Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Good though they may be, Boise State still has a tremendous challenge on its hands facing Georgia in the Chick-Fil-A College Kickoff game Saturday night. And after electing to hold out three key players due to eligibility concerns, that challenge has only become more daunting.
The Broncos announced in a brief statement Friday that senior safety Cedric Febis, sophomore defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe and sophomore wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn had not accompanied the team to Atlanta.
"The three are being held out of the game due to a review of their NCAA eligibility," the statement read. "The review is not academic or violation of team rules."
The three players all have a few noteworthy things in common. The first is that all three are originally from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where they each played for local football club teams before coming to the U.S. All three played for prep high schools in Boise before joining the Broncos.
The second is that all three are expected to be major contributors for the Broncos this season. A fifth-year senior, Febis was in line to earn a starting safety position following the graduation of Jeron Johnson. He is likely to be replaced by redshirt freshman Jeremy Ioane.
Though not in the projected first string for Saturday's game, both Boldewijn (formerly known as Geraldo Hiwat) and Tjong-a-Tjoe were expected to see plenty of snaps as the Broncos look for receiving playmakers (in Boldewijn's case) and spell star tackles Billy Winn and Chase Baker (in Tjong-a-Tjoe's). Tjong-a-Tjoe finished in the team's top eight in both sacks and tackles-for-loss in 2010.
The losses may not be as fatal as losing players like Kellen Moore or potential All-American safety George Iloka. But the Broncos by nearly all accounts were already facing deficits in the areas of depth and athleticism going up against an SEC team like Georgia, and the loss of three quality players and athletes won't make those deficits any easier to cope with.