In producing the best record in the country over the last
10 years, Boise State did it with an outstanding offensive line, playmakers
galore on offense, great special teams, quick, hard-hitting linebackers and
athletic defensive backs.
The one piece of the puzzle that was missing was playmakers
on the defensive front. They held
their own, to be sure, and did their job in plugging holes so the linebackers
could come up and make the plays. But
to climb to the next level, the Broncos needed to have lines reminiscent of the
"fearsome foursome" mentality.
They have one now.
The Broncos are loaded with playmakers on the front four in
2009. Although the secondary (to be
featured in two days on BroncoCountry) is getting mentioned as one of the best
in the nation, it is the d-line that will make or break the Broncos this season.
Pete Kwiatkowski was a menace in his day, and it didn't
take long after coming to
Talk about the unit has to start with All-Western Athletic
Conference defensive end Ryan Winterswyk (6-4, 263, Jr.).
He exploded last season….Now the pertinent question is:
How good can he be, especially with considerable talent around him?
Winterswyk, who runs a 4.68 40, was named to the Lott Trophy Preseason
Watch List after his production last year. Not
one to rest on his laurels, Ryan has been intensely watching film to find areas
in which he can improve. That's
scary for the opposition.
Sophomores Byron Hout (6-0, 241) and Jarrell Root (6-3,
259) are so good that they will both see plenty of action at the other bookend.
Two-time Idaho Player of the Year Hout wowed fans all year and his
62-yard return of an interception against TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl was an
all-time highlight. He had 27
tackles, six for loss, with four sacks and a pass deflection last season in
addition to that amazing interception return.
Hout has a sixth sense that allows him to read the play and react—there
aren't too many better in that regard. He
still needs to gain some size but he has all the tools of a great one.
Root, the 2007 defensive Scout Team Player of the Year,
missed most of last season with an injury so he is chomping at the bit.
Before he went down, Root had nine tackles, 2.5 of them for loss.
He is another player with tremendous talent, a great work ethic, and
instincts that can create turnovers for the Bronco defense.
Shea McClellin (6-3, 262, So.) had 14 tackles, one for
loss, with a sack and a blocked field goal against
Chase Baker (6-1, 296, So.) was all the talk of spring
practice—pencil him in at one defensive tackle spot.
He has developed a nastiness that Kwiatkowski likes to see, an attitude
that is contagious to the entire Bronco defense.
He worked on conditioning in the winter and has been a quick learner as to
what is expected of him.
Billy Winn (6-4, 288, So.) was a Freshman All-American last
season and will be better this fall. Winn
was All-State in
J.P. Nisby (6-1, 305, So.) played mostly offensive guard in
high school and was an All-California selection.
He analyzes every play and is a perfectionist, constantly striving to do
better. Nisby benches 435 and will
be a force for the Broncos this fall. Notre
Dame, Miami of Florida, Arizona, Oregon, California, UCLA all expressed interest
in Nisby. Nisby joined fellow St.
Mary's High School (
Michael Atkinson (6-0, 332, Fr.) was expected to contend
for a starting role after a great spring but made a poor decision last month and
is on a three-game suspension. Atkinson
recorded 78 tackles in
Those are the main players on the defensive front this
fall. But what distinguishes this
group is depth like never before on the defensive line:
Kharyee Marshall (6-1, 207, Fr.) runs a 4.6 40 and has a
35-inch vertical jump. He chose
Nick Alexander (6-4, 237, Fr.) was a 1st Team
Zach Gholson (6-2, 248, Fr.) was an All-North Country
selection at La Costa Canyon High School in
Justin Jungblut (6-4, 241, Fr.) chose
Greg Grimes (6-0, 271, Fr.) chose
Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (6-3, 282, Fr.) was an All-State player
after just one year at
Darren Koontz (6-3, 254, Fr.) redshirted last year and is
ready to show what he can do. He is
the latest from
Matt Paradis (6-1, 275, Fr.) from Council, the
It will be thrilling to watch these monsters over the next few seasons. Collectively, they are without question the best defensive line ever to play at Boise State. There are multiple NFL players in this group. Frankly, it is what the Broncos have needed for some time; guys that can make the plays themselves at the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis. Their play will only make the Bronco defense better, freeing up the linebackers and secondary to focus on their assignments with full confidence that the men up front will do the job.