Spring Ball Preview: The DLine

The defensive line has been the subject of plenty of speculation in recent years. In each of the past two years the uncertainty about the two-deep roster extended even into fall practice. My forecast is that this year the two-deep roster should be nearly established coming out of spring ball with likely only one new player added to the rotation before the first game in September.

The Bronco D-Line:

The Bad

Once again the Boise State Broncos are faced with major losses on the D-line. Starting DT's Paul Allen and Dane Oldham are gone. Part-time players Mike Fine and Maurice Sapp exit with them. Allen and Oldham, in particular, take with them 8 years of contribution to the defensive line, 69 tackles (9 for loss) in 2003, uncountable tackles steered to an active linebacker crew, enough bulk to officially qualify as an immovable object, and plenty of leadership by example. Only graduation was able to limit the contribution of these Broncos.

 

The Good

The defensive end position could easily be a Bronco strength for 2004 as both starters return. All-WAC DE Julius Roberts (6-5/250) returns for his senior year and another season chasing down opposing quarterbacks. Julius led D-linemen last season with 4 sacks and 8 tackles for loss. He also holds the D-line record for the 40 with a time of 4.75 so if any team plays him straight up in 2004, look for him to meet lots of quarterbacks close up. Mike Williams (6-3/240), who started as a redshirt freshman, looks to be a stalwart for the next three seasons. One of a growing cadre of Canadians on the roster, Mike was a solid contributor in 2003 with 28 total tackles including 4 for losses. He undoubtedly saw the ball come his way more often since many teams chose to avoid Julius Roberts on the other side. Sophomore Mike Dominguez (6-2/231), who missed 4 games with a broken hand in 2003, brings intensity to the outside rush. Dominguez recorded 5 tackles for losses including 2 sacks against Idaho State. Mike D also saw duty as the long snapper in 2003 before his injury. With these 3 experienced returnees, the Broncos look to be able to apply pressure from the edge more effectively than in recent years.


Julius Roberts


Mike Williams


Mike Dominguez

 

With Allen and Oldham graduated, filling the defensive tackle spots would seem to be a question mark. However a source close to the team suggests that Andrew Browning (5-11/258) and Alex Guerrero (6-1/279) will likely head the depth chart at DT heading into spring ball. Browning, a former walk-on from Lake Oswego, OR, was often the first substitute on the interior line in 2003. Guerrero surprised many fans by playing as a true freshman in 2002 and has split time at DT/DE. Likely he'll get much more time inside in 2004. While Browning and Guerrero don't have quite the combined bulk of Allen and Oldham, they'll have the advantage of one more year in the weight room with Pitt under their belts before the kickoff on September 4, 2004.


Andrew Browning


Alex Guerrero

 

With these 5 returning players, the Broncos should begin spring ball with one of their most experienced D-lines in years. Roberts, Williams, Dominguez, Browning, and Guerrero played in an average of 11 games each last season. They combined for 108 tackles with 25 of them for loss. Add in the fact that their 10 sacks represented seventy percent of the D-line sacks in 2003 and the common situation of the defensive coming together before the offense will likely repeat in the 2004 version of spring ball.

The Broncos can dramatically increase their size on the inside by adding sophomore Jeff Beidermann (6-4/295), RS freshman Ian Smart (6-3/300), and RS freshman Dan Gore (6-5/250 but rumored to be heavier now). Adding this size to the already experienced pair of Browning and Guerrero should provide Coach Bandison with enough options to keep the D-line fresh throughout the game. Walk-ons Russell Wiersma (6-2/267) and Erik Brunken (6-3/245) will no doubt also want to secure a spot in the Broncos customary 4-man rotation at defensive tackle. Wiersma was impressive enough during the fall to earn accolades from the staff as a scout team defensive player of the week.  Other players to watch for at the end positions include walkons Dustin Crea, (6'3 225), and Kyle Peterson, (6'1 235lbs).  Both redshirted last season.  Peterson, out of Eagle, ID, so impressed with his play that he was named the Scout team Defensive POTY.


