*The beginning of this article is a reprint of a previous iteration of this story designed to introduce the premise of the most important annual Boise State football award in the history of the universe (and who won it!). If you just want to see the 2023 Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco Award winner, scroll to the last few paragraphs.
Everyone remembers the superstars, the stalwarts, the legends of the game. We all reminisce about the freakish athletes, the league leaders, and the guys that fill up the stat sheet game after game after game. What about the other guys? What about the guys that made those highlight reel memories possible?
What of the running back who excelled in pass protection instead of breaking off 80-yard touchdown runs? How about the nose tackle with nothing in the box score and a bruised body after eating up offensive linemen for 70 snaps? What about, you know, just about every offensive lineman who has every laced up a pair of cleats?
These are the underdogs. The players who a casual fan can barely recall, but a coach or a teammate will remember forever. The guys that do the dirty work. The players who never give up. The players that don’t always get recognition, but always answer the bell when called upon. Many people are saying (fine, just me) that the man who embodies the underdog spirit in Bronco Nation lore is wide receiver Chaz Anderson.
A Quick Trip Down Anderson Lane
Chaz Anderson was a three star recruit out of Los Angeles. He committed to Boise State as a cornerback. After redshirting in 2012, Anderson played three games at corner in 2013. Then Bryan Harsin and Mike Sanford showed up and were looking for a third receiver to compliment Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes. They found their man in Chaz Anderson.
Anderson would go on to play in 34 games as a wide receiver for Boise State. The stat sheet shows 93 catches for 1420 yards (15.3 YPC) with five touchdowns. It doesn’t show anything about the countless downfield blocks that sprung big plays for stars like the aforementioned receivers and luminaries like McNichols, Sperbeck, Mattison, and Wilson. It also doesn’t capture the big moments (see: Fiesta Bowl III) or the joy that a certain BSU fanatic (again, me) had while watching the man play.
The Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Player Award
With the overly dramatic intro out of the way, let’s get down to brass tax. I’m sure many readers are wondering where they can find more information about this award. What page of the NCAA record book lists previous recipients, when is the ceremony on ESPN, and does it come with a house like the Heisman? I regret to inform you that, again, it’s just me. So, who are the past winners? Read on:
Inaugural (2018) Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco: Sean Modster
Wide receiver Sean Modster entered the 2018 season coming off of a junior campaign with 32 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Entering his senior season he had an opportunity to vastly increase his production and playing time. Fans weren’t exactly betting the farm that he would. Flashier names were fighting for those reps. After being named the Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco, reviews were....uh, not great (also nobody but me cared, whatever):
Here’s how it all started:
Y'all are upsetting me with BSU talk today...Modster is OFFICIALLY my guy this season. Sleep on him at your peril.— Positivity Peace Officer (@ddenato04) August 24, 2018
It had a different name in its infancy, and let’s just say folks weren’t exactly fired up:
How’d I Do?
Nailed it! Sean Modster led the team in receptions (68), yards (978), and tied for the most touchdown receptions (8). To top it off, this award (with help from his ability) got the man into the NFL.
Second Annual (2019) Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco: Jalen Walker
Jalen Walker entered the 2019 season in a position battle to start alongside Avery Williams. He wasn’t a complete unknown, but there was real debate about whether or not he’d win the starting job. This time around results were mixed (still, basically nobody cared):
How it started waaaaay back in 2017 (I need to delete all of my tweets, they are all bad)
I don't know who Jalen Walker is.— Positivity Peace Officer (@ddenato04) December 16, 2017
Once I smartened up, I made the call in 2019. Boise State Sports Report learned a valuable lesson from 2018:
The Mountain West Connections own Zach Ballard disagreed (or maybe he was just making fun of me, who knows)
How’d I Do?
Nailed it! No commentary necessary, Jalen Walker became a lockdown corner almost immediately. He goes down as a legend in a very crowded cornerback group at Boise State
We're just gonna go ahead and circle the name Jalen Walker (Boise State CB 15) right now pic.twitter.com/2K8eOJ2XPp— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) December 21, 2019
Third Annual (2020) Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco: Tyreque Jones
Okay, so 2020 was obviously going to 2020. Jones played in five games in 2020 and dealt with injuries. He was super impressive against FSU, but injuries prevented the Chaz award from the trifecta
How it started (by the way EVERYONE agreed, thanks for the jinx, guys...)
