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December 3, 2011
Class of 2006 leaves big imprint on Boise State
BOISE, Idaho (AP) It's hard to imagine a recruiting class having as big and profound an impact as the one Chris Petersen and his staff signed five years ago for Boise State.
From Kellen Moore and Doug Martin, two key cogs of an offense that put up points at a record pace, to Billy Winn and Chase Baker on defense, the class of 2006 is poised to win more games and set more school records than any other recruiting class in school history.
Yet more than the records, the legacy of the 19 players that made up the first batch of recruits signed by Petersen as head coach may be in the work they did to elevate the Broncos' national profile from a cute, Cinderella story to a program that proved it's big victories on big stages were no fluke.
"You never know it's going to turn out that good," Petersen said this week in preparation for Saturday's season finale against New Mexico, the last home game for most of the players from that 2006 group.
"But I remember saying ... we really liked all of them on tape. It's always a little different when you get them, sometimes better, sometimes not as good. But with these guys it was as advertised. I think we were just really lucky to get a bunch of really good players at the same time," he said.
Good is one thing, but in many ways this class has been special.
For example, a win Saturday would give the class 49 victories, tying a school record. One more victory in a postseason bowl would set a new mark.
In 2009, Boise State finished 14-0 for the first time in school history, won its second BCS game, another Fiesta Bowl thriller, and finished No. 4 in The Associated Press' end-of-season poll, the highest postseason ranking in school history.
As well as rewriting all the school's passing records, Moore last year became the school's first Heisman Trophy finalist and is in the running for the honor this year. The lefty has also won 48 games during his brilliant career, more than any other quarterback in FBS history and his 137 touchdown passes rank second best all time.
Moore isn't the only member of the 2006 class to force massive edits in Broncos record books. Receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young and Martin, a running back who played cornerback early in his career, have all staked claims as some of the best Broncos ever at their positions.
Pettis, Young and cornerback Brandyn Thompson finished their work in four years and are all playing in the NFL, and they will likely soon be joined by Moore, Martin and Winn, each of whom were redshirted at some point along the way.
But there is plenty of evidence to showing how those wins on the field have led to bigger victories off it.
Last year, Boise State finally realized its dreams of being able to matchup more consistently with more competitive foes when it severed its 10-year relationship with the Western Athletic Conference to join the Mountain West Conference.
Now, even that upgrade appears temporary, as Boise State's football team is being courted by officials hoping to strengthen a Big East Conference hurt by the defections of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia.
When the 2006 class first arrived on campus, Bronco Stadium had a small, drafty, single-level press box, and luxury suites and swanky skyboxes were only a reality on architectural blueprints. Two years later, Bronco Stadium got a $36 million makeover that added thousands of new seats and a plush, six-story press box. Now, new athletic director Mark Coyle is being asked to raise another $100 million to add 20,000 more seats and build a new football office and training facility.
One of Petersen's consistent mantras to his players is simple: "Leave the place somehow better than you found it."
Moore and the rest of his mates from 2006 are convinced they've done just that.
"I think we felt it pretty early on," Moore said when asked if he ever wondered the 2006 class could accomplish great things. "You kind of got a hint about it when a handful of those guys were playing as true freshman.
"It was impressive. Our class has a lot of guys from a lot of different areas, and somehow we meshed well and got to like each other."