BOISE, Idaho (AP) — In each of the past two seasons, Boise State players, coaches and fans could only wince as they watched last-second field goal attempts miss the mark and ultimately spoil undefeated seasons and bigger postseason dreams.
On Wednesday, coach Chris Petersen took another step toward avoiding future heartaches from the kicking game by handing out a scholarship to a kicking specialist from California.
Sean Wale, a 6-2, 175-pound kicker/punter who was 9-of-12 on field goals, including a 52-yarder, in his senior year is one of 24 new recruits in Petersen's 2012 recruiting class.
Petersen said he expects Wale, from La Habra, Calif., to compete with freshman Jake Van Ginkel, who also is on scholarship, and walk-ons Michael Frisina and Dan Goodale, who shared kicking duties last season.
Last year, Boise State's perfect season ended against TCU in November when Goodale's last-second kick sailed wide. The previous year, the Broncos' undefeated season and BCS hopes faded at Nevada when Kyle Brotzman missed short field goals at the end of regulation and overtime.
"We're going to do what we need to do to get our situation solved," said Petersen, whose team finished 12-1 last season and demolished Arizona State 56-24 in the MAACO Bowl. "We definitely brought (Wale) in here to compete for kicking field goals."
With the rest of the new batch of recruits, Petersen and his coaching staff got nearly an even split on offense and defense.
Of the 11 recruits on offense, the offensive line got the most attention with three signees, including Mario Yakoo, a 6-4, 320-pound guard who had previously committed to UCLA but had the offer pulled by the new Bruins coaching staff.
The Broncos also landed quarterback Nick Patti, who graduated from high school early and is one of six players already enrolled on campus.
Patti, 5-11, 195 pounds, is the lone recruit from Florida and one of four quarterbacks competing to replace Kellen Moore under center. During his prep career, Patti compiled a 34-4 record, threw for 5,701 yards and 66 touchdown passes and last year was a finalist for the Mr. Football in Florida award.
"We've had Nick targeted for a long, long time," Petersen said. "We feel really good about him. We feel really good about the three other guys. And it's going to be one heck of a competition, that's really what it is."
The offense also includes two running backs, one fullback, two receivers and a pair of tight ends.
On defense, Boise State signed 12 players, focusing heavily on linebacker and defensive end. Some of those fresh faces, including linemen like junior college transfer Demarcus Lawrence, may see playing time this season as the defense looks to replace front four stalwarts like Billy Winn, Tyrone Crawford, Chase Baker and Shea McClellin.
Lawrence, 6-4, 248 pounds, transferred in December from Butler Community College, where he recorded 66 tackles, 10 sacks and helped his team to a No. 2 ranking in the national polls.
Boise State signed five linebackers and their arrival is timely. The Broncos have just J.C. Percy and Tommy Smith as players who played significantly last year, along with sophomore Blake Renaud, leaving the position a weak spot on a defense that struggled at times last year to stop the run.
Andrew Pint, 6-1, 220 pounds, was named all-state in Colorado last year after notching 85 tackles and helped lead Valor Christian High School to consecutive state titles. Ben Weaver, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound middle linebacker from Texas, committed to Boise State last summer after considering offers from more than a dozen different schools.
The class also includes two safeties and a cornerback, but only one Idaho native, wide receiver D.J. Dean from Eagle.
Petersen praised the class Wednesday, defining the players as more instinctive, smart and talented than awash in blue chips and fancy stars handed out each year by the recruiting gurus.
"Don't even talk to me about rankings and stars," Petersen said. "Those things have never meant anything to us."
He also praised the new recruits for sticking with Boise State amid the coaching changes of the last two months. Petersen lost offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who left for Florida, defensive backs coach Marcel Yates, now coaching at Texas A&M, and special teams coach Jeff Choate, who accepted a position at Washington State.
"I think you've really got to credit the kids we recruited and their decision to stick to their commitments," Petersen said.
Petersen also announced that former Bronco linebacker Andy Avalos has been hired to coach the defensive line. Avalos played for Boise State between 2000-04 and was coaching linebackers last season at Sacramento State.