This week’s “Blast From the Bronco Past” features one of the most prolific wide receivers in Boise State history, Tyler Shoemaker. Shoemaker starred for the Broncos from 2008-2011, with his role increasing each season. Shoemaker still has the single season record for touchdown receptions with 16. We discussed his career as a Bronco, what it was like teaming with other great players, and what he is up to today.
Zach: Tyler, you were a local kid coming into Boise State, so the recruiting process was probably a little bit different for you. Describe how that went down and how you ended up at Boise State.
Tyler: “The recruiting process was actually the same for me as the rest of the class as far as getting interest from teams and being recruited by several schools. I’d say the biggest difference was having Boise State right in my backyard throughout the process. I was recruited by schools ranging from D-1 Pac 10 to 1-AA Montana State and even Carroll College. Ultimately, what got me to walking-on at Boise State was the challenge I made to myself to play at the highest level possible after college. I believed I had the skill set to play at the D-1 level and wanted to test myself. Luckily, BSU provided a great opportunity, even for a walk-on, and the rest all worked out”
Zach: What was it like being the local kid starring for the local team?
Tyler: “I don’t know about ‘star.’ We were loaded with talent every year I played. But, I will say it was an awesome experience having such a deep connection to Boise/Boise State and being from the area. Having a deep support network and a ton of friends and family in the area to share the experience with had to be a highlight. Plus, being a local gave me a different perspective into what Boise State football was and is, and all of the local guys like Kyle Efaw, Nate Potter, Mitch Burroughs, and Kyle Brotzman all connected on a deeper level being from Idaho.”
Zach: Your role increased each season. What was it like teaming with other great receivers like Austin Pettis and Titus Young? How did it help you develop your talents?
Tyler: “All of the WRs that came before me shaped how I approached my career and influenced all of our success. Whether it was going back to Tim Gilligan or TJ Acree, watching Legedu Nanee, Drisan James or Jerard Rabb, and even sharing the field with Vinny Perretta, Jeremy Childs and Titus and Austin, all those guys were people that pushed me to master my craft. When you have such a talented group around you, it propels you to push your game to the next level. Austin’s hands were outstanding so you’d spend extra time catching balls. Titus had great routes and explosive speed, so you would spend extra time on speed and agility.”
Zach: It is rare for a receiver to have the same quarterback all four years. How did it help you and Kellen develop a strong chemistry on the field?
Tyler: “That relationship started in the dorms in Taylor Hall our first fall camp. I always appreciated Kellen’s football IQ, and we would spend time studying together as Redshirt freshman preparing for our scrimmages. It grew from there, and I think by the time we were both seniors, we had so many reps together basically seeing every look the defense could throw at us, that no matter what happened we were on the same page. Trust. I always knew Kells would put me in a position to make a play. And I always wanted Kellen to trust me to do what we had practiced and to make him right.”
Zach: Describe your senior season. What was it like to be the number one receiver? How did your first few years prepare you for that role?
Tyler: “Senior year was the culmination of all the work our class had put in leading up to that. We all had a chip on our shoulder and were working towards something special. Coach Pete always taught us to embrace our current role fully to get to the next, and I think that mentality was what I brought to each year. As a freshman, I blocked and caught a few balls. As a senior, I needed to be a dependable target for the offense and make plays. All of that success was built on the years before laying a foundation.”
Zach: You were part of the greatest era in Boise State history. What made those teams so special?
Tyler: “The guys. The team. The coaches that brought us all together. The double days. 5:45am workouts. The few losses. All of that made the group we had gel at a level that I don’t think can be replicated. We were/are a group of brothers that all had one thing on our mind, winning.”
Zach: What was it like going against those elite defenses in practice? How did that help prepare you for games?
Tyler: “I give so much of our credit on offense to our defense. After my senior year, I had many interviews and meetings with NFL coaches that always asked, ‘Who was the best defender you faced?’ and every time I had to mention someone on our defense. Kyle Wilson, Orlando Scandrick, Jamar Taylor, George Iloka, Jeron Johnson, Winston Venable, Jerrell Gavins. All monsters on defense that made every one of us on offense better.”
Zach: Do you still follow the team closely? If so, what are your expectations for the upcoming season? Who is a player that you are expecting to have a breakout season?
Tyler: “I get to be a fan from a distance now. I try to follow and stay in touch, but this is the first season that I don’t really have a direct connection to any of the guys playing. It’s exciting in a way, and I think we have a ton of talent. Obviously, the WRs are special to me, and we’re loaded at WR. I would like to see Octavius Evans out there healthy. Hightower looked strong in the spring game and could be a big play guy. Khalil Shakir is looking like the real deal. Akillian Butler has a ton of experience and will help that group a ton from a leadership perspective. Exciting days for the Broncos.
Zach: Bronco Nation would love to know how life is treating you. What are you up to these days?
Tyler: “I’m living in Boise and loving every day. I’m in medical device sales and get to work with some of the docs that took care of me while I was playing. I get to enjoy all that Boise has to offer and talk Bronco football any time I can. I miss the “Shooooooooe” chants for sure, but it’s been fun watching the next wave of talent come through town.”
Zach: Any parting words for Bronco Nation?
Tyler: “Thank you for all the love and support over the years. I still get stopped places and talk about the team and the “Glory Days”. At times having that attention gets old, but you realize how much of an impact you had on the community when years later you can have these conversations and see people spark up over times you were involved in. Thank you Bronco Nation, and keep loving our boys!”
That’s it for this edition of “Blast From the Bronco Past.” Stay tuned. Next week we will chat with another Bronco legend.