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Thomas Sperbeck: Everyman

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Like most people, I grew up playing sports. Whether it was baseball, soccer, tennis...didn't really matter. If there was a sport, I played it. A few sports, namely wrestling and football, I grew to be fairly adept at. No, I was never all-state or anything like that...but I won a few tournaments, pinned a fair amount of metal to my letter, you know, that sort of thing. Now, at age 35 I can somewhat wistfully look back at those heady days when my cardio allowed me to get up the side stairs without breathing heavily, and doing yardwork didn't leave me reaching for BENGAY® the following morning. I still try to stay in shape, but mainly just "don't mug me" shape.

Now, as decent of an athlete as I used to be and as relatively in shape as I still am, I'm under no illusion that I could out-anything a collegiate athlete. But I've got my pride...I still size people up in the gym. Maybe do a few more reps than I should to show the youngsters how we did things back in the NINETIES. I may not beat them in a footrace, but by golly I could stay within 20 meters! So, sizing up the captain of the football team...I probably couldn't (and shouldn't) hip-toss him, but the captain of the debate team? That's a definite 'maybe'.

Here's my (long overdue) point: Boise State's Thomas Sperbeck is exactly the type of person you might just mistake for the captain of the debate team. A kid you might see at the gym and think, "man, I'm sore from trimming the hedges yesterday, but I could probably outlift that guy". Well, shoot maybe I could (short arms), but Sperbeck proves more than anything that looks can be deceiving, and that I should probably just lean into my mid-thirties.

Sperbeck, who probably couldn't grow a beard if he tried and who looks more like a frosh than a senior is about to destroy the Boise State record books and he'll do it without you even noticing, because he just takes out his retainer puts on his helmet and gets to work. Heading into his final Bronco campaign, the unassuming wideout needs just 734 yards to become the Broncos all-time leading receiver...more or less half of the yardage that he accounted for last season. The fact that he'll likely fly past the stoic Matt Miller, and the electric Titus Young is made all the more amazing because you probably didn't even realize Sperbeck was on the cusp of such greatness. Most don't even realize that Sperbeck smashed the single-season receiving record last season without breaking much of a sweat—Wikipedia didn't.

When Sperbeck was recruited—as a safety, mind you—it felt like a bit of an, "aww, what the heck" type of pick-up by the Broncos in the 2013 class. The 26 player class was loaded with talent from the likes of Martarano, Correa, Perez, Terry, Boesen, and Vallejo. The two-star Sperbeck just didn't stand out. Even if we would have known that Thomas was headed for the WR unit, did anyone think that he'd land ahead of other WRs nabbed in the same class—namely Tanner Shipley, Kendal Keys, or AJ Richardson? Let me answer that for you...no, you didn't—quit LYING. And yet, here we are...the "numbers offer" guy that looks like he works at Foot Locker is on the precipice of G.O.A.T. status at Boise State...a place with a rich history of offensive stars. We're told to not judge a book by its cover (well, except maybe this one...that's a pretty good cover) and darn it, Boise State may be the world's top prover of that adage.

The career receiving yards record should rightly be Matt Miller's, but an unfortunate injury left him tantalizingly short of Young's 3,063 yard plateau. Barring a similar fate (don't worry, already knocked on wood), Sperbeck should carve his name into the Bronco record books at seasons end (I'm assuming the record books are made of granite). It's about time everyman got his due. Now, someone pass me the BENGAY®.