By Chadd Cripe
© 2014 Idaho Statesman
I caught up with a bunch of former Boise State football players last week at the Gridiron Social held in conjunction with the Spring Game. I’ll post blogs based on those interviews over the next three days.
Up first: Quintin Mikell and Daryn Colledge, two NFL veterans whose careers could be over.
The waiting game
Mikell, a safety, has played 11 seasons in the NFL — more than any former Bronco. He chose Boise State over offers from Idaho and Northern Arizona at the beginning of the Broncos’ FBS era and entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent.
He ranks second in Boise State history with 401 tackles.
“When I first went out (to Philadelphia), I was hoping to make practice squad and then I made (the active roster) and kept sticking,” Mikell said. “It’s been a dream come true. … I never could have imagined that I’d make it this far.”
Mikell played for the Eagles from 2003 to 2010. He joined the Rams for the 2011-12 seasons and spent last year with the Panthers. He sustained a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot in the playoff loss to the 49ers in January and was using a cart to move around the blue turf last week.
He’s a free agent.
“The first thing I want to do is get healthy and then go from there,” said Mikell, who has three children ages 2, 4 and 6. “I was getting calls from teams but I don’t think they knew about the injury and once they knew, they were like, ‘Uhhh.’ … It’s kind of up in the air. I’m not really in a rush to do anything right now.”
Colledge, a four-year starter at left tackle for Boise State from 2002 to 2005, has spent eight years in the NFL with the Packers (2006-10) and Cardinals (2011-13). He won a Super Bowl with the Packers, has not missed a game and has started every game for the past six seasons.
He started every game during his Boise State career and hasn’t missed a football game since his senior year of high school, when he wasn’t eligible for the season opener because he missed too many practices for baseball.
Like Mikell, he’s a veteran free agent waiting for a phone call.
“I’m proud of the things I’ve done,” Colledge said. “The thing I’m most proud of is continuing to be there for my team and not miss games, being there for my teammates. It was the same philosophy I had here — I wanted to be a guy who played every game because I want my teammates and coaches to be able to rely on me. I’ve kept that alive in the NFL. That’s why if somebody hasn’t gotten me through (training) camp, I’ll probably retire, because I don’t want to be a guy who goes out there, signs in week two, gets hit and gets injured and takes the whole year off. I don’t want to be one of those dudes who goes in there and steals from anybody. I’m excited to go out there and keep competing. I think I’ve got the ability to keep competing at a high level.”
Colledge and his wife, Megan, are in the process of moving to Boise full time. They have two daughters — Camryn, who is 2 ½, and Regan, who is 8 months.
He expects to hear from some NFL teams next month after the draft.
“They’ll go after the young guys in the draft and they’ll get who they get and if they don’t get who they want, they’ll call a guy like me to come in and fill a spot,” he said.
Familiar faces in charge
Mikell was on the Boise State roster with coach Bryan Harsin, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, offensive line coach Scott Huff, linebackers coach Andy Avalos and defensive backs coach Julius Brown. Running backs coach Kent Riddle was on the staff during his career.
Colledge played with Sanford, Avalos, Huff and Brown. Riddle, Yates and Harsin were on staff.
“They’re the heart and soul of what Boise State is about,” Mikell said. “They’re going to bring that back. Not to take anything away from (former coach Chris Petersen) because he did a great job — he took Boise State to places that many people never really imagined it would go. He had done as much as he could. Last season was tough, but now it’s time to bring it all back and I think we’ve got the right coaching staff to do that. These guys, I believe in them. They’re going to bring it back to where it needs to be — the heart and soul, fight for everything, no cockiness, no stepping on the field thinking you’re just going to win. You’re going to go out there and take it.”
Said Colledge: “At first, it’s a little bit of a shock when you lose a guy as talented as Pete. Not a single guy here is going to be able to talk bad about Pete. The things that Pete brought to this program, did for this program, those are things Hars will have a hard time chasing down, but I think he’s the right guy to do it. He’s excited for the opportunity to get to do it and he’s bringing a new energy to this program. It was time for a change and I think Pete knew that and the university knew that and everybody here is ready for that change, too.”
The Broncos were 31-1 in conference play during Colledge’s four years as a starter. They haven’t swept through their conference schedule since 2009.
“The (coaches) that are out there right now are guys who were part of the winning program here and I think they’re going to bring that same mentality back and remind these guys what it was like back when we didn’t lose (conference) games,” Colledge said.
Glad to be back
Mikell and Colledge were among a record 350 former players who attended the Gridiron Social.
Harsin put a new spin on it by inviting the players to watch Friday’s practice from the sideline. He also had the former players join their position groups for post-practice meetings and dinner.
“A lot of these kids have forgotten the history,” Colledge said. “A lot of the guys, you run into dudes and they don’t know anybody that came before them and back in the day, we knew everybody who came before us. It makes us feel like we’re part of the program again, but it also gets those young guys to realize they’re out there playing for more than just themselves.”
Mikell addressed the team in the post-practice huddle. He spoke about the “brotherhood” he enjoyed with his teammates.
“Just being back, it sparked something in me — wow, this is what it’s about,” Mikell said. “You play and you think you play four or five years, but really it’s a lifetime. It’s lifelong friends that I talk to every single day.”
About those facilities
Colledge got to spend a few practices in the indoor facility when it was still under construction. The Stueckle Sky Center, Bleymaier Football Center, end-zone bleachers and video board have been added since he played.
“These are the best facilities I’ve ever been around in college or the NFL,” Colledge said. “These guys, they’ve got nothing to complain about. If they’re not winning with this, then it’s the guys and not the system. They’ve got a lot of weight on them. They’ve got to step up.”
Said Mikell: “Walking in the locker room and seeing all this stuff, it’s incredible. It’s crazy because it’s almost the same but it’s so much different.”
Tomorrow, I’ll post interviews with several more recent players, including Austin Pettis, Jeron Johnson and Chase Baker.