Boise State return man Avery Williams went from a walk-on to an indispensable force for the Broncos. In 2019, he was voted the Mountain West Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise after notching weekly honors five times during his career. He also set the NCAA all-time record for punt and kickoff return touchdowns (nine).
But that’s not all…
Williams can make plays at cornerback. For his career, he had 152 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, four interceptions and 22 pass breakups. At cornerback, he is quick-footed and can mirror opposing receivers. How does he do it as a return man? The Pasadena, California native possesses the ability to dart, slide and break tackles on a regular basis. The former high school running back impresses on film with his balance.
For a full scouting report on Williams, purchase Corey Chavous’ 2021 NFL Draft Guide this spring.
Two high-flying offenses met in Stillwater on Saturday. However, Oklahoma State was victorious against Boise State, 44-21, because of its work in the trenches. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
94 Jordan Brailford (6’3 250) Oklahoma State DE- Junior
Brailford didn’t have to utilize any of his pass rushing moves to tally two sacks against Boise State. Brailford was able to get to the quarterback using his quickness off the line. The junior defensive end showed an ability to play with his hand in the dirt and standing up. He was the first to the football on multiple occasions during the game. However on one possession, he didn’t cash in, missing a tackle because he went too high on Boise State running back Alexander Mattison (5’11, 211). Brailford finished last season with five sacks and through three games this season, he already has four. The Cowboys as a whole have 16 on the season. As NFL teams continue to prioritize situational pass rushers, Brailford has shown scouts early on that his name should be thrown into the mix.
4 Brett Rypien (6’2 202) Boise State QB-Senior
A quarterback that is going under the radar is Brett Rypien, the current active leader in passing yards in the FBS. At 6’2, 202 pounds, the senior has a light frame but he doesn’t lack toughness. Despite, being sacked seven times and taking over 10 hits, he kept his composure by not throwing an interception. Rypien impressed with his ability to hold linebackers and safeties with his eyes. The quarterback hit tight end John Bates (6’6, 247) over the middle for a first down conversion after holding Oklahoma State’s linebacker with his eyes. Rypien may not have the physical tools to “wow” scouts in the NFL, but he does check the box when it comes to the fundamentals of the position: using his eyes, working through his progressions and getting his team into the right play. For the season, Rypien has thrown 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Going forward, it would be beneficial for Rypien to try and preserve his body a little more if possible by getting rid of the ball quicker and settling for throw aways as opposed to sacks. It’s worth noting, the Broncos will probably not play a team as strong along the defensive line as they did against the Cowboys for the rest of the regular season.
Oklahoma State’s work in the trenches
The Cowboys and the Broncos both play a high volume passing brand of football. Oklahoma State was more effective on offense and on defense because of the exemplary work along both lines. Rypien took seven sacks whereas Oklahoma State’s quarterback Taylor Cornelius (6’6, 232) was sacked three times. The Cowboys also rushed for 176 yards on 38 carries while the Broncos rushed for 38 yards on 31 carries. On defense, the Cowboys had four different players record a sack. In a modern game that is dominated by receivers and quarterbacks hogging the headlines, Oklahoma State’s offensive line and defense line just went out and handled business.
Over the course of his first four seasons, head coach Bryan Harsin has cemented Boise State as one of the premiere programs on the West Coast and in the nation. Last season, the Broncos finished 11-3 overall and 7-1 in the Mountain West. This season, the Broncos will be led by a senior quarterback on offense and a talented secondary and defensive line on the other side of the ball. Senior cornerback Tyler Horton (5’11, 190) and junior safety Kekoa Nawahine (6’2, 207) are the undisputed playmakers in the secondary.
Nawahine finished last season with three interceptions and six pass deflections while Horton had 11 pass deflections to go along with two picks. Both players have played more than 25 games apiece and bring a wealth of experience to the Broncos defense which projects to be one of -if not the best- in the Mountain West. Along the front seven, senior defensive tackle David Moa and sophomore Curtis Weaver (6’3, 256) combine to stop the run and get after the quarterback. Moa is the run-stuffer and Weaver, who finished with 11 sacks as a freshman, is the pass rusher. On offense, senior quarterback Brett Rypien (6’2, 202), the nephew of former Redskins Super Bowl-winning quarterback Mark Rypien, will be asked to continue his steady play.
Rypien, a three-year starter, has amassed 9,876 passing yards, 60 touchdowns and 22 interceptions while completing 62 percent of his passes. Harsin once again has a team capable of winning 10-plus games and can even dream of a darkhorse chance at the College Football Playoff if his team goes undefeated, thanks to a tough non-conference schedule.
Troy’s Player to watch
55 David Moa 6’3 275 DL-Senior
Moa is the prototypical run-stuffer and the anchor of the Broncos defense. The senior defensive tackle opens lanes for the other members of the front seven to make plays. Last season, Moa finished with two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss while being named a second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection. He hopes to return to his junior year form after an up-and-down junior campaign (https://www.idahostatesman.com/sports/college/mountain-west/boise-state-university/boise-state-football/article216096480.html). In 2016, he recorded 8.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. Look for Moa to continue making waves in the Mountain West and, with another strong season, he could get looks from the NFL.
Game of the season
September 29th vs. Wyoming
The Broncos have a Week 3 matchup on the road against Oklahoma State, which figures to be their most challenging non- conference game. However, two weeks later against Wyoming in Laramie, they will play the Cowboys in a game that will have conference championship implications. Last season, the Broncos defeated Wyoming, 24-14. The Cowboys are projected to be the Broncos stiffest competition in the Mountain West mountain division. Wyoming lost star quarterback Josh Allen (2018 NFL Draft, 1st Round, 7th overall, Buffalo Bills) but return several defensive playmakers and will be poised to test Boise State at home.
DraftNasty’s Prospect Watch
8 Jabril Frazier 6’4 243 OLB-Senior
Frazier often has been employed at the outside linebacker/STUD position for the Broncos. He can put his hand in the dirt or rush from a two-point stance. An athletic defender with range, he hasn’t yet established himself as a consistent force setting the edge versus offensive tackles. In addition, his pass rush variety when working from either position leaves room for improvement. Aside from putting on added weight, he needs to finish on the quarterback with more regularity to truly get looks from NFL scouts as a potential 30-front Rush OLB prospect.
Boise State will handle road contests against Troy and Wyoming but fall to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Other than a Week 3 loss against OSU, Draftnasty’s Troy Jefferson is predicting an 11-win season and a Mountain West Conference championship.