Boise State’s ‘fun-loving’ tight end got serious about blocking, earning a starting spot

Boise State tight end Matt Lauter made a leaping, one-handed touchdown catch during a scrimmage this spring and he celebrated with what was his signature move at Torrey Pines High School in California.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound redshirt sophomore did a standing back flip and stuck the landing to the surprise of his teammates. It wasn’t a surprise to Boise State tight ends coach Nate Potter.

“He’ll shock you with his athleticism,” Potter said. “He’s a big, physical kid, but he’s just as likely to run by you or make a miracle catch when you think you have him covered.”

Boise State has already given up more deep passes than all of last season. Here’s why

Lauter said he probably isn’t going to make back flips a regular part of his touchdown celebrations, mostly because the coaches weren’t thrilled to see him risk injury to pull it off.

He might change his mind if he hauls in the first touchdown of his college career Saturday against Wyoming (3:30 p.m., FS2). Lauter has been in the starting lineup five times this season.

“I put in a lot of work in practice and the film room, which is why I’m comfortable enough to have fun on the field,” Lauter told the Idaho Statesman. “You’ve got to have fun out there.”

Former Torrey Pines head coach Ron Gladnick said he first saw Lauter land a back flip when he was a 225-pound junior. He also watched Lauter have plenty of fun on and off the field.

“On the field, he’s an amazing athlete who runs great routes and has great hands,” said Gladnick, who is now the head coach at St. Augustine High in California. “Off the field, he’s a fun-loving guy. He’s pretty lighthearted, and he’s capable of some pranks.”

Lauter still keeps things pretty light in the locker room, fellow Boise State tight end Riley Smith said.

This Boise State linebacker is ready to put his headset down and get back to tackling

“He keeps the energy high and the spirits high, and he’s just a fun dude to be around,” Smith said.

Lauter may be a jokester off the field, but he knows how to flip a switch and get down to business when it’s game time.

He showed off his big-play ability in the Broncos’ loss to Memphis when he hauled in a 59-yard pass and finished the game with career highs in catches (three) and yards (76).

Lauter has always been a big-play threat, said former Torrey Pines linebackers coach Duane Bickett, who was the No. 5 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft and was named defensive rookie of the year in his first season with the Colts.

Blocking was another story, Bickett said.

“Matt never really wanted to block in high school,” he said. “He knew he could outrun and out jump most of the defenders he faced, but I told him, ‘If you want to play in college, you’re going to have to learn to block.’ ”

That’s exactly what Lauter did. From hitting tackling bags under former tight ends coach Kent Riddle to perfecting his technique with Potter, blocking has become serious business for the San Diego native.

“Having a position coach who pushes you and goes over film with you helps,” Lauter said. “When you buy in, you’re able to go on the field and translate what you learned in the meeting room.”

Lauter will have to put those newfound blocking skills to use Saturday against Wyoming’s star-studded defensive front seven.

Linebacker Easton Gibbs, the preseason Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, leads the team with 63 tackles. Cole Godbout is one of the most stout nose tackles in the conference, and defensive ends Devonne Harris and Jordan Bertagnole are dangerous pass rushers.

The Cowboys have one of the best defensive fronts Boise State will face all season, Broncos head coach Andy Avalos said.

“Week in and week out, you can see how they match the challenge in front of them,” Avalos said. “When you watch the film, you can really see how disciplined and consistent they are.”

WYOMING AT BOISE STATE

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Albertsons Stadium

TV: Fox Sports 2 (Eric Collins, Devin Gardner)

Radio: KBOI 670 AM/93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)

Records: Boise State 3-4, 2-1 MW; Wyoming 5-2, 2-1 MW

Series: Boise State leads the series 16-1, including a 20-17 win last season in Laramie

Vegas line: Boise State by 5

Weather: 45 degrees at kickoff, 0% chance of rain, 10 mph wind