Lethal Linebackers

BroncoCountry has now chosen 16 greats to be on its All-Time Bronco football team. 11 more are still to be chosen, and the difficult task at hand is to select which Boise State linebackers will be on that team. There are literally scores of great Bronco linebackers to choose from. They have anchored tough Boise State defenses since the late 60's. Read through the article, and then please vote in the polls on the Blue Turf page.

Steve Svitak (1968-1969) was selected to the All-American team by the Associated Press in 1969. He was part of a Bronco defense under Coach Tony Knap that allowed just 176.5 yards per game (#1 in Bronco history) and 10.5 points per game in 1969 (the best ever in Bronco history) and only 12.4 points per contest in 1968 (3rd best all-time). That 1969 defense allowed just 40 yards per game on the ground. In 1968, they allowed just 77 yards rushing per game. During his years at Boise State, Steve and the Broncos were 17-3. Svitak was drafted in the 7th round of the NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders.

Steve Vogel (1970-1971) was an All-Big Sky 1st team selection in 1971. Vogel's Bronco defense allowed just 248.5 yards and 11.7 points per game in 1970, both 2nd all-time in the Boise State record books. Vogel and the Broncos were 18-5, winners of the 1971 Big Sky Championship and the Camelia Bowl. Steve was a 9th round pick of the NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills.

Loren Schmidt (1970-1974) was an Honorable Mention pick by the AP in 1974, when he was also on the All-Big Sky team. Schmidt and the Broncos held opponents to 278 yards total offense in 1973, the 5th best performance by a Bronco "D" in that category. In two years as a starter, Schmidt and the Broncos were 20-5, 12-0 in the Big Sky, 2 league championships, a Division 2 semifinalist in 1973 and a quarterfinalist in 1974.

Gary Gorrell (1972-1975) was Honorable Mention All-American in 1975 as well as an All-Big Sky selection. His blocked punt and return for a touchdown beat Idaho State in 1975. The Broncos were Big Sky champions all three years that Gorrell played a key role on the Boise State defense, going 29-7-1 during that period and reaching the semifinals in 1973 and quarterfinals in 1974. In 1976, Gorrell was drafted in the 16th round of the NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills.

Ron Davis (1973-1974) made the 1st team All-Big Sky in 1974. Davis made 120 tackles in 1973, tied for 15th on the all-time list. Davis was an anchor on that 1973 defense that held opponents to 278 yards total offense. Boise State won two consecutive Big Sky championships in Davis' years, getting as far as the Division 2 semifinals against Louisiana Tech in 1973 and making the quarterfinals the following year.

Larry Polowski (1975-1978) was Honorable Mention All-American in 1978 and All-Big Sky as well. Boise State was 21-11-1 in the three years that "Po" starred on the defense, winning the Big Sky in 1977. Polowski, now a Boise State television commentator, was drafted in the 7th round of the NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

Dan Williams (1977-1980) is 12th in career tackles with 296 and 2nd on the single-season tackles list with 160, done in 1980. That same year, Williams was chosen 1st team All-Big Sky. Williams and the Broncos held opponents to just 12.7 points per game in 1979, the 4th best ever. Boise State was 27-8 overall and 16-4 in the Big Sky behind Williams, who helped the Broncos win the I-AA National Championship in 1980.

Bob Macauley (1977-1978) nailed 135 ball carriers in 1978, 8th on the Bronco list. He also had 120 the previous year, which is tied for 15th. Macauley made the All-Big Sky team in 1978 and was a 2nd team All-American. Macauley and the Broncos were 16-6 in his two years, winning the Big Sky in '77.

Willie Beamon (1977-1978) had 125 tackles in 1978, 13th on the all-time list. Beamon, a transfer from UCLA, made the All-Big Sky team in 1977. The big guy helped the Broncos to a 16-6 record in his two years at Boise State, capturing the Big Sky title in 1977. Beamon was drafted in the 9th round of the NFL draft by the New York Jets.

Ray Santucci (1978-1981) is 5th in career tackles with 333 and 3rd in single-season tackles with 141—Ray achieved that in 1979. Not coincidentally, that was the year Boise State held opponents to 12.7 points per game. Ray was a key cog during one of Boise State's most successful three-year runs in its history, going 30-7 from 1979-1981, winning the Big Sky and National Championship in 1980 and playing their way into the I-AA Semifinals in 1981.

Curt Hecker (1979-1982) is 5th for the most tackles in a season with 139 (1981). In his two years as a key contributor for the Broncos, Hecker helped his team to an 18-6 record.

Ralph Esposito (1979-1980) was All-Big Sky and Honorable Mention All-American in 1979, another of the key reasons for that 12.7 points per game that the Bronco "D" was responsible for. Esposito and the Broncos were 20-4 overall and 13-1 in the Big Sky in his two years here, winning the I-AA National Championship in 1980.

Bob Skinner (1980-1982) was an All-Big Sky pick in 1982. Skinner was a force all three years at Boise State, when the team's record was 28-9, with a National Championship in 1980 and a Semifinal appearance in 1981.

