By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Boise State junior Jake Broyles is right back where he was a year ago — fighting for a starting job on the Broncos’ offensive line.
He won the job at right guard last year but injured the big toe on his left foot in the third game of the year. He missed the rest of the season and eased back into action in spring ball.
He’s 100 percent now and competing with senior Michael Ames, junior Spencer Gerke and senior Brenel Myers — all of whom have starting experience — for a spot on the line.
“It’s awesome,” Broyles said. “We’re all huge competitors. We all want to be out there. We know at the end of the day the best guy’s going to get the job.”
Broyles was surprised to learn that his injury required such an extensive rehab. He figured a toe wouldn’t be that bad.
“It just happens, and (the season) is gone like that,” he said. “It’s a little hard to deal with it. You realize you have a couple years left and you still have teammates that need your support.”
He tried to use the time wisely. He improved his upper-body strength, worked his healthy leg and evaluated his own game.
“Mostly my footwork needs to be a little more precise,” he said.
He also is drawing motivation from the setback.
“It puts everything in perspective of how this is what you wanted to do ever since you can remember,” Broyles said. “It gives you a little bit more motivation that you want to be out there and stay healthy.”
Senior defensive tackle Mike Atkinson got after the quarterback during Sunday’s veteran practice. He was in on two sacks and forced a fumble. Linebacker Dustin Kamper also forced a fumble.
“Coaches are really emphasizing that we need to get some turnovers,” Atkinson said. “They want three a day. Yesterday, we got none. We’re really grinding to get some out there.”
Senior wide receiver Mitch Burroughs made several nice plays in the practice.
True freshman wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes (5-foot-7, 160 pounds) generated a buzz among the veterans watching the afternoon newcomers practice with two big plays, including one on which he juked a defender after a short catch and took off down the sideline. On National Signing Day, coach Chris Petersen said: “The smallest guy on our roster might be the guy that excites everybody the most. I don’t like to put pressure on any guys, but coming in we haven’t had many guys who have made the plays he can make in high school.”
Redshirt freshman tight end Holden Huff was Petersen’s camper of the day after making several catches. “Holden is making plays for us out there, and we like playmakers,” Petersen told Broncosports.com.
The Broncos add shoulder pads for Monday’s practice. They’ll be in full pads for the first time Wednesday.