Defense was vital in Boise State's run to a second Fiesta Bowl title, which all started with a breakout year by the Bronco defensive line. The d-line returns all four starters from their punishing front unit, which gives reason to be excited for even better things in 2010.
The Bronco defensive ends will boast a trio of players who were key contributors to the defense in 2009. Boise State is led by senior Ryan Winterswyk (6-4, 267) who earned first team All-WAC honors for the second straight season after a dominating performance as a junior. Winterswyk finished the year with 41 tackles, while leading the team in tackles for loss (17.0) and sacks (9.0). He also recorded six quarterback hurries, recovered two fumbles and blocked one kick. Providing back up for Winterswyk will be junior Jarrell Root (6-3, 259), who also made big contributions in 2009. Root finished his sophomore season with 11 tackles, having played in all 14 games.
On the other side of the line at defensive end, junior Shea McClellin (6-3, 258) is expected to get the nod opposite Winterswyk. After missing the first game of the year in 2009 McClellin worked his way into the starting spot in the third week of the season. He went on to start 11 games for the Broncos; recording 36 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Freshman Kharyee Marshall (6-1, 212) is expected to make a big push for McClellin's backup role after redshirting last fall.
The interior of the Boise State defensive line will be made up of a great combination of speed and power. The Broncos return both starting tackles in juniors Billy Winn (6-4, 290) and Chase Baker (6-1, 300). The duo proved to be both run stoppers and pass rushers as sophomores, which they hope will carry over again to this fall.
Winn enjoyed an outstanding sophomore campaign which culminated with being named second team All-WAC. He finished the season with 44 tackles, while ranking second on the team in tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (6.0). Winn started all 14 games at tackle in 2009. Battling for playing time behind Winn will be sophomore Michael Atkinson (6-0, 335) and junior Chuck Hayes (6-2, 292). Atkinson played in nine games as a freshman and recorded nine tackles including 1.0 for loss. Hayes saw action in just three games last year before suffering a season ending injury. He did record four tackles before his year ended.
Baker will occupy the other defensive tackle position for Boise State after also starting all 14 games for the Broncos as a sophomore. Baker recorded 37 tackles in 2009, to go along with 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Sophomore Greg Grimes (6-0, 273) and junior J.P. Nisby (6-1, 314) are expected to battle for playing time behind Baker. Grimes record three tackles in four games as a freshman. Nisby saw action in 10 games last year, where he tallied 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Offensive Line Preview