Spring Position Previews: Defensive Line

     Boise State heads into the 2009 football season with the unique challenge of trying to improve upon its near perfection in 2008. The Broncos fell just two points shy of finishing last year undefeated after a 17-16 loss to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Broncos ended the year 12-1, 8-0 in Western Athletic Conference action. Most importantly, however, Boise State achieved its primary goal of reclaiming the WAC title and winning its sixth conference championship in seven years.
    Head Coach Chris Petersen will try and capture his third WAC championship since taking over the program in 2006. Petersen enters his fourth season as the Broncos’ head coach. He is 35-4 with a 23-1 record against WAC Opponents.
    Boise State returns a young but experienced team in 2009, with 14 returning starters and 39 remaining lettermen on the roster. The Broncos return six starters on offense, six on defense and two on special teams.  Of those 14 returning starters, seven are under classmen and only one is a senior.
     Today's Spring preview will feature an in-depth look at the defensive line for the Broncos.

     Defensive Line: The Boise State defensive line will have a whole new look this season, as the Broncos must replace three of four starters from 2008. Fortunately for Bronco fans, the names will be familiar as most of Boise State’s young d-linemen saw significant playing time last year. They will have tough standards to measure up to, however, as the Broncos led the WAC last season in total defense (308.2 yards per game), pass efficiency defense (94.4 rating) and scoring defense (12.6 points per game).
    Leading the defensive front will be standout defensive end, junior Ryan Winterswyk (6-4, 258), who was named First-Team All-WAC and Boise State’s co-Most Valuable Defensive Player as a sophomore. Winterswyk finished 2008 with 40 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded 4.5 sacks, six pass breakups and forced two fumbles. Sophomore Jarrell Root (6-3, 254) should bring depth to the position, having recorded nine tackles and one pass breakup last season before suffering a season ending injury against Utah State.
    At the other defensive end position, sophomores Shea McClellin (6-3, 255) and Byron Hout (6-1, 225) will be competing for playing time. McClellin played in 10 games last season before suffering an injury against Idaho. He had 14 tackles and three forced fumbles on the season. Hout also played in 10 games, seeing more time as the year progressed. He finished the season with 27 tackles and four sacks. He had his first career interception in the Poinsettia Bowl, which he returned 62 yards.
    Sophomores Billy Winn (6-4, 282) and Chase Baker (6-1, 284) return the most experience at defensive tackle for the Broncos. Winn played in all 13 games as a freshman, recording 26 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups and forced one fumble. Baker finished 2008 with six tackles, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery. He played in 10 games as a freshman.
    Sophomore J.P. Nisby (6-1, 295) and freshman Michael Atkinson (6-0, 320) are also expected to see valuable playing time this season. Nisby played in seven games last season, finishing the year with eight tackles. Atkinson spent 2008 as a redshirt. He was named Defensive Scout Player of the Year for his work on the Boise State practice team.

 Position Previews
 Receivers & Tight Ends
 Offensive Line
 Defensive Line
 Secondary April 13
 Special Teams
 April 16


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