Joel Velazquez

Boise State kicker Joel Velazquez (46) kicks off during the 2017 spring game on April 8, 2017, at Albertsons Stadium.

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The Idaho Press is counting down the 20 most important players for the Boise State football team in 2019. Next up on our list is No. 15, Joel Velazquez:

This time two years ago Joel Velazquez was thought to be the leader to do both the field goal kicking and punting as a redshirt freshman for the Boise State football team.

He ended up as only a part-time punter.

Velazquez was beat out by a pair of virtually unknown walk-on transfers in Haden Hoggarth at kicker and Quinn Skillin at punter. Velazquez handled about one-third of the punts, finishing with 22 punts in 2017 for an average of 40.6 yards. He also was used on kickoffs.

Last year he appeared in 11 games as the primary kickoff specialist and had 38 touchbacks on 62 kickoffs. He had two punts for average of 35.0 yards.

Both Hoggarth and Skillin struggled mightily last season as the Broncos finished with their worst statistical years in both field goal kicking and punting in more than a decade.

But the two have graduated and moved on, leaving the Broncos searching for a replacement at both spots. The Broncos plan to bring in a transfer and signed a high-school specialist in February and they will be added to the competition this summer, but Velazquez would seem to be the leader in the clubhouse β€” just like he was two years ago.

He’s got experience and a strong leg and likely has improved since he arrived on campus back in 2016. Can he win either job β€” or both β€” heading into the season or will the Broncos have to rely on unproven newcomers at important spots?

Boise State needs better production out of its specialists this fall, and Velazquez has his chance to win back both spots back and impact the team.

This article originally ran on idahopress.com.

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