Rifle grad Moss gets pregame honor at Boise State

Hazen Moss gets to carry a sledgehammer onto the football field today.

The 2008 Rifle High School graduate will get to participate in one of college football’s unique traditions when he’ll lead his fourth-ranked Boise State University football teammates onto the field this afternoon before the Broncos’ game against Nevada in Boise, Idaho. Versus will telecast the game, with kickoff at 12:30 p.m.

The Broncos started the sledgehammer tradition in 2002.

Each week, the coaching staff picks a player to carry the hammer and lead the team onto the field based on the special teams player who gives the most effort, plays with the most passion or delivers a key hit.

For the second time in his Boise State career, Moss (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) is the special teams captain of the week.

The first honor was during his redshirt freshman season, and his photo ended up on SI.com.

“That was weird (to see his photo online), but it’s an amazing opportunity,” Moss said. “It’s something you dream about doing when you come to Boise State. Being able to do it was awesome. It’s one of the coolest experiences.”

The junior defensive back was a defensive captain two weeks ago against Toledo.

Moss walked on at Boise State despite an injury-plagued high school career.

“His sophomore year he started to turn a corner for us and tore his ACL in the second half of our third game,” Rifle High School coach Damon Wells said. “Then eight days before our first game the next year, he tore the same ACL in the same knee.”

Moss, though, didn’t sulk. He continued to work, rehabilitating with strength and conditioning coach Alfonso Alfini, a Rifle High graduate and assistant football coach.

Moss started his day at 5:30 a.m. in rehab, Wells said, and would come in on weekends to break down film with the coaching staff.

“I guarantee you, if I got upset about it, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Moss said. “Coach Wells and Alfini kept me in football. I learned a lot of what the coaches did. Alfonso helped me get healthy again.”

Moss played his senior year, moving from running back to quarterback. He played linebacker on defense.

“He was definitely a running back, but we had a need at quarterback,” Wells said. “His junior year, we lost in the playoffs to Alamosa by eight points without Hazen. We probably win that game with him and who knows?”

Although Moss was recruited by several Division II programs, including Colorado Mesa University, he aspired to play at the Division I level. He sent video to Boise State, where he has family.

“I think it’s all high schoolers’ dream (to play Division I athletics),” Moss said. “When I called Boise State and sent them film, they said I could walk on. I figured I had to take advantage of my opportunity.”

Moss showed up at Boise State camp, knowing he’d have to catch the coaches’ attention.

It wasn’t until the first game of his redshirt freshman year he felt the coaches were convinced he could play for the Broncos.

“We were playing at Bowling Green,” Moss recalled. “I was on the kickoff team, I went down the field and blew up a guy. I got the attention of the coaches and they trusted me on kickoff.”

That season, he played in eight games, primarily on special teams and earned WAC All-Academic honors.

Last season, he played linebacker, recording six tackles and receiving WAC All-Academic honors again.

This season, he moved to defensive back and has five tackles in three games.

“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of this team,” Moss said. “The way we play shows. If someone doesn’t respect us, that’s their own opinion. Everyone that watches us can tell.”


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