This Boise product fought to get on field for Broncos. Now he’s growing as a receiver

It’s not often that a redshirt senior experiences a first in college football, but that’s exactly the position Boise State wide receiver Austin Bolt finds himself in this year.

This is the first time in his four seasons at Boise State that Bolt isn’t recovering from an injury or transitioning to a new position during spring practice.

The former Gatorade Idaho Player of the Year, who played quarterback and wide receiver at Borah High in Boise, began his college career as a tight end. He also spent time at defensive end before settling in at wide receiver in 2022. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken leg in the season opener at Oregon State.

Bolt is healthy this year, and he’s been active for all eight of the Broncos’ spring practices. He said Thursday that he isn’t taking a moment for granted after such a long journey to even get on the field regularly.

“It’s a blessing to be back out there,” he said. “It was definitely a weight off my shoulders to finally catch a couple balls on The Blue, but this is just another opportunity for me to get better at being a receiver.”

He went through quite an ordeal to get on the field last year. After missing spring practice and summer workouts, he felt like he was getting close to being healthy during fall camp, but his leg kept swelling after he ran, which further delayed his season debut.

Bolt finally got on the field seven weeks into the season in the Broncos’ loss at Colorado State. He appeared in eight games, started five and finished the season with six catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was really impressive seeing him put in the work to get back and overcome setbacks,” wide receivers coach Matt Miller said. “He’s an important member of this team, and we need him at his best if we’re going to be at ours.”

Bolt gave fans a glimpse of what he can do. One week after leading receiver Eric McAlister left the team, Bolt and fellow receiver Prince Strachan combined to catch five balls for 185 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-14 win over New Mexico. Bolt finished the game with two catches for 57 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown grab.

Boise State wide receiver Austin Bolt hauls in a 42-yard touchdown pass in the Broncos’ win over New Mexico last season.
Boise State wide receiver Austin Bolt hauls in a 42-yard touchdown pass in the Broncos’ win over New Mexico last season.

He said Thursday that he expects himself and Strachan to be the Broncos’ top deep threats again this year. Bolt also said he’s isn’t going to be a one-trick pony. After more than a year of focusing solely on wide receiver, he said he feels more like a complete player than he has at any other point in his career.

“The game is slowing down a lot for me, and I’m able to read coverages a lot better,” Bolt said. “I’m feel like I’m a very physical receiver in the running game. I like hitting people, and I’m a bigger receiver who can make contested catches.”

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Bolt (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and Strachan are part of a deep group in the receiver room this year. Boise State signed transfers Chris Marshall and Cam Camper, both of whom come with impressive pedigrees. Marshall was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and Camper caught 63 passes for 854 yards and three touchdowns the past two seasons at Indiana.

The Broncos also have Latrell Caples back on the field after he missed all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon. He led the team with 51 catches for 549 yards in 2022. Colorado transfer Chase Penry is also healthy after he was slowed by injuries last season.

“He’s a great leader for us,” Bolt said of Caples. “He’s very vocal, and he’s a great player. I hope nobody sleeps on Latrell, but if they do, this fall is going to be a big wake-up for them.”

Bolt could see the additions as a threat to his playing time. Instead, he said he’s embracing the competition.

“Hopefully all of us competing against each other is going to take us all to a higher level and put us in position to make plays in the fall,” he said.

Bolt also said he can learn a thing or two from Marshall and Camper, considering he’s still somewhat new to the position.

“These guys have played a lot of football, and they’re highly ranked,” Bolt said. “As much as I can help teach them the playbook, I can learn routes and stuff from them.”