For your consideration: Tyler Shoemaker
When we posted the the initial survey findings on the Bronco Legends, we gave people an option to state their most underrated player. There was a conspicuous omission from that list that needs to be rectified.
Tyler Shoemaker played receiver for all four years of the Kellen era, but didn’t really explode until his senior season. Going into that year, a common fan fear was that we weren’t going to be able to replace the production of Titus Young and Austin Pettis. Chris Peterson switched the passing scheme up a bit in 2011, focusing more on short timing throws, utilizing a deep tight end corps, and spreading the ball around rather than relying on one or two star receivers. Shoemaker was the only returning deep threat, and he was mostly utilized as a mid range possession receiver in his earlier seasons. He needed to make a leap in order for the whole thing to function at the same level as the previous two years.
His statistics, at first glance, don’t appear to indicate an iconic career. You won’t see him in the top 10 lists for career receptions or receiving yards. He never broke a thousand yards receiving in a season, and since his moment was immediately after Pettis and Young and immediately before Matt Miller and Thomas Sperbeck, it’s easy to lose him in the shuffle 8 years on. But let us not forget his magical senior season, where he had 16 receiving touchdowns, a record to this day. The offense in 2011 was a juggernaut that papered over a less dominant defense than the previous year. He was arguably the reason it worked so well. His elite route running allowed Kellen’s offense to run like the Swiss watch it was, as so much of the passing game was spacing defenses and scheming guys open. He took the attention away from a budding Miller, allowing him to develop into a legend himself, and stretched the defense to give Doug Martin his best season on the Blue.
Beyond statistics, Shoemaker exemplifies the unique Boise State Football culture as well as anyone to play on the Blue. He walked on as an undersized freshman after playing high school football down the street in Meridian (a top 5 Idaho born Bronco of the modern era, see below), toiled in anonymity as an underclassman for a year and a half of glory. I saw every home game of Shoemaker’s career live, and I remember he always seemed to be open over the middle on a big third and long. He was versatile in the red zone, running everything from a quick slant to a corner fade. He could also throw a gnarly block for Martin or DJ Harper.
Tyler Shoemaker was a true Bronco legend that we should not forget.
@ Colorado State (2011)
For a career that was mostly populated with blowouts (thanks Kellen), it is fitting that Shoemaker’s biggest career statistical achievement was a 180 yard, 2 touchdown performance against a Rams team in disarray. Shoemaker received more than half of Kellen’s passing yards that game en route to one of the biggest blowouts of the season. He also caught two (!) different 50+ yard touchdowns. Even better, this was the first conference game of the Mountain West era, officially putting the MWC old guard on notice.
21 yard TD catch vs. Oregon State (2010)
The Oregon State game in 2010 was, in many ways, the absolute peak of the Boise State football program (so far). College Gameday came to the Blue to see the Broncos tested against a ranked Pac 12 team with BCS ramifications for both programs. Even though we were clearly the better team, Oregon State came to play and made it interesting in the third quarter with a Jacquizz Rodgers rushing touchdown. Less than 3 minutes later, Shoemaker answered back with beautiful post route over the middle to put the game away (give or take a Titus fumble). I was at that game, and it was the absolute loudest I had ever heard it.
@ Georgia (2011)
The opening game of Shoemaker’s senior season was one of the most satisfying games of the Kellen era. Even after winning two Fiesta Bowls and having quite a few Power 5 wins under our belt, the Broncos had never beat an SEC team. The last time we played Georgia, 6 years prior, we got absolutely outclassed. This game was a complete reversal. Shoemaker only had 57 yards receiving on 5 catches, but he caught one of Kellen’s 3 touchdowns on the exact play (red zone play action quick slant) that was always drawn up for Pettis in previous years. That showed us fans that it would be business as usual on offense for the Broncos.
Bonus ‘Tent: Top Seven Idaho born Broncos in the modern era
- Brock Forsey (Meridian, ID)
2. Shea McClellin (Born in Caldwell, ID; played in Marsing, ID)
3. Leighton Vander Esch (Riggins, ID) (Don’t @ me)
4. Tyler Shoemaker (Meridian, ID)
5. Mitch Burroughs (Meridian, ID)
6. Korey Hall (Mountain Home, ID)
7. Matt Paradis (Council, ID)