Boise State's Own Fearsome Foursome

Although Boise State will be without two of its top four defensive tackles for the first three games of the season, Bronco coaches are confident because of depth heretofore not seen in Boise. The Broncos fully expect this unit to be aggressive, dominant and dependable this fall.

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 Boise State as the defensive line coach for him to make his imprint on the style of play.  These guys will flat get after it this fall.  They are big, quick, mean, tough and relentless.  

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.  Hout chose Boise State over Washington and interest from Oregon and Washington State .  

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 Oregon last year.  He has greatly impressed coaches with his intensity and work ethic and will see plenty of time at defensive end as well.  

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 Las Vegas on a two-time state championship team.  He had double digit offers and selected Boise State over Arizona State , Oregon , Oregon State , Texas Tech, UNLV and Washington State among others.  Winn possesses great strength and an uncanny ability to fight off blocks to make the play.  He is the player at tackle that Bronco fans have been wanting for years.  Winn has single-handedly forced offenses to change their schemes.  Yet they still have not found ways to block him.  As he continues to get bigger and gain experience, Winn will develop into a great defensive tackle.  

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 ( Stockton , California ) alum Doug Martin on the Broncos.  

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 Canada prior to coming to Boise State , with three forced fumbles, four recoveries, 7.5 sacks, and an unbelievable seven blocked kicks.  Oh and he also ran the ball for 725 yards and 13 touchdowns.  So his challenge is not his performance on the football field but off of it.  Atkinson will miss the highly-anticipated battle with the nationally-ranked Oregon Ducks and will be out through the key battle with WAC rival Fresno State .  If Atkinson has learned his lesson, he will be a valuable contributor.  

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:  

Defensive Ends:  

Kharyee Marshall (6-1, 207, Fr.) runs a 4.6 40 and has a 35-inch vertical jump.  He chose Boise State over offers from Utah , UTEP and Nevada among others.  "It's the place to be right now," he said. "It's a good environment, a good education, and a good program," Marshall said of Boise State. Marshall had 300 tackles, 32 sacks, three interceptions, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, a blocked punt and a blocked field goal in his career at Washington High School in Phoenix .  

Nick Alexander (6-4, 237, Fr.) was a 1st Team All- Los Angeles player and is the grandson of NFL Hall of Famer Carl Eller of the Minnesota Vikings "Purple People Eaters".  

Zach Gholson (6-2, 248, Fr.) was an All-North Country selection at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad , California .  


Defensive Tackles:  

Justin Jungblut (6-4, 241, Fr.) chose Boise State over Air Force, Oregon State , Utah and Wyoming among others.  Jungblut's Saguaro High School in Scottsdale , Arizona has become a national power and Justin helped them win 40 of 41 games and win four consecutive state championships.  He had 72 tackles his senior year, 23 for loss, 12 sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.  Jungblut has a 30-inch vertical jump, has 4.99 speed and presses 315.  He has great quickness and ability to plug up holes and make the play himself.  Jungblut is a sack machine.  He has been working hard in the weight room and become friends with the rest of the team.  Jungblut had this to say about the 2009 Bronco defense:  "We play fast. We're ready to go play fast, hard, and hit you in the mouth."  

Greg Grimes (6-0, 271, Fr.) chose Boise State over interest from Arizona State , Oregon , Washington and Oregon State .  He had 94 tackles as a high school senior with six forced fumbles and five sacks.  Grimes was named to the Sacramento Bee All-Metro team.  He benches 315 and gets off the ball quickly. Bronco fans were hoping Grimes could make a big contribution this year, but that will have to wait--he could be out 4-6 weeks with a leg injury.  

Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (6-3, 282, Fr.) was an All-State player after just one year at Boise High School .  He has a great first step, unbelievable footwork and a relentless pursuit to the ball carrier.  It is tempting to play Tjong-A-Tjoe as a true freshman because who knows what this defense could accomplish with him on the line?  He's still learning!  Tjong-A-Tjoe chose the Broncos over offers from Oregon , Washington State and others.  

Darren Koontz (6-3, 254, Fr.) redshirted last year and is ready to show what he can do.  He is the latest from Los Alamitos High School to come to Boise (following Orlando Scandrick and Jeremy Childs).  Koontz switched to defensive tackle his senior year and was not only chosen All-Conference but was selected to play in the California All-Star game.  With the loss of Atkinson and Grimes for the first part of the year, Koontz will play an increased role on the Bronco line, a great opportunity for Darren. He chose Chris Petersen's team over an offer from Air Force and interest from Oregon , Oregon State, Washington State and Arizona .  

Matt Paradis (6-1, 275, Fr.) from Council, the Idaho 1-A Player of the Year who had 79 tackles and 10 sacks in eight games.

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. 



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