Welcome to a fun off-season series that Casey (of OBNUG), Zach, and Mike (both of MWCConnection) are rolling out for your viewing enjoyment (hopefully). Back in February, excitement was at an all time high for fans and coaches alike as the 2019 class was officially signed. Like every year, fans often tout a class as potentially one of the best on paper. This year it was actually the case. However, once players get on campus and actually on the field, the true story begins to reveal itself. It can often take years for a class to truly be judged as the impact of many players won’t be seen for a few seasons. That being said, this series will aim to revisit and evaluate Boise State’s 2015 class. There has now been enough time that many members of the class have either left or are entering their final seasons, which means players are able to be looked at for their production (or lack thereof) rather than projection and hype.
Anyway, each week, Casey, Zach, and Mike will look at a different position group from the class. While we will contribute a post each week, the location of the post will change (one week on one site, the next week on the other) so readers of both sites can follow along. Each post will have all of us weighing in on the same talking points for each season: our expectations of the player from when they signed, the production they gave each season on the team, and their overall impact, which we will fit into one of 3 categories (exceeded expectations, met expectations, or below expectations). We will each keep a running tally of our totals and then at the end we can each determine the over impact the 2015 class had. It should be a fun and interesting study to see what kind of careers each player had and revisit some names that may have been forgotten.
Up first is the quarterbacks. Boise State signed one in this class and it was a big one. After striking out on big names in the prior class, the Broncos made a huge splash early in the recruiting cycle with the top name on their board, Brett Rypien. You may have heard of him as he just completed his career at Boise State, in which he was a very accomplished starter and will likely hear his name called in the NFL draft.
Expectations When He Signed
I like to think that Bronco Nation was pretty stoked out of their minds about Rypien. A highly rated player with well known pedigree, choosing the Blue over the alma mater of his uncle. At this point we were not too many years removed from the departure of Kellen as well, so Bronco fans were really looking for that Moore 2.0 player to take the Broncos back to the big time. I think the fact that he hailed from Washington, like Moore, and broke some of his records gave a sense of security and optimism to the fan base. The real test would be if he could beat out Finley for the starting job.
2015 started off interestingly in that many fans were hoping Rypien could come in and earn the starting job right away. That didn’t materialize, and Finley started the season for the Broncos. After a 1-1 start for the Broncos, Finley went down with a broken ankle in the third game of the season. Enter Brett Rypien. He didn’t relinquish the reins again. While the season ended as one of the more depressing seasons in recent memory (with home losses to Air Force and New Mexico), the Broncos finished the season with a blowout 55-7 win over Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl. All things considered, Rypien had a stellar season, considering he didn’t start 3 of the games AND was a true freshman. He earned All-MW First Team and MW Freshman of the year honors that year.
Somehow I felt that the 2016 was more depressing than the 2015 season, but for different reasons. The Broncos started off much better than the previous season, but suffered heartbreaking losses to _yoming and Air Force, finishing 10-3 and not playing in the MW title game for the second season in a row. That being said, Rypien had more yards and a better TD to interception ratio than in 2015 and finished as the MW first team QB again. I think I was more impressed with his 2015 than his 2016, but i think that’s because he played so well a year removed from high school. Expectations likely skyrocketed based on that as well, despite finishing 9-4 then. 10-3 is solid and many teams would be happy to finish with that. All in all, 2016 was an improvement over 2016.
2017 was a very interesting season. We lost to a couple of P5 schools, both in disappointing fashion. We kept it together in conference play, though, losing only to Fresno, but getting redemption on the Blue and winning the MW Championship. 2017 was, statistically, one of Rypien’s worst seasons. Finishing with less than 3,000 passing yards, only 16 TDs and finishing as the MW second team QB. I had to remind myself that Cozart accounted for 750 passing yards that season. 2017 really was a team play season at the quarterback position. It was really the only time we’ve run a two quarterback system that worked. It hurt Rypien’s end of the year stat sheet, but we won the MW that year. I don’t think too many people would be that upset about it.
Rypien’s final season as a Bronco. He had had some ups and downs, but mostly ups. This would be his swan song, as it were. Rypien saved his best season for last, throwing for 3,700 yards and 30 TDs. I know I saw a different player last season. It was obvious that Brett was ready for the next part of his journey, but wanted to make sure he cemented his legacy as one of the all time Bronco greats at quarterback. Even though the Broncos didn’t win the MW, it was the second season in a row going to the championship game. Rypien finished as the first-team MW QB as well as the MW Offensive Player of the Year.
I have to say that Rypien was a blast to watch. He did everything the Bronco way, broke records and was just a great guy. I would say Rypien met the expectations of the fan base. I want to quantify that by saying, he had very lofty expectations coming in. To play at the level expected of him, from a fan base still high from the Kellen Moore glory days, is pretty incredible. Sure, he didn’t take us to an NY6 bowl game, and some fans expected that. Kellen was an amazing player who had an equally amazing supporting cast in the rest of his team. While Rypien’s teammates were stellar as well, the Kellen Moore era will likely never be matched. I hope I eat those words. While sometimes meeting expectations can be a let down, this is not one of those cases.
Expectations When He Signed
Nick Patti x10. Rypien was hands down the highest rated quarterback recruit in school history, and he enrolled early. Boise State was coming off of a Fiesta Bowl victory, and Grant Hedrick was graduating. It was clear that Rypien would compete for a starting spot right away and would have the Kellen Moore like expectations. Expectations were even higher after Ryan Finley struggled in his first few starts and eventually broke his ankle against Idaho State.
