Need players to watch at Boise State’s spring game on The Blue? Here’s a baker’s dozen

The Boise State football team will wrap up practice Saturday with its annual spring game at Albertsons Stadium.

The Broncos will take the field for warmups and individual drills at 1:30 p.m. The game, which counts as Boise State’s 15th and final spring practice, will begin at 2:30 p.m. The first half will not feature live tackling, head coach Spencer Danielson said, but the second half will.

Parking lots around Albertsons Stadium will open at 11 a.m. The Lincoln Garage will also be available. Gates open at 12:30 p.m., with entrances 2 and 3 on the southeast and southwest corners of Albertsons Stadium accessible. Admission is free.

The first 750 fans through the gates will receive T-shirts featuring running back Ashton Jeanty and the “HEI2MAN’ logo Boise State created for his Heisman Trophy campaign. Jeanty was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year last season after racking up 1,347 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns. Free posters will also be available at the gate. Some will feature Jeanty and his logo; others will feature the Broncos’ 2024 schedule.

Boise State players will be available to sign autographs on The Blue at the conclusion of the game. Here’s a look at 13 players to keep an eye on Saturday.


QB Malachi NelsonThe former USC quarterback struggled early this spring as he was trying to absorb a new playbook, but he has come on the past couple of weeks and looked like a quarterback who threw 105 touchdown passes in high school. Nelson has excelled at throwing the deep ball, and he has a chance to put himself ahead of his competition in the race to win the starting job with a strong performance. His top competitor, Maddux Madsen, is still recovering from knee surgery and isn’t likely to play Saturday.

WR Austin Bolt — It took Bolt more than a year to recover from a broken leg he suffered in the 2022 season opener. He was one of the Broncos’ top deep threats when he got on the field last season, and that has continued this spring. Bolt caught touchdown passes in both of the team’s scrimmages, and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said Tuesday that the former Borah star has had the best spring of any wide receiver on the team.

Junior college transfer and former five-star recruit Chris Marshall is another receiver to keep an eye on. He’s been dealing with a nagging injury this spring, but he was at practice this week and could see some snaps in the spring game.

RB Jambres Dubar — Dubar was impressive as the Broncos’ No. 3 running back last season. He’ll move into the No. 2 spot with George Holani gone. Dubar, a 6-foot, 211-pound sophomore, is powerful and explosive with the ball in his hands. He averaged 3.3 yards a carry in the Broncos’ second scrimmage, and he’ll likely shoulder a heavy workload Saturday. Jeanty will probably play just the first half as the coaching staff continues limiting the amount of hits he takes.

RB Sire Gaines — Much like Jeanty when he showed up as a freshman, Gaines doesn’t look as if he’s just beginning his college career. His 208-pound frame is chiseled, and he runs with power and confidence. He’s also incredibly elusive, and he’ll almost certainly get on the field this season if he continues to turn heads the way he has this spring. Gaines enrolled early and has been on campus since January. He averaged 4.2 yards a carry in the Broncos’ second scrimmage.

TE Matt WagnerRedshirt junior Matt Lauter is the favorite to sit atop the depth chart at tight end. His acrobatic catches and ability to pick up yards after the catch have made him impressive this spring, Koetter said. Wagner has turned plenty of heads, too. Like Lauter, the redshirt freshman has shown an ability to stretch defenses vertically and come down with difficult passes in the end zone. He caught a TD in the Broncos’ first scrimmage.

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CB Jeremiah Earby — The transfer from Cal, who has been on campus since January, already claimed his spot as one of the Broncos’ top two cornerbacks. He has more than five interceptions to his credit this spring, two of which came in the team’s second scrimmage. If he continues playing that way, Earby and last season’s interception leader, A’Marion McCoy, will be the Broncos’ starting cornerbacks.

S Ty BenefieldBenefield broke into the starting lineup last season as a freshman, and he hasn’t slowed down. The 6-2, 200-pounder has the length to be disruptive in the passing game and covers enough ground to help against the run. The focus for the safeties and nickels this spring has been on learning multiple positions, safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Tyler Stockton said. Benefield and senior Rodney Robinson have both been working at boundary safety. It will be interesting to see which one gets more snaps on Saturday.

LB Jake Ripp — The redshirt sophomore has been one of the Broncos’ most impressive linebackers this spring, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said. He’s running to the ball, delivering big hits and forcing turnovers. Ripp led the Broncos with six tackles and added a sack in their second scrimmage. Middle linebacker Andrew Simpson and weakside linebacker Marco Notrianni are the likely starters, but Ripp has put himself in great position to earn a role.

Chase Martin is another young linebacker to keep an eye on. He was one of the Broncos’ top special teams players last season and has seen a lot of snaps at both linebacker positions this spring.

DT Michael Madrie — The Broncos have solid depth on the interior of the defensive line with Herbert Gums, Sheldon Newton, Braxton Fely and Michael Callahan all back. More bodies are always needed in such a physically demanding position, though, and Madrie looks like the next man up. The 6-3, 270-pound redshirt freshman has been explosive and disruptive this spring, Chinander said.

DE Tavion Woodard — Woodard is a player the Broncos’ hope can provide some pressure on opposing quarterbacks playing opposite last season’s sack leader, Ahmed Hassanein. Woodard transferred in this spring from Ball State, where he posted 10.5 sacks in 20 career starts. The 6-4, 260-pound graduate student has been strong against the run and kept quarterbacks on their toes, Gums said.

Jayden Virgin-Morgan is a young pass rusher to watch Saturday. He played in 14 games and made six starts last season. He didn’t record a sack, but he recovered two fumbles.