*Clears Throat*— Positivity Peace Officer (@ddenato04) October 4, 2020
The 2020 third annual Chaz Anderson "Most Underrated Bronco" award goes to...Tyreque Jones, RS JR, FS.
The most smug I felt about the pick (I really should delete all of my tweets, cringe as the kids say)
How’d I Do?
How’d you do in 2020? Don’t judge me. 2020 was a dumpster fire!
Announcing the 2021 Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco Finalists
Many players were considered, but most were discarded because they were either too well known (JL Skinner being the one I was going to cheat with) or they didn’t really fit the “underrated” vibe (Markel Reed belongs on a rising stars list or something). It really came down to two options:
- Run it back and ride with Tyreque Jones
- Go with my gut and take Octavius Evans
Both are great options and both could be bigtime winners. However, there can only be one.
Fourth Annual (2019) Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco:
Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Octavius Evans is entering his second senior season at Boise State and it is his time to put it all together (please stay healthy, please stay healthy, please stay healthy) and make his mark as a Bronco. He has the skills, ability, and talent to make his final season a memorable one. Also, it would just be a fantastic story.
Octavius Evans wears the #1 jersey, he earned it by putting in work over Summers, Springs, and Falls. It hasn’t translated to success on The Blue. Injuries are a big part of that, but now the man has a chance to suit up for the Broncos one more time. I think he’ll make the most of it. Maybe he won’t lead the team in yards, catches, and touchdowns, but underdogs do the dirty work, underdogs don’t give up, and underdogs answer the bell when called upon. Good luck Octavius, and Go Broncos!
How’d I Do?
This is a tough one. Evans had career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns in 2021 (also tying the for the team lead in receptions), but nobody would say it has a break-out season like Sean Modster had in the inaugural Chaz Anderson award season. However, the spirit of the award is not about stats or flash, it’s about impact, and there is no question that Evans’ leadership was vital in a young WR room. I’ll take half a W.
Fifth Annual (2022) Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco: Billy Bowens
Here were my thoughts at the time:
Billy Bowens is in the fourth year of an injury-laden career. He has always been a tough WR, and this is the year he stays healthy and puts together a big season and leads the team in receiving.
How’d I Do?
This is a redux of 2021. Bowens had the best year of his career. He played in 14 games and had career highs in receptions (second on the team), receiving yards (second on the team), receiving touchdowns (T1 on the team), rushing yards, and all-purpose yards. Like Evans, it wasn’t a huge break-out, but he did the dirty work and stepped up in huge moments. However, I get zero points for 2022 and you should NEVER listen to a thing I say ever again:
Sixth Annual (2023) Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Bronco: George Holani
My initial thought for the recipient of this prestigious award was Stefan Cobbs. There are several reasons he could be the pick (I won’t get into it here, this article is long enough already), but at some point, it became incredibly clear who the choice had to be.
Now I know some of you are thinking, “in what universe is George Holani underrated?” The Twitterverse, that’s where. There have been dozens and dozens of tweets implying or straight out saying that Holani should firmly be the number two running back. There are tweets saying that Holani should be on the low end of a 70/30 split in carries. There are tweets saying Holani has “decreased in his game.” Even the tweets supportive of Holani often provide a caveat that they don’t think he’s the most talented back on the team.
Remember this isn’t the most disrespected Boise State Bronco player (I don’t think many if any of the tweets are disrespecting Holani), it is the most underrated Bronco football player. George Holani qualifies. Holani will lead this entire offense and will continue to put the team on his back and break the backs of Bronco opponents with heart-breaking long runs and tough, dominant running to seal victories in the fourth quarter.
It seems a little strange, but George Holani, the player who skipped the NFL to return for one last ride with the Broncos, is the Chaz Anderson Most Underrated Player for the 2023 season. Good luck, George, and Go Broncos!