For the third consecutive year, we are previewing the top players on Boise State’s roster. To clarify, this is not who we think the top ten players on the roster will be at the end of the season or who we think the most important players are, but the most skilled players entering the season. We will be previewing one player each week heading into the season. This week is number two.
Zach: This has been a tough list to compile, but the top two were pretty easy for me. Coming in at number two is sophomore running back George Holani. Holani is entering his third year at Boise State but is listed as a sophomore because he appeared in only four games. Holani had arguably the best freshman season a Boise State running back has ever had. He gained more than 1,000 yards on the ground after starting the season as the third string running back. Holani was poised for a big sophomore season before he injured his knee in the second game of the season against Air Force.
Holani’s presence will be felt on the ground this year, but he will also be a dynamic player in the passing game. He has already proven he can be a reliable pass catcher, and new offensive coordinator Tim Plough loves to use the running backs in the pass games. I think Holani should get 1500 total yards fairly easily if he can stay healthy.
Danny: Two weeks until the season opener and we are at number two on the list of the most skilled Broncos. I had a hunch about how Zach would conclude his top-10, so I wanted to mix it up a bit. At number two is senior wide receiver Khalil Shakir. The talented receiver is back on The Blue one more time to add to his already legendary Bronco career.
Boise State fans already have trouble creating a best Boise State wide receiver of all-time Mount Rushmore (Titus, Pettis, Sperbeck, Miller, Wilson, Hightower), and Shakir is looking to make that task even more difficult after the 2021 season. If last season is any indication, the speedy receiver will do just that.
In seven games last season, Shakir compiled 52 catches for 720 yards with six touchdowns. If the Broncos make the Mountain West Championship game and a bowl game, they will play in exactly twice as many games in 2021. If you double Shakir’s numbers you end up with a jaw-dropping and record-breaking season of 104 catches, 1440 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers would easily catapult Shakir into the Mount Rushmore discussion.
It’s likely the new Boise State offense will spread the ball around more than Harsin’s offenses did. Running back receptions and targets to receivers three through five will likely prevent Shakir from leading the team in every single season receiving record known to man. That’s not the point, though. The point is he has the skill and talent to pull off the nearly unthinkable feat.