Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fierce But Thin

Although Boise State's secondary should be one of the most aggressive and bone-jarring units in the country, in terms of depth, it is one of the weakest on the team.  This is largely due to the great disparity in the recruiting classes in sheer numbers.  While the 2008, 2009 and 2011 classes all had 20 or more recruits, the 2010 class--the one that should be providing depth at this juncture, only contained 10 recruits.  Coach Chris Petersen has addressed this disparity, saying he wants to even out the classes but of course to do so, he needed to play about 6-8 true freshman last season.  That would have put those guys in the same graduating class as the 2010 recruits, most of whom redshirted.  The next opportunity to even things out will be in the 2015 class, three seasons from now.

Petersen and his staff took advantage of the large recruiting class last year (21 members) to bring in some great young talent, but they'll have to jump in next year to replace the two senior starting cornerbacks.  The depth situation is especially evident at safety, where a freshman is the #2 at free safety, and a senior backs up the strong spot.  


The situation at Boise State's hybrid linebacker-defensive back position, called the Nickel, is bright.  JC Transfer Dextrell Simmons (5-11, 200, Sr.) has won the starting job but he has loads of talent behind him.  Simmons played in all 13 games last season, posting 16 tackles, 10 of them solo, with one for loss, two deflections and a forced fumble.  At Blinn Junior College, Simmons helped his team win the NJCAA National Championship in 2009.

Capital High School's Corey Bell (5-11, 206) gave him a major battle for the job and he'll be a great one to watch over the next three seasons.  Bell played in eight games as a true freshman last year, recording nine tackles and a fumble recovery.  While at Capital, Bell was the SIC Player of the year and all-state in 2010 after registering 44 tackles, 12 for loss, three sacks and three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.

Jonathan Brown (5-10, 211, Jr.) is ready to play, giving Boise State three talented players that could take the field against Michigan State and do fine.  Brown played in eight games as a freshman with 16 tackles and a pass break-up.  Last season, Jonathan played in 10 games with four starts and finished the season with 19 tackles, including 2.5 for loss and a forced fumble.

Christopher Santini (5-11, 220, Fr.) may be the most talented of the bunch and he'll use his redshirt year to learn the Bronco system and be ready to come out firing on all cylinders next year.  Santini was all-state as a senior at Leland High School in California, posting 99 tackles, 72 solo, four sacks, five pass break-ups, four fumbles, a safety and two blocked kicks.  Hilton Richardson (6-2, 217, Fr.) walked onto the program last year and provides depth.


The key here is good luck--both Jerrell Gavins (5-9, 169) and Jamar Taylor (5-11, 196) were injured last year, though Jamar was able to recover in time to make that brilliant 100-yard interception return against Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl.  If both can stay strong and healthy this fall, expect them to be one of the best corner combinations in the country.  So there you have the quandary--gifted seniors as starters to make this one of the best positions in the lineup, but untested talent behind them. 

Gavins is another Boise State walk-on success story.  After a year at El Camino Junior College, Gavins made an impact right away.  Jerrell played in 12 games as a sophomore including a start against #4 TCU.  He finished the season with 31 tackles, 23 solo, four pass break-ups and 1.5 tackles for loss.  In 2010, Gavins played in all 13 games with one start and had 30 tackles, 15 solo, including 1.5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks and an interception.  Gavins was having a tremendous season last fall with 11 tackles and three interceptions in the first three games when he suffered a season-ending injury.

Ebo Makinde (5-10, 181) and Bryan Douglas (5-9, 166) are listed as the backups behind Gavins and Taylor--they have 30 combined career tackles.  

There's certainly some talent behind that group, but it's largely underclassmen.  Deon'tae Florence (5-9, 168, So.) had a solid fall camp and we'll begin hearing his name more this season.  Florence had 41 tackles, 15 pass break-ups and eight interceptions at College of the Desert in junior college.  Donte Deayon (5-9, 143, Fr.) just needs to bulk up and will likely redshirt.  Deayon was the Most Valuable Player of of his conference at Summit High School in California.  Donte had 92 tackles, four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks as a senior. 

Centennial High School product Josh Borgman (5-7, 174) knows the system and will contribute in his senior year.  Borgman was named Boise State's Special Teams Scout Player of the year in 2008 and  was a star on special teams in 2009, recording 11 tackles, 10 of them solo.  Josh appeared in nine games in 2010 and had seven tackles, four of them solo.  He also returned four punts for a 7.8 average. Chaz Anderson (5-10, 175) was a member of the 2012 recruiting class and has people inside the Bronco program excited.  Anderson was second-team all-state and all-conference in the tough Sierra League.  Trey Corta (5-10, 182) is a local product from Homedale High School and he'll redshirt as well.  


Jeremy Ioane (5-10, 197, So.) has won the starting spot at strong safety.  Ioane started against Georgia last year but did not finish the season in the starting 11 and he'll need to carry out his assignment on the field.  Ioane redshirted in 2010 and played in 10 games last season with the one start.  Ioane had six tackles on the season, four of them solo.  We know he has natural ability; where Jeremy can make great strides is in his knowledge of the Bronco defense and his responsibilities and his on-field execution. 

Lee Hightower (6-2, 192, So.) has great upside--he was pressed into duty as a true freshman with the injuries last year and responded by getting better each week.  Lee played in eight games with four starts and recorded 25 tackles, 18 of them solo, with 2 tackles for loss, an interception and four pass break-ups.  That experience will pay huge dividends this year as Lee will start at free safety.  

Senior Hazen Moss (6-0, 201) and freshman Darian Thompson (6-1, 197) are listed as the backups to Ioane and Hightower.  Moss played in eight games as a freshman and was another standout on special teams, with 10 tackles, seven of them solo.  Moss was a linebacker at reserve in 2010 with six tackles and a forced fumble.  Hazen was named to the WAC All-Academic Team each of his first two seasons.  Moss again was a star on special teams last year with 11 tackles.

Thompson redshirted last year and is ready to contribute to the success of the Broncos.  He Was All-CIF at Paraclete High School in California as a senior after finishing with 74 tackles, 35 solo, seven interceptions, eight pass break-ups and two pick sixes.  

Chanceller James (6-1, 194) has been bandied about as a possible player at true freshmen--a lot of that will depend on the health and performance of the starters.  James was an all-league performer at Steele Canyon High School in California last year after recording 80 tackles, five interceptions and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.  The Bronco depth took another hit as we learned in the spring that Taylor Loffler (6-3, 211, Fr.) may not play for the second consecutive year.  

Dillon Lukehart (6-0, 199) of Eagle High School in Idaho will likely see significant playing time after his redshirt season last fall.  Dillon was named Special Teams Player of the Year in his redshirt season after coming to Boise State from Eagle High School in Idaho.  Lukehart was the SIC Offensive Player of the Year as a senior and was all-conference on defense as a senior after rushing for 1,824 yards and 26 touchdowns and recording 106 tackles on defense.  Eric Agbaroji (6-1, 203, Fr.) is another promising young player in the Bronco secondary.  Agbaroji was all-conference his senior year at Midlothian High School in Texas after recording 30 tackles, 12 pass break-ups, an interception and three field goal blocks.  

Secondary coach Jimmy Lake has preached to his unit the necessity to create turnovers.  They responded in the fall camp by increasing their turnover count and Lake believes the group has the right mentality heading into the season.  As mentioned above, the secondary should be a strength, but beyond the starters, the youngsters will have to grow by leaps and bounds.

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