Where are they now: Boise State athletes who have gone pro

Shakir, Boise State football
Corissa Campbell | The Arbiter

Boise State University is no stranger to collegiate athletic success. With multiple athletes going pro, fans might wonder where their favorites have ended up. 

The mission statement of the Boise State athletic department says it best: 

“We believe that Boise State Athletics connects our community, propels our university to greater heights, and changes the lives of student-athletes as they prepare to change the world. We believe in BLUE.” 

For many Boise State Broncos, their time on the field has translated to a professional career. 

Leighton Vander Esch (NFL/Dallas Cowboys)

During his three years at Boise State, Idaho native Leighton Vander Esch had 188 tackles, three interceptions and four forced fumbles.

In 2017, Vander Esch was nominated Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, Mountain West Championship Game Defensive MVP and was a part of the All-Mountain West First Team. 

Vander Esch is now an American football linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. He was drafted 19th overall by the Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Vander Esch has made 46 regular season starts for the Cowboys at inside linebacker. A Pro Bowler in 2018, Vander Esch has recorded 349 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 12 passes defensed during his first four seasons with the Cowboys.

Vander Esch recently signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cowboys for the 2022 season. 

Khalil Shakir (NFL/Buffalo Bills)

On the heels of his first NFL touchdown, Boise State alumni Khalil Shakir was a fan favorite during his tenure as a Bronco. 

Shakir had an impressive four years as Boise State’s wide receiver. 

Shakir concluded his career on The Blue with 2,878 receiving yards, 414 rushing yards, 24 touchdowns as well as two All-Mountain West First Team selections in his 2020 and 2021 seasons. 

The Buffalo Bills selected Shakir in the fifth round, 148th overall, of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Shakir signed his first ever NFL rookie contract for four years and $4 million. 

Allison “Allie” Ostrander (Professional Runner) 

Allison Ostrander from Alaska is an American long-distance runner. 

Ostrander won the NCAA Division I steeplechase championship in 2017, 2018 and 2019 during her time at Boise State University.

In 2019, Ostrander announced her plans to forgo her final season of NCAA eligibility and began running professionally.

Since becoming pro, Ostrander has won the Millrose games in New York City, came up fourth in the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships and placed eighth in the 2020 United States Olympic Trials. 

Along with being a professional runner, Ostrander has become a mental health advocate, helping young women understand the issues surrounding mental health and body image. 

Graham DeLaet (PGA)

Before reaching the top 40 of the Official World Golf Rankings, competing in the Olympics and playing on the Presidents Cup and World Cup Teams, Graham DeLaet was setting records at Boise State.

DeLaet graduated from Boise State as the only three-time NCAA Regional Championships participant in school history. 

The WAC Player of the Year in 2006, DeLeat still holds the Broncos’ career wins record, with ten wins in total.

DeLaet, a Canadian native, still resides in Boise with his family, as he travels around the world playing the game he loves. 

Cedrick Wilson Jr. (NFL/Miami Dolphins)

Cedrick Wilson Jr. has an inspiring story not known to many Boise State football fans. 

Wilson Jr. began his collegiate career attending Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. 

In his two years at Coffeyville, he set a school record for receiving yards as well as earning the Junior College All-American honors.

In 2016, Wilson Jr. transferred to Boise State University. 

As a junior, he had significant production even despite torn ligaments in his left ankle.

As a senior, he led the team in receptions for 1,511 yards and had seven touchdowns. Throughout the season, he played through an ankle injury, including in the 38–28 win over Oregon at the Las Vegas Bowl whilst earning MVP honors.

Wilson was selected by the Dallas Cowboys 208th overall in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. 

After enduring many injuries, Wilson was placed on injured reserve after being diagnosed with a torn labrum in his shoulder.

Wilson was then released after being passed on the depth chart by fellow wide receivers. 

After serving as the fifth-string receiver, Wilson was persistent and played a role as both the kickoff and punt returner.

In the 2021 season, Wilson finished with career highs in every statistical category: 602 yards and six touchdowns on 45 receptions.

In 2022, Wilson signed a three-year, $22.8 million contract with the Miami Dolphins.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Aaron

    My personal favorite not many know about is Ryan Dinwiddie (football ’03) who set a then NCAA record in passion efficiency and ended up playing in the Canadian Football League, where he is now the head coach for the Toronto Argonauts

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