This week on “Blast From the Bronco Past,” I was lucky enough to sit down with former Boise State punter Brad Elkin. Elkin was part of the greatest era in Boise State history. He reflected on his time as a Bronco and what his role was on a team that was known for its offensive efficiency. Brad also talked about what he is up to today and his memories of Coach Pete.
Brad, Bronco Nation would love to know how you are doing. How is life post football?
Life has been great. I have been lucky enough to start a family. The one downside is that my other half is a UCF grad, and she is trying to corrupt our 4yr old daughter. I have been working for the local utility for the past 7 years and currently supervise our construction intake center. And this past summer we got a pet mini pig, Harley Quinn, who likes to cuddle and terrorize the cat. Generally not at the same time, thankfully.
You were part of the “golden age” of Bronco football. What was it like being part of such a special time?
I think the biggest take away from my time playing at Boise has been around the relationships that were built. It’s easy to look back and think of the rankings or winning games, but when you spend so much time with a group of guys the big take away is the bonds you make. There was a level of comradery that went beyond what most teams get to experience. Specialists are seen from the outside as this satellite group that isn’t always involved like the rest of the team. While this is true in a football sense, when we were off the field, in the locker room, during the off season, or outside of practice, those separations didn’t exist. This was a big part of why we were so good. We had a selfless group and created a brotherhood that continues beyond football, but aided the overall ability while on the field.
Walk us through what Fall camp and practices look like for a punter.
My experience, the specialist experience, of Fall camp was different than the rest of the team. While we put in the same hours due to early workouts, meetings, practices, etc. It wasn’t as physically draining. When at practice, the big part was to try and find ways to stay involved. When we weren’t on an empty patch of field honing our craft we were either trying to help out or watching drills take place.
For regular season practices, there was a different feel to it. The specialists would usually go out early while the groups were finishing up position meetings and getting dressed. We would be in the indoor facility warming up, since we generally had a kicking period right after the team warm ups. After our first special teams period, we would be back in the indoor only to go back with the team an hour later for another special teams period. The last hour or so of practice usually didn’t have any more special teams periods planned, so the day to day would vary. Either we would stay out and watch practice, getting involved periodically, or we would go back to the indoor to kick. At this point the kicking would be limited so that we didn’t wear ourselves out. I usually explain this to people in the way that you would think of a pitcher in baseball. They can only throw so many pitches; they need to manage their arms and bodies. It’s the same with kickers; you have to be smart about how many balls you kick especially leading up to games.
Recruiting has become such a big part of college football, but the specialists often fall through the cracks. How did that process play out for you?
During 2005-2007, the idea of recruiting specialists had really just taken off. A lot of kickers were walk-on guys, because there just wasn’t much visibility to compare one guy to the other. I spent a lot of time traveling to California while in high school to see my kicking coach. He has since become one of the big names in the kicking world; back then he had two major camps a year that were setup as competitions. It was a great way to showcase your skills and prove yourself against the top guys in the country.
College coaches of all levels could attend these camps; this is where I met Wilcox and Choate. I performed well at the camps and slowly moved up the specialist rankings. But, a big part of what people don’t realize is that you had to really put yourself out there. I put together my game films and brought about 100 DVDs to the camps to hand out. I would travel to different college campuses and get on the unofficial visit lists. Between myself and my parents, recruiting meant traveling. Social media was a newer concept so having a HUDL and tweeting coaches wasn’t an option. Thankfully, it worked out for me.
Coach Pete will always be a special part of the Boise State program. What was your reaction when you heard he was stepping away from coaching? Do you think this is a permanent move for him?
Honestly, my first reaction was shock. He was at the top of his game. One of the best and most respected coaches in the country. But, when I spent some time talking to a few teammates and thinking about it, I understood. During the season, it’s a 15+ hour a day job. In the off season, it’s 12+ hours, and that’s 7 days a week. Work life balance is important, and you have to have devote all of yourself to the work.
I don’t think the move will be permanent, but i don’t think he would say it is permanent. From what I understand, he is still going to be involved in some manner. Coach Pete likes to move the needle. Sitting idle doesn’t seem like something he would be happy with. I would like to see him coaching again, but I don’t think he will move away from the game. I’m not sure that any of this was a full answer, maybe just some perspective.
Players frequently talk about how Coach Pete impacted them off the field. Was that the case for you? If so, how?
Coach Pete leaves a lasting impact for everyone lucky enough to run into him, but that impact extends to the whole coaching staff. There was a reason they all went with him when he made the move to UW.
Football to them is a reward. You have to do everything the right way to be able to be a part of the team. You went to school to learn and play football, but you couldn’t play football without school. You couldn’t play football if you were in trouble due to bad choices.
My lasting impact really has been about taking care of my responsibilities. The staff wanted us to understand the things in life that would help us to be successful; football ends at one time or another, but will you let that define who you are?
What was your favorite memory as a Bronco? Least favorite memory?
Favorite memory is hard. There are a lot of great memories. One of the many would be the nights after home games. Up until the summer going into my senior year, I lived with Stanaway, Tevis, and Martin. There were many nights after our games where our families would all be back at our house. We would eat, relax, and just talk about the events from the night. We were all lucky enough to have our families fly in for just about every game, so the chance to all be together to celebrate another win was always a good time.
Least favorite is harder still. Every bad memory had some side to it that also made it a good one. I think the bad one would be around my back injury. I messed up my lower back during my freshman year when some big Southern Miss guy flattened me during a punt. At least I think it was Southern Miss. After I hit the ground, my attention was decidedly elsewhere. Ultimately, this resulted in a lot of hospital visits and two back surgeries. But, as I mentioned previously, there was an upside. I was able to redshirt my junior year,which gave me time to heal and reassess football mentally. I think this contributed to my successes my senior year which was day and night compared to the earlier parts.
Do you still follow the football program? If so, what should fans keep an eye out for this upcoming season?
I do still follow the program. And I enjoy the chance to sit on my couch and watch the games in late October, knowing how cold it is on the field and my only concern is wondering when the next time out will be so that I can make it to the fridge.
This may be the easy out answer, but I am excited about Holani. Watching what he was able to do this past season fresh out of high school was astounding. This 18 yr old was able to go out and make his mark. To think he will have the off season to get bigger, stronger, and smarter; I’m not sure what his ceiling is, but I am sure we have yet to see it.
I am also excited to see progress due to Winston joining the staff as a coach. As far as I am concerned, Winston is synonymous with passion. The idea that his passion and understanding of the game will be an integral part of what these young men experience will have them all ready to run through a wall.
Any parting words for Bronco Nation?
I loved Boise ever since I set foot on campus for my official visit, watching the Fiesta Bowl parade on the steps of the capitol building, seeing the passion of the city, and knowing I could be a part of it. For Bronco Nation, it’s really just a heartfelt thank you.
That’s it for this edition of “Blast From the Bronco Past.” Be sure to stay tuned, as another edition will be coming your way soon.