run blocking skills as will the rest of the wide receivers.
“The receivers’ number one commitment to the team, is that they are going to be good blockers,” assistant head coach and wide receiver coach Brent Pease said. “Obviously the receivers are here to catch the ball but they want to make the difference when big runs occur.”
The wide receiver group Bronco fans will see blocking for the big runs downfield will consist of only three returning lettermen.
Vinny Perretta, 5’9”, 190 lbs., junior, played in all 13 games last season, making 17 catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
“He is well rounded and brings the tenacity in the running game. He is very flexible; we can use him as a running back and in other positions. He is a leader out there.”
Tanyon Bissell, 5’10”, 189 lbs., junior, caught two passes for the Broncos in 2006.
“He is a guy that is very competitive and that brings a passion for the game. He is a good change up guy because he is good at the short routes.”
Jeremy Childs, 6’0”, 184 lbs., sophomore, made 14 catches for 152 yards and one touchdown during his freshman season.
“Childs has to be a big play guy. I think he is a good run after catch guy and I think he can go deep. He has to be a all-around guy for us.”
Freshman and newcomers complete the receiving corps.
Toshi Franklin, 6’1”, 178 lbs., junior, has been with the program since 2004.
“He is a smooth route runner with good quickness. He is going to be a guy that brings good tenacity to the position and will be a good change of pace to (Jeremy) Childs.”
Michael Choate, 5’11”, 187 lbs., sophomore, joins Boise State after transferring from Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kan.
“He is a young guy that is learning the game on the go.”
Evan Surratt, 6’2”, 195 lbs., sophomore, is playing his first season at wide receiver after moving from defensive back midway through the 2006 season.
“He is one of the guys that have improved the most in camp. He brings us a good inside presence with good speed.”
Julian Hawkins, 6’3”, 222 lbs., junior, is playing his first season at wide receiver.
“He gives us a good body to throw to. He is very athletic so it gives us good match ups.”
Tyler Shoemaker, 6’1”, 211 lbs., freshman, adds youth to the position.
“We have seen a lot of improvement from him during camp. He will bring a big body, with speed and good hands.”
Titus Young, 5’11”, 165 lbs., freshman, adds great speed to the position.
“He is going to be very well rounded from speed, to deep routes and blocking.”
Austin Pettis, 6’3”, 200 lbs., freshman, is the Broncos second biggest receiver.
“Big play type guy with a big body. He will give us good match up ability.”
Ricky Cookman, 5’11”, 176 lbs., freshman, is a walk-on from Clackamas, Ore.
“He is getting a lot better. He will be a good short catch guy with the ability to run after the catch.”
With this many skilled receivers on the roster and each possessing a unique set of skills, it could be only a matter of time until Bronco fans see one of these players change positions to allow Boise State get their talent on the field.