BSU Football spring practice

Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) runs through a drill during early morning football practice at the Caven-Williams Sports Complex on March 1.

The Idaho Press is counting down the top 20 questions facing the Boise State football team heading into the 2019 season. The next entry in our series is question No. 16: Which true freshmen could make immediate impacts?

Boise State had just three true freshmen earn significant playing time last season in running back Andrew Van Buren, wide receiver Khalil Shakir and defensive lineman Scale Igiehon.

The list probably won’t be much bigger again in 2019.

While several true freshmen will probably see some action due to a new rule that allows them to play in up to four games and still preserve their redshirt year, only a handful will likely play beyond that and make big contributions throughout the season.

Van Buren was the team’s second-leading rusher, rushing 34 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Shakir had 19 touches for 240 yards as both a runner and receiver and had two touchdowns. And Igiegon, the massive 6-foot-2, 300-pound nose tackle, had 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks.

Who are the candidates to make similar contributions as true freshman this fall? Let’s take a look:

Hank Bachmeier: The quarterback arrived in January and participated in spring practices, so he has a leg up on a typical true freshman. According to 247Sports, Bachmeier was a four-star prospect and ranked as the highest quarterback ever signed by Boise State or any school in Mountain West history. He’s competing for the starting quarterback spot alongside senior Jaylon Henderson and Chase Cord. If Cord is healthy (recovering from ACL injury), the Broncos would likely prefer to start Cord and have the senior Henderson be the backup. That way Bachmeier could play in up to four games, but still save the year. But if Bachmeier is the best option — and it’s certainly possible that he will be — then he could follow in Brett Rypien’s footsteps as the second straight quarterback for the Broncos to start as a true freshman.

George Holani: It’s typically easier for a skill position player to see action as a true freshman, and the Broncos have playing time available at running back. Holani is a four-star recruit that comes in with plenty of hype, like Bachmeier, after putting up big numbers in high school. According to 247Sports, he “is a combination of speed and power, wrapped in a 6-foot, 195-pound package. He was a battering ram who first ran over people, and then ran by them into the end zone.” Boise State has played true freshman running backs in recent years — Jeremy McNichols and Alexander Mattison to name two — and they have a wide open competition in the backfield heading into the year. Holani looks to be good enough to earn regular carries.

Casey Kline: The STUD/outside linebacker was ranked as a top-300 national recruit from 247Sports and had scholarship offers from several Pac-12 schools when he signed with the Broncos. His scouting review on 247Sports said he’s “exceptionally athletic for the outside linebacker position. He has the speed and the field smarts that are only augmented by his length ... should come in and compete for playing time almost immediately.” The 6-4 Kline was seen as a major get for the Broncos, and with five linebackers and a STUD gone from the roster, he should have a chance to get significant playing time.

Gavin Wale: It’s fairly rare for Boise State to use a scholarship on a high school specialist, but that’s what the Broncos did with Wale. The kicker-punter combo was rated as the No. 21 punter in the nation by 247Sports. He was named all-state as a senior at Coronado High School in Nevada, and is the cousin of former Boise State punter Sean Wale. He will compete with Joel Velazquez, who can kick and punt, and kicker transfer Eric Sachse from Trinity College in Connecticut. The Broncos had their worst statistical years in both field goal kicking and punting in more than a decade, and both kicker Haden Hoggarth and punter Sean Wale graduated. Both spots are open, and Wale would seem to at least have a shot — probably at punter — to win the job right away.

Countdown to Camp Questions

No. 16: Which true freshmen could make immediate impacts?

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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