Austin Pettis is ready for the spotlight.
Boise State lost four of its top five receivers from last year, including go-to pass catcher Jeremy Childs, who left school after his junior season for the NFL.
Pettis, who was second on the team with 49 catches, is the most established wide receiver returning. He is the veteran in a group that includes junior Titus Young (returning from suspension), sophomore Tyler Shoemaker (seven catches last season) and freshmen Chris Potter and Mitch Burroughs.
Pettis doesn’t have a goal in mind for catches this season, but he does have a clear purpose.
“It’s really just being that go-to guy, making a lot of big plays and helping us win ballgames,” Pettis said. “Coaches want me to be one of those veteran leaders for the offense, too, so that’s what I’m trying to develop into.”
Wide receivers coach Brent Pease is confident Pettis can be that No. 1 guy.
“I hope he sees it that way. He’s got to be that guy. He’s been very consistent his whole career here,” Pease said. “He’s got great abilities on how he catches the ball, his speed has gotten better, he’s very smart. He competes. He can be that guy, no doubt about it.”
The Broncos lost not only Childs (72 catches last year), but Vinny Perretta (36 catches) and Julian Hawkins (26 catches) from last year’s receiving corps. Running back Ian Johnson also played a big part in the pass game last year, catching 22 balls. That leaves a lot of opportunities for others.
Pettis said he added some weight in the off-season and “definitely got faster.”
For more on the Broncos’ wide receiver situation, see my column in Sunday’s Idaho Statesman.
• The Oregonian's Oregon beat writer John Hunt was in Boise for the first day of fall practice. Here is what Hunt had to say.
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