Of all the things Jessica Madsen could have done in the hospital when she was about to deliver her third child, she watched a Friday night baseball game between the Dodgers and Braves.
That night, Hall of Famer Greg Maddux allowed just two hits and no runs en route to a victory. A few hours later, Maddux Jeter Madsen entered the world.
Jessica and Eric Madsen had the name before they arrived at the hospital on August 1, 2003. Maddux’s win over the Dodgers that night just makes the story a whole lot better.
Also making the story better: Their other children are named Mick (Mickey Mantle), Macee (Eric wanted Jo after Joe DiMaggio, but that didn’t fly so they went with Macee Jo), McGwire (Mark McGwire // “Literally when we decided to name him McGwire, (the steroid stuff) started to come out,” Eric said. “We were like, ‘Oh great.’”), Mays (Willie Mays) and Murphy (Dale Murphy).
The odd part — you know, after getting past the fact that a kid named Maddux Jeter is playing football — is after all the thought and significance behind his name, Boise State’s quarterback might not hear his actual name until he calls his parents.
“I didn’t know his name was Maddux for probably the first seven months I knew him,” Boise State receiver Billy Bowens said. “He’s just Maddog. … He was introduced to us as Maddog That’s all I knew from the moment he stepped in here.”
Maddux … err Maddog’s name has grown louder and louder this week.
On Monday, two days after Boise State’s 35-32 loss at Memphis, head coach Andy Avalos announced the Broncos would play both Madsen and Taylen Green this week against San Jose State.
As much as folks want to paint that as some indictment against Green, it says more Madsen. The kid is nails.
He took over in the third quarter against UCF for an injured Green. If he had taken 10% of the first-team snaps leading into that game, it would have been a miracle. And, yet, Madsen waltzed on the field with this nonchalant swagger. Folks show more emotion if their steak has too much salt. Still, Eric could tell something was off.
“I said to my wife,” he said, “I was like, ‘He doesn’t look confident. This is tough on him.’”
The Broncos did punt on his first two drives, but when Boise State needed a score, Madsen delivered, orchestrating a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The highlight: With his options lost on 4th-and-2, Madsen lowered his shoulder and bulldozed a 235-pound linebacker to notch the first down. The confidence was back.
“I just looked at (Jessica) and said, ‘This game is over,” Eric noted.
The fairytale ending did not come to pass. UCF drove down the field, kicked a game-winning field goal and spoiled Madsen’s coming-out party. A similar script played out last week against Memphis. With the Broncos trailing late and needing a spark, the coaches trotted Madsen back on the field.
All he did was score back-to-back touchdowns while completing 79% of his passes (11-14) for 175 yards. If the Boise State defense did not allow Memphis to eat up almost seven minutes of clock with a 13-play touchdown drive, we could have perhaps seen another dose of Madsen magic.
“For Maddux, he never thinks the opportunity is too big for him,” Madsen’s brother, Mays, said. “He always just goes in, stays calm and does his thing.”
That is incredible to think about. Thirteen months ago, Madsen was barely even a footnote. He was a fourth-string quarterback who looked just as likely to play for Boise State as Greg Maddux himself. And, now, he’s has positioned himself to possibly become the Broncos’ quarterback going forward.
To try and project what Madsen will do on Saturday, it is best to understand everything that led up to Saturday.
We could start at the beginning, but you already know what was on the television inside the hospital room when he was born, so we’ll speed up.
Here is the SparkNotes version of how Madsen got to where he’s at and why those who know him best believe he’ll thrive.
— He grew up as the unofficial bat boy for the Utah Valley University baseball team. Eric was an assistant for the Wolverines for five seasons and was the head coach from 2009 to 2021.
“We always used to tell people, (Maddux is) used to losing,” Jessica said. “Eric had years — he coached for 28 years — and Maddux was the bat boy since he could walk. He’s been around it all.”
“I think a big part of (Maddux’s poise) is just his family,” Boise State tight ends coach Nate Potter said. “His dad, how he grew up, the competitive environments he grew up around I think has a huge part of it. And there’s probably something innate about him that allows him to be confident in those big moments.”
— Madsen started for American Fork High’s (Utah) JV team as a freshman. AF offensive coordinator Micah Hunsaker was “cautiously optimistic” he could lead the varsity squad as a sophomore. Granted, he had never started a sophomore, but his options were limited.
Hunsaker started the prepping early. While Madsen was still going to the junior high in ninth grade, his parents would drive him over to the high school super early on most mornings.
“We’d watch film for about an hour or so and then I’d actually drive him up to the junior high and drop him off,” Hunsaker said. “I knew he was our best shot and I wanted to make sure he was prepared if that opportunity came.
“Over and over we’d watch film from the previous years and break it down anyway we could,” he continued. “Like, ‘Hey, let’s watch coverages this week. Let’s watch pressures this week and how we’re gonna respond to different blitzes and pressure packages.’”
— This is not the first time Madsen has been a part of a “two-quarterback system.” That phrase is only in quotes because very rarely do teams actually run a two-quarterback system. No, they have their quarterback competition play out on the field then wait for someone to emerge.
Heading into his sophomore year, after all the mornings film sessions, a senior named Hayden Betts transferred in from nearby Lehi High. Soon after, Betts’ mom called Jessica hoping she wasn’t upset about the decision.
“Maddux is stoked,” Jessica responded. “It’s either gonna make him better or your son better. A quarterback competition is never a bad thing.”
They went back and forth during fall camp and, though the two-quarterback system played out during the first few weeks, Madsen was the first guy on the field for the Cavemen’s season opener.
“I just felt more confident in him,” Hunsaker said. “But I also wanted to give the other kid a chance, in games, to show (himself). It might not always be great at the beginning. But the goal is to always have the right guy at the end.
— If the 5-10 Madsen was two inches taller, Hunsaker pointed out, he probably would not be at Boise State. Power-5 offers would have flowed early and often. But the fact Madsen is not some hulking Greek God makes the little details so important.
Beyond the poise and the confidence is precision. Madsen has been so effective for Boise State because he knows what’s coming. He knows what to do against any coverage. He understands where he’s going with the ball — and is OK hitting his check-down if option one is shut down.
He fires a solid spiral, but he also is excellent at throwing to space. He leads his receiver, puts the ball not just where they can catch it but where they can catch it and then runs for 25 yards.
“He has great anticipation,” Hunsaker said, “which is unheard of. In high school, we talked about it a lot because it’s really hard to get to.”
— Perhaps you’ve noticed it after just five games this year. Madsen is a gamer. This week, offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan raved about his young quarterback because not only has he played spectacularly, but he’s done it while getting, at best, a fifth of the reps Green has notched.
He has always had this ability to rise to the circumstance.
During his junior year, he dislocated his shoulder playing football but while he was lifting weights in January ahead of baseball season, his shoulder popped out again. Doctors recommended surgery and Madsen abided.
But he had been limited for much of baseball season. He had pitched just a handful of times all season. Then came the state title game. American Fork was up 9-6 with and inning to play. In Kirk Gibson-style, the coach called for Maddux to close it out.
“He didn’t even blink,” Eric said. “He was a talented pitcher but he didn’t have like lights-out stuff. He was just more competitive than the guy at the plate.”
Months after shoulder surgery, Madsen got the Cavemen out of a jam, allowing no hits, no runs and no walks to lead American Fork to the championship.
“Not surprising,” Hunsaker said.