In his first season as a starter and lined up across the field from a veteran like Jamar Taylor, who’s in his fourth year in the program, Jerrell Gavins expected to be tested plenty this season.
More often than not, opponents have regretted it. Against Georgia on Sept. 3, he picked off a Bulldogs pass on a deep ball down the sideline and knocked down another. On Saturday, in a 41-21 win over Tulsa, he had two interceptions, both on deep passes.
“He’s been phenomenal, he’s playing those balls exactly how they need to be played,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “A lot of times DBs panic when that deep ball’s up there, he finds it, finishes the route and goes and catches it like a wide receiver. That’s awesome to see.”
Opposing quarterbacks going deep against him isn’t a surprise for the senior, who transferred to Boise State in 2009 from a junior college in California.
“I would too — I’m what, 5-8, 160 pounds?” Gavins said.
Both of the G.J. Kinne passes Gavins picked off Saturday covered 40 yards, but wound up in Gavins’ hands. His cornerback spot is the one that tends to see the most deep passes, playing on the side with the most real estate.
“I’m a little guy, but I can jump pretty high,” said Gavins, who had three tackles and broke up another pass Saturday. “… You’re stuck on an island the whole game. You’re going to get a bunch of deep routes.”
Now in his third year, Gavins said the game has slowed down quite a bit for him, and he said that he cracked down on his film study in the offseason — he examined what predecessors Kyle Wilson and Brandyn Thompson did wrong, as rare as that may have been.
Gavins played receiver in high school in Florida, another aid in his ascent to ball-hawk status.
“He has some good hands for a DB,” quarterback Kellen Moore said.
With three interceptions this season, one against an SEC team while playing in front of his mother for the first time, and two in the same game, there is another big impact Gavins wants to make — get into the end zone.
“Definitely, that’s the next step — I always try to get better,” he said.