Welcome to our new column, “The Peak Perspective.” It’s basically what you’ve been seeing on Wednesdays over the past year, but with a name and a bit more narrow focus. Our team of writers will take turns tackling the tough questions in the Mountain West and offering our thoughts, views, and opinions within this feature. Kicking off the rebranding is looking at Brett Rypien’s legacy while at Boise State.
When Brett Rypien signed with the Broncos, the excitement was palpable. Bronco Nation thought we had the next Kellen Moore, the player that would bring the Broncos back into the national spotlight. Rypien graduated high school early, so he could compete for the starting position right away. While we weren’t sure what his career would hold, we knew that he would carry himself with class and integrity. Here, we are going to focus on the career of Brett Rypien, and the impact he had on Boise State University.
Brett Rypien enrolled in January and entered Boise with lofty expectations. The similarities to Kellen Moore were noticeable: both came from western Washington and are prominent in the state record books. In fact, Rypien broke many of Moore’s records. The moment he stepped onto campus, Rypien was embroiled in a quarterback competition against Ryan Finley. I remember attending the Spring game that year, and it was clear that Rypien had an impressive arm and solid pocket awareness. However, the experience of Ryan Finley ultimately outweighed the talent of Rypien and it appeared that he was set to redshirt.
The Bronco offense sputtered early that season; they battled their way to a low scoring victory over Washington and lost a heart breaker against BYU in Provo. In the third game of the season, the Boise Stat faced off against FCS foe, Idaho State. Finley broke his ankle, and Rypien started the second half of that game. The coaches made a decision, and there was no looking back; they were going to ride or die with the true freshman.
Rypien went on to have a solid freshman year, completing over 63% of his passes for 3353 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Rypien finished the season earning first team all-conference. However, the results of the season were somewhat disappointing as the Broncos were relegated to a match up against Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl. Rypien’s MVP performance in that game left Bronco fans excited for the future.
This was one of the more perplexing seasons in Boise State history. They started the season with some impressive victories over solid teams like Washington State and Oregon State. The season was 7-0 before heading to Laramie. After a Josh Allen prayer, the game was tied, and the Broncos had a chance to win the game. However, Rypien took a safety in the end zone, and the safety dance was born. Moments like these are why some Bronco fans question Rypien’s legacy. The Broncos rebounded from that loss with three consecutive victories, and their hopes of winning the Mountain West were still alive.
Rypien finished the 2016 campaign with two of the worst performances of his young career. Air Force continued to be a bugaboo for Rypien, as he struggled for the majority of the game and relied heavily on his top two receivers, Cedrick Wilson and Thomas Sperbeck. Rypien completed only nine passes that game, all of which were to Sperbeck and Wilson. BSU almost pulled off an impressive comeback, but fell short in Colorado. The Cactus Bowl was not much better for the Broncos and Rypien. They struggled to establish the run game against an athletic Baylor squad, and Rypien was forced to air it out early and often. He threw the ball 51 times and struggled in some key spots, throwing two crucial interceptions. The Broncos were clearly outmatched against a Big 12 team with superior athleticism. A season that started with such great promise and a top 15 ranking, ended with disappointment.
This was perhaps the worst year of Rypien’s career and it is the only year he won the Mountain West Championship. The Bronco offensive line struggled early and often that season, and Rypien was knocked out early in the Washington State game with a concussion; he also missed the following week against New Mexico. Rypien was also pushed by grad transfer, Montell Cozart. While Rypien never lost his starting job, it felt like he was always looking over his shoulder.
Rypien recovered to have a strong second half of the season, including a nice showing in a victory over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. He finished his junior campaign with 2877 yards and 16 touchdown passes, and his numbers were strong enough to earn second team all-conference honors.
Rypien’s senior year was his most impressive; he started the season with his best, four game stretch with more than 300 yards in each game. Things took a turn for the worse when he had one of his worst performances in a home game against San Diego State. Rypien looked rattled, completing only 21 of 41 passing attempts for 170 yards and two interceptions. He also struggled in the Mountain West Championship game against Fresno State, although the weather may have played a role. While there were some tough performances, this was far and away Rypien’s most consistent season. He finished with career highs in completions, attempts, completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns. The Broncos failed to meet their lofty, preseason expectations, yet again, but Rypien asserted himself as a legitimate NFL prospect.
While his career was filled with many ups and downs, Brett Rypien always carried himself like a true professional. He is second in Boise State history in most passing categories and won a ton of games. I think Rypien is easily the second best Bronco quarterback of all time, and he is much closer to number one than number three. Boise State fans often have a misplaced notion of what a starting quarterback should be, thanks to the unbelievable Kellen Moore years, but I saw an interesting question posed on social media the other day: what record would Rypien have with the same players and the same schedule? I think it would be closer than many people think. Where do you rank Rypien among Bronco quarterbacks? If you have anyone other than Moore ahead of him, I would love to hear who and why in the comments below.