Bart Hendricks grew up playing football with his buddies outside UNR’s Mackay Stadium, oblivious to any game inside except when the cannon fired after a Wolf Pack score.
It was on that grass, since replaced by the football fieldhouse, that Hendricks became a quarterback, one who would play not for his hometown Wolf Pack but for Boise State. The Broncos were preparing to move up to what then was called Division I-A, and Hendricks became the quarterback who helped make that transition.
He did more than that. Hendricks set the stage for many more outstanding Boise State quarterbacks to follow as the Broncos became a national power. He passed for 9,020 yards from 1997 to 2000 for what then was the second-best mark in school history. It’s now No. 5.
“I was lucky to be there at the beginning of the progression of the quarterbacks,” Hendricks said. “Let’s just say I’m glad I came along when I did. I know for sure I wouldn’t have made this (year’s) team. There’s no way.”
UNLV (1-3, 0-1 Mountain West) faces the latest standout Boise State quarterback when the No. 16 Broncos (4-0, 1-0) visit Sam Boyd Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Hank Bachmeier was a four-star recruit, the type of prospect who until recently wouldn’t have considered the Broncos but knew about their success with quarterbacks, most recently with Kellen Moore and Brett Rypien.
“Those guys before inspired a guy like Hank Bachmeier to want to come take a look at Boise State,” said Broncos coach Bryan Harsin, a former Boise State quarterback. “I absolutely believe that. That’s what good players do for programs. They leave it better than they found it, and those guys left it better than they found it.”
Bachmeier, who because he’s a freshman was not made available for an interview this week, opened his college career by rallying Boise State from two 18-point deficits at Florida State to win 36-31. The Broncos are 4-0, as Bachmeier has completed 64 percent of his passes and is averaging nearly 300 yards per game.
Before Bachmeier signed, Boise State mostly recruited quarterbacks overlooked by other major programs.
Harsin was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator when Moore, virtually unknown outside of Prosser, Washington, was identified as a potential recruit. Moore, now the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, went on to become the program’s career passing leader with 14,667 yards from 2008 to 2011. His 50-3 record makes Moore the winningest quarterback in FBS history.
“We didn’t really know what we had until he finally got here, and then you saw that (competitiveness) shine in how he prepared himself,” Harsin said. “Then the other part, when he went out there and played, just his feel of the game, that’s his secret sauce. I couldn’t even tell you what it is.”
Moore’s play helped gain Boise State national exposure, but Hendricks was in charge when the Broncos made the move to Division I-A.
Hendricks grew up a UNR fan and rushed the field after the Wolf Pack defeated Boise State 59-52 in triple overtime in the 1990 Division I-AA semifinals in Reno. Little did he know his allegiance would change.
Now Hendricks, 41, makes his home in the Southern Idaho city and works in fundraising at Boise State.
Nineteen years later, his impact is still being felt.
Boise State’s career passing leaders
1. Kellen Moore, 14,667, 2008-11
2. Brett Rypien, 13,581, 2015-18
3. Ryan Dinwiddie, 9,819, 2000-03
4. Tony Hilde, 9,107, 1993-96
5. Bart Hendricks, 9,020, 1997-2000
— — —
■ Who: UNLV vs. No. 16 Boise State
■ When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
■ Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
■ TV: CBS Sports Network
■ Radio: KWWN (1100 AM, 100.9 FM)
■ Line: Boise State -23; total 57