Boise State defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson got some unexpected help coaching the linebackers this year.
Sixth-year senior DJ Schramm came into the season hoping to build on the team-high 107 tackles that earned him second-team All-Mountain West honors last year, but those hopes were derailed by an injury.
Schramm hasn’t played since the Sept. 22 win at San Diego State because of an upper-body injury, but he hasn’t faded into obscurity. His teammates say he’s been like an extra coach on the sideline.
“It’s like he never really left,” said linebacker Marco Notarainni, who has started in place of Schramm. “Guys look up to him, and he’s constantly showing me things I didn’t even see on the field.”
Schramm won’t be coaching this weekend, though. He’s set to make his return to the field Saturday when Boise State (3-4, 2-1 Mountain West) hosts Wyoming (3:30 p.m., FS2).
Danielson said getting him back in the lineup is “huge.” He also said simply having Schramm around is a benefit to everyone, whether he’s playing or not.
“It’s not only his play on the field, but he really is a coach on the field in regards to making sure we’re all on the same page,” Danielson said. “He’s also one of the smartest football players I’ve ever been around in terms of situational football, and he works his tail off to make everybody around him better.”
Schramm hasn’t just offered his teammates moral support on the sideline. He has donned a headset to relay signals from Danielson, who spends games high above the field in the coaches’ room in the press box, and Schramm has even drawn up plays on the team’s whiteboard.
It wasn’t how he envisioned the final season of his college career playing out, but Schramm said he’s making the most of it.
“It’s been tough not being out there, but I’ve done my best to help the guys stay locked in,” he told the Idaho Statesman. “It feels good to be able to help the team any way I can.”
Coaching isn’t foreign to Schramm. He grew up on the sidelines with his father, Dave, whose career included stops as offensive coordinator at Utah, Fresno State and Weber State. Dave Schramm also coached running backs at Utah State in 2020.
After taking a hiatus from coaching, he is now the offensive coordinator at University of Mary — a Division II school in Bismark, North Dakota.
“It’s been a nice change for him,” DJ Schramm said. “There isn’t as much stress and pressure as other places he’s coached. He’s just enjoying getting back to football.”
Schramm’s childhood was spent making fond memories by hanging around practice and going to bowl games with his dad, but he said coaching isn’t a career path he sees himself pursuing.
Schramm said he’ll never say never, but he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Boise State and he plans to pursue a job in that field after his playing career ends.
“I’m just focused on right here and now,” he said. “I have a few games left in my career and I want to make the most of them. I’ll worry about the rest later.”
Schramm couldn’t have picked a better time to make his return. Wyoming (5-2, 2-1 MW) is averaging 164.4 rushing yards a game, which ranks No. 3 in the Mountain West.
The Cowboys’ leading rusher, Harrison Waylee, missed their loss to Air Force two weeks ago because of a sprained ankle and swelling in his knee. He got healthy during the bye week, and Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said Monday that he’s likely to play on Saturday.
Waylee, who transferred to Wyoming this year after three seasons at Northern Illinois, averages 7.2 yards a carry and leads the Cowboys with 540 rushing yards. He’s posted more than 100 rushing yards in three of the four games he’s played, including 110 yards against Texas and 191 against New Mexico.
He’s sure to be the focal point of Wyoming’s multifaceted rushing attack on Saturday, Danielson said.
“They’ve got a very physical, well-coached offensive line that does a great job of moving the line of scrimmage,” he said. “They want to impose their will on you, and they always have a host of tailbacks that can go the distance.”
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: High of 49, 22% chance of rain, 10 to 15 mph wind