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Notebook: Broncos lose QB commit Wilson a week before Signing Day

December 14, 2017

LAS VEGAS — Losing a quarterback commit is never easy. Having it happen a week before Signing Day is even worse.

The Boise State football team was dealt an unexpected blow Wednesday afternoon when Zach Wilson of Draper, Utah, announced on Twitter that he was de-committing from the Broncos and reopening his recruitment.

Wilson had been committed to the Broncos since June, and just three days ago posted a photo of coach Bryan Harsin and quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Zak Hill visiting with him and his family at their house.

Boise State was practicing Wednesday in Las Vegas at the time Wilson made the news public with a lengthy note that said in part, ”...sometimes life presents opportunities that need to be considered. Especially when it impacts my family, which is number ONE on my priority list.”

Wilson has seen his stock skyrocket after a strong senior season that included 2,986 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to just eight interceptions, and 752 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

Minnesota, BYU, Iowa and Syracuse have offered the 6-3, 200-pound Wilson scholarships recently, and he also holds offers from a number of Mountain West schools including Fresno State and Nevada.

This is the first year of a new early Signing Period that runs from Dec. 20-22. The traditional signing day will still take place in early February 7, which gives the Broncos time to search for a quarterback should they not land one in the next week.

Boise State likely was already searching for a graduate transfer or junior college quarterback to add to the roster for next season. They likely now will need to add multiple scholarship quarterbacks.

Brett Rypien (senior) and Chase Cord (redshirt freshman) are currently the only scholarship quarterbacks slated for the 2018 roster. Most teams prefer four or five scholarship signal callers.

The Broncos have been hurt in recruiting by the early Dec. 16 bowl game, as well as playing in the Mountain West title game. Boise State coaches lost two valuable weeks of recruiting, and also weren’t able to host visitors to Boise on official visits for key recruiting weekends like this upcoming weekend.

The recruiting calendar goes dead on Sunday, meaning Boise State’s coaches won’t be able to go visit a quarterback recruit prior to next week’s Signing Day unless they leave bowl prep in Las Vegas to do so.

Boise State faced this situation in 2016 when quarterback commit Micah Wilson of Oklahoma changed his commitment to Missouri just two weeks before the February signing day. The Broncos’ ‘plan B’ was Jake Constantine, but he transferred before ever playing a snap.

OREGON ‘AWARE’ OF PAST GAMES AGAINST BOISE STATE: Boise State and Oregon have only played twice before in 2008 and 2009, but Oregon coach Mario Cristobal has made sure his team knows that the Broncos hold a 2-0 series edge.

“They are aware of that,” Cristobal said. “They are aware that this is going to be a tremendous football game and a tremendous battle. We will have to be at our best to be successful in this football game.”

Cristobal and the Ducks have been very complimentary of the Mountain West champions as Saturday’s game nears.

“The first thing that stands out about them is they are a physical football team, very sound and very well coached,” Cristobal said. “They are just a sound, competitive, hard-nosed, tough football team with great football players and they are very well coached.”

Asked what concerned him about the Broncos, Cristobal basically listed something positive about every position on Boise State’s team.

“Disruptive on defense,” Cristobal said. “Very explosive at the nose tackle position, the linebackers run really well, defensive ends are disruptive and are up the field, corners are rangy, safeties make a lot of plays and are good tacklers.

“Offensively, this is a physical group with a lot of shifts and motions, they create confusion, they run the ball downhill. They create a lot of eye wash for you and if you lose your eye discipline they create big plays. They create big plays, they take shots down the field. They have an excellent receiving core, an excellent tight end core. Those guys will hammer you pretty good.

“And special teams wide, they are hard to game plan for. They really are.”

DUCKS RUNNING BACK MIGHT NOT PLAY: Oregon running back Royce Freeman is expected to be a high round draft pick in the NFL Draft and is considering sitting out Saturday’s game to ensure he doesn’t get hurt and damage his NFL stock.

Freeman is Oregon’s all-time leading rusher and No. 6 in NCAA Division-I history with 5,621 yards. He has 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns this season and has rushed for at least 120 yards in each of the past six games.

Cristobal said Wednesday that he planned to have “more extensive discussions” with Freeman in the near future about the situation.

“I don’t have an update yet,” Cristobal said. “But when I do get an update I’ll let you know.”

Left tackle Tyrell Crosby also is considering sitting out Saturday’s game, but both he and Freeman took part in Wednesday’s practice.