Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 | 2 a.m.
With his imposing 6-foot-5, 290-pound frame, Jake Broyles sauntered through the Hard Rock Hotel without any signs of limping Thursday afternoon.
These moments have been few and far between over the past two years for the Boise State offensive lineman and Foothill graduate. Broyles has missed the vast majority of his sophomore and junior seasons with injuries.
“It’s been rough, but it’s part of football,” Broyles said. “I was lucky enough not to get hurt the entire time I played from second grade on. It got to me here, and I know it can happen to anybody. I’ve got to stay positive and know I have one year left.”
Broyles hopes Boise State’s contest against Washington in the 2012 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, scheduled to kick off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium, serves as the beginning of a healthy finish of his career.
He’s cleared to play after finally recovering from a high-ankle sprain that nagged him all season. Broyles suffered the injury in practice before the Broncos' second game.
“I’d let it heal, get in there and get it banged up again,” Broyles said.
The situation proved even more frustrating than last season, when Broyles came down with a turf toe injury that required surgery after the third game of the season.
Both ailments followed summers of preparation in which Broyles separated himself in the eyes of the Boise State coaches. Despite not being as heavily recruited as some of his fellow linemen, Broyles won starting jobs both seasons.
He started at guard in 2011 and tackle this year in Boise State’s opener at Michigan State.
“It didn’t come as much of a surprise to me,” Marty Redmond, Broyles’ high school coach at Foothill, said of his quick impact at Boise State. “He’s a big kid with great footwork. I knew he’d get his opportunity. I know he’s just disappointed with how things have turned out.”
Redmond and Broyles have kept in contact. They text each other almost weekly, and Broyles tries to stop by to visit his high school coaches and talk to current Falcons when he can.
“I’ve just told him to stay positive and keep working hard, all that kind of stuff,” Redmond said. “I knew this season was tough on him because it was an injury where he thought he could play through it.”
Those close to Broyles may have realized his disappointment, but he hasn’t felt sorry for himself publicly. In fact, Broyles says the opposite.
He talks about using the experience over the past two years as a positive.
“I just love playing the game, first of all,” Broyles said. “That’s my motivation. But being hurt motivates you even more because you want to come back and prove yourself again.”
With Boise State set to graduate three of its starting offensive linemen, the coaches will have high expectations for Broyles to lead the unit next season.
One of the veterans, senior guard Joe Kellogg, believes he’s more than capable.
“He’s been banged up, but he’ll be out there next season ready to go,” Kellogg said.
Broyles has loved the Broncos winding up in Las Vegas each of the past three years for bowl season but joked “it would be cooler if I wasn’t hurt all the time and got to play.”
He’ll have a slew of friends and family, including Redmond, in the stands once again. And, when the game ends, Broyles will enjoy the shortest commute of all his teammates.
He won’t board a flight back to Boise.
“I live right down the street from Sam Boyd,” Broyles said, “so I just sign a release and go home.”