Jeff Beidermann


Ian Smart


Dan Gore


Dustin Crea

 

The Promising


Tim Volk

Sophomore transfer Tim Volk (6-3/273) is probably the real wild card in the mix for fall, but unfortunately he will not be available for spring ball. Of the six D-line recruits, he is surely the one most likely to contribute immediately. Tim was name all-everything by virtually every organization or newspaper in his last 2 years at Notre Dame HS in Thousand Oaks, CA for a team that was a combined 21-2-1. Notably, he was named 2-time Mission League Most Valuable Lineman, All-CIF, LA Times First-Team Defense, and PrepStar Magazine West Region All-American. He originally enrolled at Arizona but was injured during his redshirt year and UA doctors would not clear him to play. Tim transferred to Moorpark College and played one year, thus making him a Sophomore with 3 years to play 3. The rumor is that Tim is coming in with the intention of playing and he could bring needed depth at DE. He is working out full-time down in California right now, and is said to be getting even faster, while still bulking up and getting even stronger, giving him the size and speed to play both positions, (DT/DE) like Guerrero. Don't expect Volk to be the average JC transfer when he steps foot on campus in the summer. With Roberts, Williams, and Dominguez, he would round out a solid 4-man rotation at DE. I look for Tim Volk to be one of the surprises of 2004.

The Broncos also appear to have insured D-line depth for several years to come with the remainder of the 2004 recruiting class. While none of these incoming freshman will be available for spring ball, along with Tim Volk, they are surely the deepest and most talented collection of D-line recruits in Bronco history.

Eagle HS product Nick Schlekeway (6-4/250) is eager to get started and is already taking a weight-lifting class at Boise State this semester. He was team captain, he is a 4.0 student, and he will graduate ranked number one in his class. Naturally he was named to the all-academic team in all three of his years at Eagle HS. He joins former Eagle Mustangs Sherm Blaser, Derek Schouman, Jon Helmandollar, and (hopefully) Donny Heck on the Bronco roster.

Joe Bozikovich (6-1/259) from Woodrow Wilson HS in Portland, Oregon is a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year in the tough Portland Interscholastic League. A two-way player, Joe was team captain and was also named all-league on the O-line.


Joe Bozikovich

Sean Bingham (6-3/232) from Reno HS in Reno, NV is another Bronco who was a team captain in high school. Sean was named athlete of the week after leading his team to a state championship and also was accorded all-state honors. If you are keeping track, that makes at least 3 former team captains in this recruiting class—just from the defensive line.  Bingham was called the "the top player from state champion Reno High" by CBSSportsline.com, heady praise considering Reno High also sent scholarship recruits to Arizona State and Fresno.

Phillip Edwards (6-4/282) from Cypress HS in Cypress, CA, is both the largest and likely the least experienced of the D-line recruits. It's not that he didn't play a lot, because he is a three-year letterman. Its just that he played O-line in 2003 (and earned All-Empire league honors) after having been named second-team all league on defense in 2002. Phillip is multi-talented, having been named MVP of the track and field team in high school as well as catching 10 passes at tight end. How many safeties are ready to take on a 282-pound tight end?


Phillip Edwards

Mike Williams (6-4/215) from Natomas HS in Sacramento, CA first signed with the Broncos in 2003 but did not enroll in school. This should indicate how highly thought of he is by the staff. He was first team all conference after his senior season and was the team's MVP on defense. Mike is physically gifted and also lettered 3 years in basketball. Speed off the edge will likely be the most notable contribution that Mike brings to the D-line. He will also necessitate the constant clarification for which ‘Mike Williams' since both will play the same position. Can you imagine the following introductions? Now for the starters at DE, on the left side we have Mike Williams and on the right side we have Mike Williams. Mike also has the notable distinction of having been announced as a starter and having his picture displayed on a game telecast before he even enrolled at Boise State. Once already, the television people confused Mike Williams (California) with Mike Williams (Canada).


Mike Williams

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