BOISE — Shane and Gail Hedrick have made the trip from Independence, Ore., to see their son Grant play numerous times at Bronco Stadium and on the road the past few years.
This past weekend may have been their best trip yet.
After seeing Grant see limited action the past three years, they watched from the stands as the junior subbed in for injured quarterback Joe Southwick to lead the Broncos to a 34-17 win over rival Nevada.
The former Oregon high school player of the year completed 18-of-21 passes for 150 yards and added eight rushes for 115 yards and two touchdowns in his first significant action since arriving on campus in 2010. His only blemish was an interception on a tipped pass on his first drive of the night.
“You’re pinching yourself in the stands as a parent going, ‘Is this really happening?’” Shane Hedrick said Sunday.
Southwick suffered a broken ankle on the Broncos’ first offensive play from scrimmage when he was tackled awkwardly from behind near the Boise State sideline. He remained on the ground for several seconds as Hedrick threw off the baseball cap, grabbed his helmet and hurried onto the field.
The Broncos fell behind 10-0 early and trailed 17-7 at the half before outscoring Nevada 27-0 in the second half to pick up a big Mountain West Conference win and improve to 5-2 overall.
And Hedrick’s performance was a big reason why. He busted a 49-yard run in the second quarter that led to Boise State’s first touchdown and continued to get better as the game went on.
“To see a young man go down like Joe, it’s his senior year and the team was playing better — that was just gut-wrenching,” Shane Hedrick said. “But on the other hand, somebody has to go in and this happened to be my son. I was very pleased with the progressions he took from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, and I thought as the game went on he got more comfortable and utilized the talents around him and spread the ball out to those guys that can make plays. He just did a nice job of managing the offense.”
Shane Hedrick knows more about his son’s ability on the football field than anyone else. He served as his head coach at Central High, where Grant was a three-year varsity starter and had two seasons where he passed for at least 2,500 yards and rushed for 1,200 yards.
Grant was named The Oregonian’s 4A Player of the Year in 2009 after a senior season in which he passed for 2,500 yards and 34 touchdowns while also rushing for another 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. He had 3,100 passing yards and 41 passing touchdowns as a junior while also rushing for 1,200 yards and 13 more scores.
According to Scout.com, Hedrick had interest from Oregon, Oregon State and Washington during his recruitment and also had offers from Air Force and Portland State. But he committed to Boise State during the summer between his junior and senior years of high school and never waivered.
But Hedrick hasn’t found the success he probably envisioned himself having at Boise State, at least until now. He’s waited patiently as the backup quarterback since arriving on campus as a freshman in 2010 and had 26 total pass attempts in his Bronco career prior to entering on the second play of the game Saturday night.
With Boise State clinging to a 20-17 lead, Hedrick had a 20-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and a 14-yard touchdown midway through the fourth to put the game out of reach. He became the first Boise State quarterback to rush for at least 100 yards in a game since 2004.
Not bad for a guy who’s spent most of his four-year career at Boise State on the bench.
“From a parental standpoint it’s very exciting,” Shane Hedrick said. “You realize the amount of effort a Division I athlete puts in and the work that goes on, and being a coach — and I played college ball, too — I know the sacrifices you make. And (for) a quarterback, there’s an awful lot that goes into it, and when it becomes the time for you to step up, there’s a great amount of expectations.
“We were all very, very excited, No. 1 to come away with the victory and No. 2 to see our son, but of course we were broken-hearted to know that Joe had broken his ankle and may not play again this year.”
The Hedrick’s make the one-hour flight from Portland to Boise for all Saturday home games and also travel to any Saturday away games. Shane remains the head coach at Central High — where he is also the athletic director — and is forced to tape the games that Boise State plays on Friday nights.
That will be the case Friday when Hedrick makes his first collegiate start as the Broncos head to Provo, Utah, for an ESPN matchup with BYU.
“I went home and set the recorder this morning when we got back from Boise,” Shane Hedrick said. “I hope he’s ready. Grant said this is four years he’s been preparing to step into this role, and I think there’s a great supporting cast around him, so it’s not like he’s carrying the whole load by himself.
“You have an unbelievable offensive line there and some great running backs and some phenomenal receivers, so he just has to make sure he plays within himself and helps manage those very good athletes around him.”