Rypien’s first start was against a Power Five opponent on the road against a Virginia team that nearly beat Notre Dame. Rypien exceeded all expectations by having one of his best performances in his first start. The team did not have the results they wanted, especially two late season losses at home to New Mexico and Air Force. But, Rypien was solid over the course of the season and was voted first team all conference. Rypien’s performance left Bronco Nation expecting big things from Rypien and the Broncos.
Rypien was turn over prone at times, but he rode an excellent running back (Jeremy McNichols) and experienced receivers (Thomas Sperbeck and Cedrick Wilson) to a 7-0 start. Then Wyoming and the infamous safety dance took place. The Broncos lost a heartbreaker in Laramie, and Rypien finished the season with one of his worst performances against Air Force. The bowl game against Baylor wasn’t much better, but most of the team’s problems were not on Rypien and he was still first team All Mountain West.
The worst season of Rypien’s career came as a Junior. The Broncos signed a grad transfer in Montell Cozart, and it clearly impacted Rypien’s play. It didn’t help that the offensive line couldn’t protect him, and he was taking a beating the first half of the season. Unlike his Sophomore season, he got better as the season progressed. The Broncos won their only Mountain West title of the Rypien era and came away with a bowl victory over Oregon. The results were solid, it just wasn’t how we expected it to go down.
Rypien was efficient and reliable over the course of the season, and he did it without a true number one receiver for the first time in his career. Rypien was great in a loss against Oklahoma State and put up great numbers. Unfortunately for Rypien, the offensive line struggled early in the season, and special teams cost him another Mountain West championship.
When we look at the results, the Rypien era was kind of disappointing. Only one Mountain West title and zero BCS games. It wasn’t what we expected, but most of the blame shouldn’t fall on Rypien’s shoulders. It is hard to imagine what he could have accomplished if he would have had the offensive lines of the Kellen era. Rypien should be considered the second greatest quarterback in Boise State history. He had a tendency to throw interceptions in bunches, but he could make all of the throws and was tough enough to take a ton of hits. Rypien deserves to be highly regarded by Boise State and the fans. There is a reason he is likely to be the first Boise State quarterback drafted since the 1970’s. I want to say he exceeded expectations, but I am going to go with met expectations.
Expectations When He Signed
The hype was out of this world the night Brett Rypien committed to Boise State. He was the second coming of Kellen Moore in the eyes of many and fans began to dream about another golden era run they experienced when Moore was the QB. Throw in the face that he was signing early and a good portion of the fanbase were ready to anoint him as the day one starter.
He did not win the starting job out of fall camp, and word was he was a close second, but he was all set to red-shirt. That is, until a Ryan Finley broken ankle sent Brett in to the second half of a game against Idaho State early on in the season. From the first series, the offense suddenly had (new) life and Rypien looked great at the helm, totally dominating in his first start against Virginia. Sure he made some freshman mistakes at times but overall he showed the promise and skill set fans had hoped for. Not all the wins were there but the future looked bright.
Again, the season didn’t go the Bronco’s way, but Rypien build upon his strong first season and looked great most of the season. There were still some rough throws, questionable decisions and that awful Air Force game, but Brett looked like a great college quarterback and excelled in spurts. He and RB Jeremy McNichols played off each other quite well and the offense was full of weapons. Rypien looked primed for a big junior campaign.
Brett’s junior season was weird from the get go. The Troy game was much closer than it should’ve been and he basically got pulled at the end of the game. Through the first half of the season, Brett never truly looked in-sync. To make matters worse, the OL couldn’t block for him and he suffered a concussion against Washington State, then missed the New Mexico game the next week, a team he always feasted on. I believe he didn’t throw a TD through all of September and was splitting time with the mobile Montell Cozart. Fighting through a mental battle we will never truly understand the depths of, Rypien finally got his game back the second half of the year, retook the bulk of the snaps and ended up having a pretty good year. He led the team to a MWC championship and Vegas Bowl win and became a better QB for it.
All spring and summer, the word was Brett was as locked in as could be. When the season started, it could not have been more true. He was one of the best QBs in the nation during September, picking apart defenses with ease, spreading the ball around to a talented cast of receivers, and displayed amazing touch on his deep balls. Even in the loss to Oklahoma State, Rypien showed poise and great throws while taking some big hits. Outside of 6 quarters during early October against SDSU and the first half of Nevada during which he was inexplicably gun-shy and turnover prone, Brett had the type of senior year every QB dreams of. Unfortunately, he came up a bit short in the MWC championship game and had some terrible luck with the bowl game that never was. Despite all that, he finished his career as well anyone would want.
I could really see an argument being made for any of the three options here. Brett was never able to lead his Bronco teams to a NY6 bowl, which is what fans dreamed of, so many would say he failed to meet expectations. Others might say so many high school players don’t produce at the college level and Rypien really lived up the hype and was a solid four year starter, so he exceeded expectations. I’ll take the easy road and say he met expectations. Brett won a lot of games, reached his potential and although he was prone to some head-scratching plays, more often than not he made the passing game look easy and fun. Rypien’s leadership and solid skills will be missed and announcers will certainly miss the endless opportunities for “Rypien ripped it” puns. In short, he is a Bronco legend.
With that, we have a wrap on the quarterbacks. Share your thoughts on Brett in the comment section and head over to OBNUG next week where we will review the Running Back and Tight End positions.
Casey: 1 met expectations
Zach: 1 met expectations
Mike: 1 met expectations