Bronco Defense Preview - Experienced unit looks to lead Broncos to another WAC title
BOISE, Idaho -- The Boise State defense returns seven starters and a number of other players that made an impact during the 2007 season. A group of young players who redshirted last season and a handful of newcomers should help the defense's depth and production.
Defensive Line: The Broncos boast both experience and youth along the defensive front. They return both of their starting defensive ends and a pair of defensive tackles who saw extensive playing time. They also have a talented group of young guys waiting in the wings.
Senior Mike T. Williams (6’3, 248) and sophomore Ryan Winterswyk (6’4, 258) will hold down the end positions, giving Boise State a pair of solid pass rushers.
Williams led the Broncos with six sacks last season while also finishing with 28 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. Winterswyk, who was named Boise State’s outstanding defensive lineman, was the team leader in tackles for loss with nine while also finishing seventh on the team in tackles with 43, including 5.5 sacks.
Backing up Williams will be redshirt freshman Jerrell Root (6’3, 254), who was named the defensive scout team player of the year last season. Behind Winterswyk are a couple of players with some experience. Senior Phillip Edwards (6’4, 296) moves to end after playing mostly tackle during his first three seasons with the Broncos. He had 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a half a sack as a junior. Senior Steven Reveles (6’0, 280) had three tackles in four games as a junior but missed most of the season with an injury.
Inside, the Broncos return two players with experience and three redshirts. Senior Joe Bozikovich (6’0, 273) finished last season with 18 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Senior Sean Bingham (6’3, 260) moved from end to tackle in the spring and was impressive earning a starting spot. He had four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack last year.
Challenging for playing time inside will be three freshmen who redshirted last season and one who grayshirted. Billy Winn (6’4, 282) appears to be the most likely to contribute among the redshirts, but J.P. Nisby (6’1, 295) and Chuck Hayes (6’2, 260) both have a chance to make an impact as well. Grayshirt freshman Chase Baker (6’1, 284) heads into the fall on the two-deep behind Bozikovich. Grayshirt freshman Shea McClellin (6’3, 255) will likely redshirt.
The Broncos add a number of true freshman who could make a run at playing. Greg Grimes (6’0, 270), Darren Koontz (6’3, 255) and Michael Atkinson (6’0, 320) all will look to earn playing time in the fall.
Linebacker: The Broncos return four linebackers who saw significant action last season while also adding two redshirt freshmen, four true freshmen and a junior college transfer.
Two-year starter Kyle Gingg (5’11, 203) returns to the Will position he shared with David Shields in 2006. Gingg, a senior, played middle linebacker for the Broncos last season and finished first on the team with 94 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Redshirt freshman Hunter White (5’11, 211) and junior college transfer Daron Mackey (6’0, 230) will challenge for playing time as well.
Sophomore Derrell Acrey (6’1, 233) and senior Dallas Dobbs (6’1, 215) will battle into the fall to see who starts at middle linebacker. Acrey backed up Gingg last season and finished with 17 tackles and a tackle for loss. Dobbs, who started a number of games at Will linebacker last season, finished third on the team in tackles with 71, while leading the team with three interceptions. Grayshirt Dan Paul (6’0, 229) could battle for time but may redshirt. Redshirt freshman David Wilson (6’1, 217) adds depth up the middle.
Senior Tim Brady (6’1, 204) returns to start at the Sam linebacker position, where he finished fourth on the team in tackles with 57 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Redshirt freshman Aaron Tevis (6’3, 214) will battle Brady for playing time. Redshirt freshman Matt Wilson (6’1, 220) adds depth at this position.
The Broncos also have three true freshmen joining the team in the fall at linebacker. Byron Hout (6’1, 225), Tommy Smith (6’1, 205) and Jack Sula (6’0, 205) will all join the team and battle for playing time.
Defensive Back: The Broncos lost a pair of longtime starters in Marty Tadman and Orlando Scandrick but return a number of players with experience in the defensive backfield.
Kyle Wilson (5’10, 185) is an All-America candidate and will anchor one of the cornerback positions. The junior moved into the starting lineup midway through his freshman season and has started since. As a sophomore, Wilson was eighth on the team in tackles with 41 and had two interceptions and eight pass breakups.
Sophomore Brandyn Thompson (5’10, 180) heads into the fall as the starter at the other corner position. Last year as a true freshman, Thompson served as Boise State’s third cornerback and had 16 tackles.
Sophomore Keith McGowen (5’9, 177) looks to be the Broncos’ third cornerback. Last season as a redshirt freshman, McGowan had four tackles. Competing for playing time with Thompson and McGowan are redshirt junior Garcia Day (6’1, 199), who moved from safety and provides a more physical game, and redshirt freshman Antwon Murray (5’11, 174). The Broncos also signed a pair of corners, Raphiel Lambert (5’9, 185) and Jamar Taylor (6’0, 185), who will join the team in August.
At safety, the Broncos return two sophomores, Jeron Johnson (5’11, 191) and Jason Robinson (5’11, 200), who split time opposite Tadman last season. Both are scheduled to start this season. As freshmen, Johnson finished fifth on the team in tackles with 54 despite missing four games with an injury while Robinson was ninth on the team in tackles with 39 and second on the team with two interceptions.
Senior Ellis Powers (5’10, 200) returns to safety after moving to linebacker for his junior season. Powers was 10th on the team in tackles with 37 and had five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Behind Johnson, Robinson and Powers is a group of young guys with impressive potential. George Iloka (6’3, 202) enrolled at Boise State in January after graduating a semester early from high school. He was impressive during spring ball and could see extensive playing time as a true freshman. Redshirt freshman Cedric Febis (6’3, 192) is improving greatly despite his lack of football experience. He could make an impact in the safety rotation.
Redshirt freshmen Shaun Jordan (6’3, 205) and Travis Stanaway (5’11, 184) serve as backups at safety. Tyler Jackson (6’0, 185) will join the team in the fall after a stellar high school career in Colorado.
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