The Idaho Press is counting down the top 20 questions facing the Boise State football team during the 2020 season. Today is question No. 20: Is Austin Bolt going to make an immediate impact?
A year ago it was Hank Bachmeier, George Holani, JL Skinner and Markel Reed. Could Austin Bolt be next?
Every season a small handful of true freshmen come right into the program and make immediate impacts in their first fall on campus. One of the early candidates to do that in 2020 would appear to be Bolt, a tight end that could fill a variety of roles for the Broncos.
Bolt, a Borah High graduate, was named the Idaho Press Sports Stars Boys Overall Athlete of the Year last month after a record-setting senior year in both football and basketball. He earned the top athlete awards for both sports from the Idaho Press, and proved to have little competition when it came to the top athlete in the Treasure Valley.
But his best sport is football, and Boise State beat out several other schools for his services. He accounted for 2,771 total yards and 36 touchdowns as a senior on his way to being named the Idaho Gatorade Football Player of the Year. He rushed for 1,391 yards and 26 touchdowns, while passing for 1,380 yards and 10 touchdowns.
But, initially, the Broncos don’t plan to have him rushing or throwing the ball. He’s slated to start his Boise State career as a tight end, where he could prove to be a nightmare for opposing defenses because of his rare combination of size and athleticism.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Bolt also had 62 tackles and four interceptions on defense while playing safety, including one he returned for a touchdown. The versatile Bolt also scored two touchdowns as a returner.
As a senior last fall, Bolt played quarterback, safety, linebacker, punter, kick returner, punt returner and held for field goals. There’s probably not a position on the field Bolt couldn’t play.
Utah State, UNLV, Idaho State, Montana and Montana State all offered Bolt, and Power 5 schools including Texas Tech, Washington State and Wisconsin were interested when he signed with Boise State in December.
It would seem that Bolt has the talent and size necessary for making the jump to the Division I level. The Broncos lose two key tight ends in Garrett Collingham and Matt Pistone and only one returner — starter John Bates — has caught a pass during their Boise State careers.
“We think we can use him to create mismatches,” said tight ends coach Kent Riddle, who compared Bolt to both Collingham and former pass-catching tight end Jake Roh. “We can maybe use him a little bit different than we’ve used a lot of guys. … He’s a unique talent.”
There appears to be an opportunity for playing time at tight end behind Bates, and Bolt would appear to be the type of player ready to step in and take advantage of it. The fact that he’s a local product makes his potential impact an even bigger storyline moving forward.
Bolt put up crazy numbers at Borah and left with 10 school records, including most touchdowns (63) and total yards (4,915). How quickly will that production translate into playing time at Boise State? It could be as early as this fall.