The dark horses of Boise State football: five players that can fill Khalil Shakir’s role this season

Broncos rush the field at the BSU vs. UTEP home opener game, 2021 season.
Photo by Corissa Campbell | The Arbiter

The Boise State Broncos are looking to fill a key leadership role after losing one of their biggest playmakers to the 2022 NFL Draft. 

Since the departure of wide receiver Khalil Shakir, who is now playing in New York for the Buffalo Bills, Boise State football has its eyes wandering around for a new star for the team.

Shakir led the Broncos in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns during the 2021 season. He was also voted to the All-Mountain West First Team in 2020 and 2021. 

Not only did Shakir perform on the field, but also off the field with three Academic All-Mountain West selections in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

With the season set to start on Sept. 3 against Oregon State, there are a few notable players that are on track to take over that key role.

No.1 Stefan Cobbs

Redshirt senior receiver Stefan Cobbs is one player that media outlets are saying to look out for this season. 

There are high expectations for Cobbs’ productivity, especially in leadership positions, as he enters this year with the Broncos. 

Cobbs was the second-most receiving player with 421 yards and had the second-most touchdown receptions last year behind Shakir. 

His performance on the field last season landed him on the watchlist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award and the Paul Hornung Award. 

The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award is given annually to the top offensive player in Division I football and the Paul Hornung Award recognizes the most versatile and high-level performer in college football. 

With all this garnered attention, there are high expectations for him.

No. 2 JL Skinner

Entering his senior year, safety JL Skinner will be a key defensive player for the Broncos this year. 

Skinner started all 12 games last season and led the Broncos with 92 tackles, 66 solo tackles and three fumble recoveries. 

Skinner established his dominance and made a name for himself in the college football realm last season after a highlight clip of him performing a hit stick tackle on an Oklahoma State receiver went viral. 

Skinner has been appointed to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List and the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List.

Skinner is an exciting player to watch on the field and is projected to have tremendous potential for the 2022 season with the Broncos.

No. 3 Scott Matlock

Redshirt senior Scott Matlock has been a prominent defensive tackle for the Broncos during the past two seasons and has a trajectory to have an even better 2022 season. 

Matlock started all 12 games in the 2021 season and registered a team-leading 8.5 tackles for loss, including seven sacks. He also led the team in 29 solo tackles and 41 tackles total. 

Matlock has also been placed on the Bednarik Award Watch List as well as the Outland Trophy Watch List.

This Homedale, Idaho, native is set to be a large contributor to the Broncos’ defense this season. 

No. 4 Seyi Oladiopo

Entering his second season with Boise State, sophomore defensive back Seyi Oladipo has proved himself to be a young and vital piece to the Bronco defense by providing heaps of energy on and off the field.

Last season, Oladipo appeared in all 12 games. During his time on the field, he registered two interceptions and four pass breakups. He was also voted Mountain West Freshman of the Week on Sept. 13, 2021.

Oladipo is likely to improve his game this season, so fans should keep an eager eye on him.

No. 5 Demitri Washington

As a redshirt senior, Demitri Washington is a powerhouse on the defensive end. 

This versatile, athletic and agile 6-foot-3 edge from Solana Beach, California, is a force to be reckoned with. Last year, Washington racked up 41 tackles, 20 of which were solo tackles, an interception and a recovered fumble. 

Washington started in all 12 games last season and also was a standout in his freshman year as well. 

Appearing in all 14 games during his freshman season in 2019, having 32 tackles and a recovered fumble, Washington was destined to be successful as a Bronco.

What comes next?

With notable success on the field in recent years, these players have been quite the standout among Broncos. 

Regardless of whether they can completely step into Shakir’s role from last season, each of these players will add leadership and competition to the team.

As the season folds out, keep an eye on the progress and improvements of each of these Broncos and other team members.

With big shoes to fill, each of these players will have to use their diverse skills and unique talents to bring the Boise State Broncos to victory this 2022 season. Are they up to the challenge?

Broncos rush the field at the BSU vs. UTEP home opener game, 2021 season.
[The Boise State football team rushes onto the Blue Turf.]
Photo by Corissa Campbell | The Arbiter

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