There won't be many questions surrounding the Boise State secondary in 2010 as the Broncos return all but one player to an outstanding defensive backfield from 2009. Despite the departure of first-round NFL draft pick Kyle Wilson, Boise State has reloaded at cornerback and will also be extremely deep at the safety and nickel positions.
Leading the way on the corner will be senior Brandyn Thompson (5-10, 180), who is a third year starter for the Broncos. Thompson finished the season sixth on the team in tackles (45) as a junior, while also leading the way with six interceptions. Thompson showed his game changing ability during the Fiesta Bowl, when he grabbed two interceptions including one that he returned 51 yards for a touchdown. For his outstanding performance in the bowl game, Thompson was named 2010 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP.
Junior Antwon Murray (5-11, 179) will likely be the player providing backup for Thompson despite seeing limited action in 2009. Murray played in just six games last season, where he recorded two tackles.
The starting spot opposite Thompson should provide another interesting competition throughout the fall as there appears to be no clear cut favorite to replace Wilson at the other corner position. Sophomore Jamar Taylor (5-11, 192) looked impressive during the spring as he returned from a 2009 season that he was forced to redshirt due to injury. Taylor will be battling with junior Jerrell Gavins (5-9, 178), who is coming off a solid first season with the Broncos. After transferring to Boise State at the start of the 2009 season, Gavins began to make an immediate impact as a reserve cornerback. He finished the year with 31 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and four pass breakups. One of his biggest contributions of last season came in the Fiesta Bowl, however, as he was called upon to start as a third defensive back when the Broncos changed their defensive scheme for the bowl game.
Anchoring the back of the Boise State secondary will be a trio of upperclassmen that were staples in the Bronco defense in 2009. At safety the Broncos return a pair of starters with senior Jeron Johnson (5-11, 195) and junior George Iloka (6-3, 207). Johnson was the team's leading tackler (98) as a junior en route to earning second team All-WAC honors. Along with his hard hitting reputation, Johnson also proved to be a ball hawk as he grabbed four interceptions and recorded six pass breakups on the year.
Iloka enjoyed a great 2009 season playing opposite Johnson as he finished the year with 48 tackles. Iloka also recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception and five pass breakups. He started all 14 games for the Broncos as a sophomore.
Expected to compete for the most reserve playing time at safety will be juniors Travis Stanaway (5-11, 193) and Cedric Febis (6-3, 198). Stanaway recorded 20 tackles last season having played in 12 games. Febis, who saw action in all 14 games last year, finished 2009 with 23 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Rounding out the Boise State secondary is one of the most dynamic positions on the field; the nickel position. The Broncos return second team All-WAC senior Winston Venable (5-11, 218), who made a huge impact in his first year after transferring to Boise State in the spring of 2009. Venable started all 14 games at nickel for the Broncos last season and finished third on the team in tackles (63). He recorded 8.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions.
Looking to compete with Venable for playing time at nickel will be junior Hunter White (5-11, 219), who was moved from linebacker to nickel in the spring. White was a major contributor in the Bronco linebacker corps last season, seeing action in all 14 games. He finished the year with 37 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and one interception.
Offensive Line Preview
Defensive Line Preview
Tight Ends Preview