June 19, 2011
Almost two centuries ago, the city of Elk Grove was best known as a popular stop for California gold miners. In recent years, Boise State has struck it rich with defensive backs from the Sacramento suburb.
First came Brandyn Thompson, a three-sport standout at Franklin High School who went on to star in Boise State’s 2010 Fiesta Bowl victory over TCU, capping an undefeated season for Head Coach Chris Petersen’s Broncos. Thompson, a seventh-round pick of the Redskins in this year’s NFL Draft, intercepted two Andy Dalton passes and compiled seven tackles in the Fiesta Bowl win, which cemented Boise State’s status as a college football powerhouse.
As a high school senior in 2006, Thompson started working out with another elite prospect from his hometown, seventh grader Marcus Rios. Thompson became a mentor and friend to Rios, a rising senior at Cosumnes Oaks High School now following in Thompson’s footsteps.
In March, Rios announced his intentions to join the Broncos, becoming the earliest verbal commit in program history. If Thompson’s Fiesta Bowl performance solidified Boise State’s place among the nation’s elite, Rios’ decision to go Mountain West over Pac-12 shows that the Broncos are here to stay.
“When I went there I felt that family feeling, and it felt like home,” Rios said. Rios’ commitment is not etched in stone quite yet; he still hears regularly from several schools that recruited him, including USC, UCLA and Nevada. He also received offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal Poly, Colorado, Sacramento State, Utah and Washington State before committing.
But he emphasized that Boise State is the place he wants to be.
“The program fits me best. It’s not too big, it’s not too small, it’s really just perfect for me,” he said. “And the coaching staff stood out to me—they told me everything up front. And there’s a close feeling, something I’d like to be around for the next four or five years.”
Rios is a physical cornerback as comfortable stopping the run as he is protecting against the pass. He considers agility and awareness his biggest strengths on the field, and he is working on closing faster for tackles. In his senior season at Cosumnes Oaks, he will try to help the team rebound from a pedestrian 5-5 record in 2010.
“Last year’s team and this year’s team are a whole lot different,” Rios said. “I feel we’re a lot more confident, we have a lot more speed in the backfield and our discipline is very strong. We’re ready to have a winning season this year.”
Still, the team’s hopes revolve largely around Rios, who also plays wide receiver. In fact, he is so important to Cosunmnes Oaks that he is the only player currently listed on the squad’s 2011-2012 MaxPreps.com profile.
After attending a four-day Boise State football camp that includes three practices per day, Rios will spend the summer continuing to develop his skills. When his high school season is complete, he will graduate early and return to the blue turf in Idaho for the next chapter of his career.
Story by Alex Leichenger