‘I want you to fear me’: Boise State football players looking to go Pro

Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

With the NFL Draft starting on April 27, Boise State football players who declared for the draft are making team and fan impressions with the hopes of continuing their sport at a professional level. 

Some Broncos have even utilized their shining combine to declare that their solely focused on getting drafted in late April.

“If you come around me, you’re gonna get hit. I want you to fear me,” former Boise State football safety JL Skinner said in a press interview at the 2023 NFL Combine.

Skinner became a fan favorite player at Boise State and is becoming an NFL fan favorite as well. 

The Broncos had three players invited to the 2023 NFL Combine, making it the largest class of Broncos in the combine since 2020.

Boise State is no stranger to producing incredible NFL talents. With the likes of Khalil Shakir, Leighton Vander Esch, Brett Rypien and many others that currently play a role in the NFL, Boise State players can be quickly noticed by scouts.

At least one Boise State player has been picked in every NFL Draft since 2010.

This year, 13 players will look to join that list of former Broncos. 

The most notable of the 13 include offensive lineman John Ojukwu and safeties Tyreque Jones and JL Skinner.

JL Skinner

Skinner’s time at Boise State was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining and influential years for a student-athlete. 

Most people know him from his incredible tackle against Oklahoma State during the 2021 season. 

Others know him from his quick flashy plays and continuous energy on the field, as for NFL scouts, he has made quite the impression.

He has shown NFL scouts his ability to make the correct reads and pursue ball carriers at the correct angles throughout his collegiate career. His anticipation on route breaks and his ability to force turnovers helps him catch a scout’s attention.

Though Skinner wasn’t able to participate in the combine activities due to an injury, he was still able to record his measurements. 

“I know what I would’ve [done] at the Combine. I would’ve done some things that were pretty good,” Skinner said. “So, not having the opportunity to showcase that is a bummer, just ’cause I knew what I was capable of and the people in my camp knew what I was capable of, but you just have to keep your spirit high and be able to continue to push forward. It’s just a blessing in disguise, [I’ll] be back from it. It’s not really going to hold me out for too long, so it’s just really keeping my spirits right and continue to just kill this rehab.”

Tyreque Jones

Jones’ combine was impressive to say the least. 

With a 4.52 40-yard dash, a 32-inch vertical and 9-foot-11-inch broad jump, the 24-year-old safety has caught the eye of many NFL scouts.

Though his combine statistics were phenomenal, the thing he will most be remembered for in the combine was his failed backflip.

In Jones’ last season with the blue and orange, he recorded 34 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for-loss, three pass breakups and an interception.

John Ojukwu

After knocking out 26 reps on the bench press and running a 5.24 40-yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium for the NFL Combine, Ojukwu let most of his NFL Combine numbers do the talking. 

The Boise High School graduate and former Boise State captain simply measured in for scouts at Pro Day.

Boise State Pro Day Rundown

To showcase the Boise State Broncos talents who have dreams of playing in the NFL, Boise State hosted their Pro Day to 30 different NFL representatives on May 27. 

Ten Broncos participated in the pro day and were analyzed on their 225-pound bench press, the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, vertical jump, shuttle run and other specific activities that vary based on position. 

Amongst the 10 that participated in the Pro Day were defensive backs Caleb Biggers, Tyreque Jones, Tyric LeBeauf and De’Andre Pierce. Three defensive lineman — Scott Matlock, Divine Obichere and George Tarlas — were on display. On their lonesome representing their positions was tight end Kurt Rafdal, linebacker Ezekiel Noa and offensive lineman John Ojukwu.

Though he was unable to participate in Pro Day, JL Skinner was in the facility supporting his teammates.

[Sixth-year nickelback Tyreque Jones.]
Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

One of the most astounding performances came from Idaho native and defensive lineman Scott Matlock. 

Matlock led the group in the bench press with 29 reps while Biggers had 23 reps, and Tarlas posted 22 reps.

Pierce’s vertical jump of 35.5 was the best among Broncos taking part in Pro Day. He also recorded the day’s best broad jump among Broncos at 9-feet, 11-inches and the fastest three-cone drill (6.66).

Leading the way in the 40-yard dash was a trio of defensive backs. Biggers clocked the fastest mark with a time of 4.48, while Tyric LeBeauf and Pierce ran 4.58. Biggers also registered the day’s best shuttle (3.95).

Pro Day Standout

After pro day, Matlock is still continuing his tour around the nation as he visits with a multitude of different teams. 

Amongst the teams he has visited thus far are the New England Patriots and New York Jets and is still set to visit the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cincinnati Bengals later this month. 

Despite not receiving an invite to Indianapolis for the 2023 NFL Combine, the two-time All-Mountain West made every minute count at Boise State’s Pro Day in front of representatives from 30 out of 32 professional teams. 

Matlock impressed with a personal record 29 reps on the bench press and ran a 4.81 in the 40-yard dash. He also touted a 4.27 shuttle time and 29.5 inches on the vertical jump.

The Idaho native – who was selected 26th overall by the Houston Gamblers in the 2023 USFL College Draft – measured in at 6-foot-4 and 296 pounds, with nine-inch hands and nearly 79-inch arms.

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