By Chadd Cripe
© 2014 Idaho Statesman
Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin’s outreach to former players paid dividends Friday with a record turnout for the Gridiron Social, which was held after practice. The 350 former players were allowed to watch practice from the sideline, a tradition Harsin took from his time at Texas and applied last year at Arkansas State and this year at Boise State.
“This is awesome,” said former safety Quintin Mikell, who was a senior in 2002. “It’s a great feeling. 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.”
This was the sixth Gridiron Social. It has been held in the fall in the past.
The alumni reconnected with their former teammates and exchanged many handshakes and hugs as the practice went on. They also kept a close eye on the players at their former positions.
After practice, Harsin pulled the team and alumni together at midfield. A former player told them about the late Randy Trautman, the only Boise State College Football Hall of Famer who was memorialized this week in Boise.
Then Mikell, an 11-year NFL veteran, addressed the team. He talked to them about the “brotherhood” he shares with his former teammates and that the current players will experience with their 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.”
I talked to a bunch of former Broncos at the practice. I’ll post those interviews next week, after spring football is out of the way. Of note, Mikell and offensive lineman Daryn Colledge (eight years) are veteran free agents hoping to land one more job.
The Broncos will wear No. 70 helmet stickers in the Spring Game on Saturday to honor Trautman. The stickers aren’t expected to be used during the season.