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Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir (2) carries the ball out of bounds in the red zone during a game against Wyoming on Nov. 12 at Albertsons Stadium.

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Khalil Shakir will have one more game with the Boise State football team.

Following some speculation that the senior wide receiver could opt out of the Arizona Bowl, scheduled for Dec. 31, Shakir put that notion to rest with a two-word Tweet on Tuesday evening.

“I’m Playing,” it read.

The Tweet was in response to a fan, who was talking about a segment on KITK’s Idaho Sports Talk on whether or not Shakir would play in the game or skip it to focus on the NFL Draft. The fan said Shakir should skip the game against Central Michigan and “be selfish for once.”

Apparently, Shakir isn’t taking the advice.

Shakir will enter the Arizona Bowl leading the Broncos with 77 catches for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a first-team All-Mountain West selection for the second straight season.

“He’s probably the best receiver in the country in my opinion,” Boise State wide receiver Davis Koetter said on Wednesday. “That just shows what type of guy he is. This game, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t mean a whole lot. But the fact that he’s willing to go out there, compete and put his body on the line for our team says everything about the type of guy he is.”

Shakir is expected to be a prospect for the draft, which will take place in April. ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper currently has Shakir, who has been invited to play in the Senior Bowl, ranked “10c” among his top wide receivers. He will enter the Arizona Bowl with 208 catches and 20 touchdowns for his Boise State career and ranked fourth all-time in the Boise State record book with 2,878 career receiving yards.

“He really calms your nerves,” Boise State tight end Kurt Rafdal said about playing with Shakir. “Third and long and you see him next to you, you know we’re going to get the first down no matter what, because he gets the job done, always.”

WHIMPEY WON’T PURSUE PRO CAREER

Boise State linebacker Riley Whimpey admits when he came to Boise State, he had dreams of making it to the NFL.

Five years later, though, those plans have changed.

Whimpey said on Tuesday that the Arizona Bowl will be the final game of his football career, as he’ll move on to other aspects of life rather than try to get drafted by an NFL team.

“After being in the program for five years, I’ve talked to my wife and made a personal decision through prayer that I think it would be best for me to move on from the game of football and continue the next stage of life,” the fifth-year senior said. “So that’s the plan as of right now. We’re still trying to figure some things out, but we feel like that will be the best thing for us and our family.”

Whimpey said the decision has a lot to do with concerns about long-term health effects he might encounter were he to continue his career. The linebacker said his body has taken a toll during his five years in Boise. He added that he’s still recovering from a concussion suffered in the regular-season finale against San Diego State.

“Just from a health standpoint, I felt it would be best for my body, for my family and for my wife and I, most important,” Whimpey said.

Whimpey was originally scheduled to play his final season with Boise State in 2020, but jumped at the opportunity to play one more season after the NCAA granted all players an extra year of eligibility.

He’ll enter the game against Central Michigan with 287 career tackles, including 21.5 for a loss and six sacks.

“I wouldn’t say it’s hit me quite yet,” Whimpey said about the reality of being done with football. “I’m just trying to enjoy every opportunity that I have to be with this team and the guys I’ve formed lifelong relationships with. I don’t know when it will hit me.”

BRONCOS EXCITED TO FACE NATION’S LEADING RUSHER

One of the biggest challenges facing the Broncos in the Arizona Bowl will be containing Central Michigan running back Lew Nichols.

The freshman running back leads the nation with 1,710 rushing yards this season and has scored 15 touchdowns.

“I’ve seen a few plays here and there of their offense, they do have a great running back,” Whimpey said. “I think the benefit for us is we’ve faced a lot of great running backs, so I feel like that’s something we’ve been able to improve upon throughout the season, the run game. That’s something we’ll have to be able to contain, their run game.”

Whimpey compared Nichols to Oklahoma State running back Jaylen Warren, saying both are tough running backs who are not afraid to lower their shoulder, also noting similarities to BYU running back Tyler Allgeier.

The Broncos had mixed results facing the other two running backs, as Warren ran for 218 yards against Boise State in a 21-20 win. But in Boise State’s 26-17 win at BYU, Allgeier — who is eighth in the nation with 1,409 rushing yards — was held to 73 yards on the ground.

“He’s got a lot of good qualities as a running back, and that’s why he’s the No. 1 leading rusher right now,” Whimpey said of Nichols. “We definitely have a lot on our hands and we’re excited to attack that challenge.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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