BOISE — Boise State quarterback Chase Cord is no stranger to the arduous journey back from a torn ACL.
He first suffered the injury playing basketball during his junior year at Sunrise Mountain High in Peoria, Arizona. When it happened again last fall, Cord knew what to expect. He even mentored a few of his teammates through recovery.
Cord’s familiarity with the process may have contributed to his speedy recovery. He was back on the field barely nine months after surgery. But what he wasn’t fully prepared for was fighting his way back into playing shape and not winning the starting job.
On Wednesday, Cord admitted he’d be lying if he said it didn’t bother him when Boise State coach Bryan Harsin named true freshman Hank Bachmeier the starter in August. But Cord also said transferring never crossed his mind.
“It was tough to hear just because I had been working so hard to get back and I did, but there was never that moment of doubt because I knew I just had to get right back to work,” Cord said. “That’s something that only motivated me to push further and push harder and keep pushing Hank and keep pushing the QBs in that room.”
In the age of the transfer portal, it’s not often that two starting-caliber quarterbacks stick around long enough to really commit their teammates’ names to memory, much less form a lasting bond. But that’s not the approach the Broncos’ signal callers have adopted.
“It’s not about me. I think guys saw that once I didn’t get the nod week one,” Cord said. “We talk about starring in your role. Understanding it and starring in it, so that’s been my mindset. Being the backup to Hank early on, you’ve got to prepare like you’re the starter, and that goes for every quarterback in that room.”
Bachmeier calls Cord his “big brother,” and that was never more clear than after Cord’s lone touchdown in the Broncos’ come-from-behind win at San Jose State. After a collision on the previous play, Bachmeier’s shoulder was getting tended to on the sideline when Cord crossed the goal line on a quarterback keeper, but Bachmeier was one of the first to run on the field and congratulate him.
“Chase is amazing and I think the whole unit is amazing,” Bachmeier told the media Tuesday. “... Everybody is just trying to help each other out, so I think our goal is just to win as a unit.”
Cord said Bachmeier’s energy is infectious on the field and in the locker room.
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“He’s a super outgoing person. That’s pretty sweet because I’m more of a quiet person,” Cord said. “But he’s awesome to be around and he really lights up that room and brings energy to all the quarterbacks.”
Third-string quarterback Jaylon Henderson — a junior college transfer from Kingwood, Texas — said he feels that energy every time Bachmeier lowers his shoulder into a tackler or tries to leap over a mob at the goal line.
“Hank’s a tough guy. He’s going to come out there and give it all he’s got,” Henderson told the media Wednesday. “That’s what you want in a quarterback, a guy that’s going to go balls to the wall for the team.”
Perhaps it’s Boise State’s commitment to get all three quarterbacks on the field that keeps the animosity that often comes with such a highly competitive atmosphere at bay. Bachmeier has started every game this season except the loss at BYU because he was recovering from a hip pointer sustained against Hawaii. Cord has appeared in every game except the Broncos’ win over Marshall, and Henderson has commanded the huddle in four of Boise State’s eight games.
Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said it isn’t so much the playing time that keeps things peaceful in the quarterbacks room. It has more to do with the kind of players the Broncos recruit.
“They are very selfless, and it’s all about winning games and winning championships,” Hill told the media Wednesday. “Guys know they’re going to have different roles, and they all prepare like they’re starters. … There’s not the egos in that room, so it’s very easy to coach.”
This season has come with special moments for both of the Broncos’ backups.
For Henderson — a redshirt senior, whose career began at University of Texas-San Antonio and made a detour through Trinity Valley Community College — it was a 25-yard touchdown on a check-down pass to running back George Holani against Hawaii. It was the first touchdown of Henderson’s Boise State career.
“The feeling that I felt was almost like running out of the tunnel. It’s a feeling like none other,” Henderson said.
For Cord, it was his first career start at BYU, even though it didn’t go his way in a 28-25 loss. He came out of high school as the all-time career leader in touchdown passes in the state of Arizona, and he had no shortage of scholarship offers to sift through before he chose Boise State.
After not getting the starting job this fall, it would have been easy for Cord to throw his name in the transfer portal and look for playing time elsewhere, but Harsin said Thursday that he was never worried that was even a possibility.
“We’re very aware those kinds of things happen all over the place, but not with him,” Harsin said. “We try to set the stage for our players before they ever come in here, when we recruit them. … If you deserve to play, we’re going to find a role for you and you’ll be on the field.”