John Rade (1981-1982) is 2nd in Bronco history for the most tackles for loss in a season (31), set in 1982. He was 2nd Team All-American in 1981 and 1st team in 1982. Rade also made the All-Big Sky team in both 1981 and 1982. John and the Broncos were 18-6 during his two years here, as Boise State fell just short of making a return trip to the I-AA National Championship game in 1981, losing 24-17 to Eastern Kentucky in the Semifinals. Rade was drafted in the 8th round of the NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, where he played for several seasons. Rade led the Falcons in tackles in 1987 with 123.

Bryan Johnson (1996-1999) had 14 tackles for loss in 1999, placing him in a tie for 10th. Johnson was named All-Big West in '99. Bryan was signed in 2000 by the Washington Redskins as a fullback, where he played before being traded to the Chicago Bears last season.

Carl Keever (1982-1984) transferred to Boise State from Oregon State and in three years, all Keever accomplished was finishing 3rd all-time in career tackles with 397 and 7th in single season-tackles with 136, set in 1982. The following year, he had another 130, which is 12th on the all-time list and in 1984, another 131, good for 10th. Keever is also 2nd on the single-game tackle list with 24 against Idaho. Carl was an All-American in 1982 and 1984 and Honorable Mention All-American in 1983 and was one of a handful of players to earn All-Big Sky honors in three seasons. Boise State was 20-13 under Coach Lyle Setencich during Keever's years at Boise State.

Jim Ellis (1983-1986) is 8th in the Bronco record books for tackles with 331. He also had 120 tackles in 1985, tied for 15th in that department. Ellis was an All-Big Sky and Honorable Mention All-American in 1986. Ellis and the Broncos held opposing offenses to 269.3 yards a game, the 4th best total in Bronco history, and only 80 yards on the ground, the 3rd best in that category. Boise State was 18-15 in the three years that Ellis was a key contributor. Ellis was drafted in the 10th round of the NFL draft by the Los Angeles Raiders. Jim later became a pro heavyweight boxer, and once fought George Foreman.

Rex Walters (1985-1986) was an All-Big Sky and Honorable Mention All-American in 1986. Walters was another factor for the great performance by the 1986 Bronco defense. Boise State was 12-10 during Walters' short two-year stay at Boise State.

Mark Williams (1986-1987) is 6th in single-season tackles with 138, recorded in 1987. Williams also played a key role in holding opponents to 80 yards rushing and 269.3 yards total offense per game in 1986. Despite this, the Broncos were 11-11 in Williams' two years at Boise State.

Scott Russell (1987-1990) is the all-time leader for career tackles (415) and tackles in a season with 164, achieved in 1988. In 1990, he had another 131, tied for 10th in the Bronco record books. Scott is 8th on the Bronco list for career tackles for loss with 31. Note: Only 1982 counted in Rade's statistics. Russell set the single-game record with an amazing 28-tackle performance against Northern Arizona in 1988. Scott was Honorable Mention All-American in 1988. In 1989, the Broncos held opposing rushers to just 86 yards a game. Russell and the Broncos held opponents to just 12.8 points a contest in 1990, good for 5th all-time. Boise State was 24-13 under Coach Skip Hall during Russell's dominating years here. They reached the I-AA playoffs in 1988, then made it to the Semifinals in 1990 when they lost a thrilling 3-overtime game to Nevada 59-52.

Kenny Kuehl (1987-1990) was All-Big Sky in 1989. Kuehl was another member of that Bronco squad that held opponents to 86 yards rushing in 1989 and only 12.8 points a game in 1990. The two years that he was a key factor, the Broncos were 16-9, including that trip to the I-AA Semifinals in 1990.

Tim O'Connor (1987-1990) is 11th in career tackles with 316. O'Connor also contributed mightily to those stout 1989 and 1990 defenses.

Matt McLaughlin (1989-1992) is 9th in career tackles with 327. Matt is also 14th on the single-season tackles list with 122 tackles in 1991. Matt was chosen all-Big Sky in 1991, the same year Boise State held opponents to 84 yards per game on the ground. Boise State was 22-14 during Matt's three key years on the Bronco defense.

Scott Monk (1990-1993) is 4th in single-season tackles with 140, recorded in 1992.

Brian Smith (1992-1995) is tied for tied for 5th in career tackles with 333. He is also 9th in career sacks with 12.5. (Note: None of Rade's statistics figure in to this category since official stats have been kept since 1987.) Smith helped the Broncos to the I-AA runner-up position in 1994, when Boise State went 13-2 and won the Big Sky Championship.

Stefan Reid (1993-1994) was drafted in the 1st round of the CFL draft by the Ottawa RoughRiders where he played for several seasons before going to the Montreal Allouettes.

Andy Avalos (2001-2004) finished his stellar Bronco career 4th in career tackles with 355. He was All-WAC in 2003 and 2004. Avalos was a key player during the best four-year period in Bronco history. Boise State went 44-7 during this time, with three straight WAC Championships and 3 perfect league seasons. Avalos and the Broncos joined the nation's elite, defeating #8 Fresno State in 2001, advancing to the top 15 in the Coaches' poll in 2002 and 2003 before making a serious run at a BCS Bowl in 2004 (getting as high as #7 at one point) and being ranked in the national top ten in both the Coaches' and Associated Press polls. The Broncos won the Humanitarian Bowl with their first ever win over a "BCS" school, Iowa State, in 2002, followed that up with a Fort Worth Bowl win over TCU in 2003, won their first game over a PAC-10 school, Oregon State, in 2004 and played in the Liberty Bowl later that year.


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