Senior Joe Martarano quit the team this spring to pursue a baseball career, and his departure left a gaping hole in the middle of the defense. All signs point to true sophomore Tyson Maeva stepping up and making the position his own. Maeva, listed at 6 foot and 221 pounds, played as a freshman last season and has more than enough talent to become a star for BSU. He recorded 21 tackles in 12 games. His growth and production will need to happen immediately for a seamless transition from Martarano.
Boise State also went out and got a late addition to the 2017 class in linebacker Joseph Inda
Also projected to play the middle linebacker position are two walk-ons; redshirt freshman Solo Taylor (Rigby, Idaho) and redshirt junior Joe Provenzano (Glendora, Calif.). The Broncos have recruited well in the last season and bring in Ezekiel Noa (La Mesa, Calif.) and Breydon Boyd (Katy, Texas). Riley Whimpey (San Clemente, Calif.), originally a member of the 2015 class before serving an LDS mission, will join the team this fall as well and can play both inside and outside.
With Martarano’s departure at an already-thin position, expect a few freshmen to see playing time this fall.
On the weak side, three players are listed on the roster in senior Blake Whitlock (Reno, Nev.), redshirt junior Leighton Vander Esch (Riggins, Idaho) and redshirt freshman Benton Wickersham (Elko, Nev.). Whitlock and Vander Esch played extensively last year, Whitlock earning a scholarship partway through the season. They will be the leaders of a linebacking group that lost four very productive players since the end of the 2016 season.
Three players are listed as strong side linebackers in redshirt sophomore Garrett Collingham, (Meridian, Idaho), freshman Clay Bowler (Holtville, Calif.) and Desmond Williams (Corona, Calif.). Williams is the most talented and heralded of the group and will see plenty of time on the field, likely at the nickel position. Incoming freshman Roman Kafentzis (Santa Ana, Calif.) played linebacker and safety in high school, but should fill the nickel role for the Broncos.
Many underclassmen will see time both during the spring and in the fall. Don’t be surprised if a number of true freshmen find their way onto the field as the season progresses.