All Boise State fans are aware of Kyle Wilson, who is now starring with the New York Jets of the NFL. But the tradition of the Bronco secondary runs deep.
the national level, BoiseState's name has become synonymous with high octane
offenses, but no unit has delivered more players to Sunday than the secondary.
The defensive secondary is the last line of defense – only paydirt and glory
stand behind them. The proliferation
of spread and west coast offenses, four and five wide receiver sets, and
multiple tight end formations has put more pressure on defensive backs
(cornerbacks and safeties).While
the average fan might only notice the secondary for the wrong reasons – pass
interference penalties and long touchdown throws surrendered - Bronco fans have
long noticed this group due to decades of talent nearly impossible to condense
into the BroncoCountry 45-day countdown.
recent years, Bronco fans have enjoyed following 2010 NY Jets 1st
rounder Kyle Wilson lead three regular season undefeated squads.He started as a freshman against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, but many will remembered
either the crushing blitz on Andy Dalton in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl or his 71 yard
Pick-6 to humble the 2009 Vandals.Wilson followed a long tradition of Broncos in the secondary
making an impact in the return game, averaging 12.6 yards on 63 punt returns,
including a 79-yarder for a score against the 2008 Vandals.He of the dreadlocks was only the most recent installment of spectacular
defensive backs to grace The Blue.
roots of the return game tradition at Boise State extend at least to "The Riverboat
Gambler" himself.Rick Woods, who
patrolled The Blue while it was still green, earned his nickname due to an
aversion to fair catches, and went on to play with the Steelers and Buccaneers
in the NFL.Woods' two picks
against JacksonState in the 1980 semi-finals set up the epic win against Eastern Kentucky for the I-AA National Championship.
ultimate kick returner though was Chris Carr, whose career 19.8 yard punt return
and 25.9 yard kickoff return averages are 1st and 2nd
respectively all-time in Bronco history.
multiple talents of Bronco DB's aren't limited to defense and returns.In 1991, Frank Robinson stepped in to aid a beleaguered basketball squad.The 1991 1st team AP All-American and two-time All-Big Sky 1st
teamer also showed up on the big stage, with three picks against Northern Iowa in the playoffs.Robinson finished with 22 career interceptions (2nd) before
being a 5th round pick by the Denver Broncos.
demonstrating the contribution of Bronco defensive backs on special teams,
Orlando Scandrick made a career of scoring against Hawaii on kick blocks.In
2005, Scandrick returned a 3rd quarter Daryn Colledge FG block 69
yards for a TD, giving the Broncos their first lead that day in Honolulu.Then,
with to play and the Warriors lining up for a PAT to tie
the score at 42, Colledge struck again, and Scandrick scampered the length of
the field for 2 points and the 44-41 victory.It would only be a game, not a career against the Warriors, were it not
for Scandrick's scoop of a 2006 muffed PAT snap that he returned en route to
10 career special teams points against the players formerly known as Rainbows.Scandrick blocked four kicks in 2007 alone.The true freshman starter concluded his Bronco career after three years
by declaring for the 2008 NFL draft, where he was the 5th round
selection by the Dallas Cowboys.
some guys made their mark partially in unusual ways, Gerald Alexander certainly
made his in spectacular fashion.His
blast on Utah running back Darryl Poston, knocking the Ute's
helmet off and mouthpiece out was a precursor to the shutdown defense he
rendered on the Oklahoma running game.Alexander
demonstrated typical Bronco versatility by starting at cornerback for a couple
years (including 2005 when he lead the team with five interceptions) then moving
to safety, the position that made him the 61st pick in the 2007 NFL
Draft by the Detroit Lions.
glory is often associated with ballhawking, and to find the greatest ballhawk of
them all you have to go back to the late ‘60s.Bronco great Steve Forrey still holds the all-time record for
interceptions in a career (24), season (12, 1968) and game (4, Idaho State,
1968).While glory begins with
getting possession of the ball, it's often immortalized with the Pick-6, and
none went longer than Tasi Autele's 1993 score at Montana that went 99 yards.If Autele's was the longest, perhaps the biggest was Marty Tadman's
27-yarder off a Korey Hall tip that extended the 2007 Fiesta Bowl lead to 28-10.Tadman also registered the 2nd longest Pick-6, a 98 yarder
against La Tech in 2006 and his career concluded with a stunning Strip-6 – the
47 yard fumble return to tie the 2007 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl at 38 with to play.
course, the first role of any defender is to stop the ball, and NFL Pro Bowler
Quintin Mikell finished 2nd in Bronco history with 401 tackles,
including 30 for loss (12th all-time).Other great tacklers include Kenny Kuehl (332, 8th) and Wes Nurse (294, 14th).
discussion of the Secondary can be complete without mention of
·Dempsey Dees -
Broncos all-time leader in Rose Bowl interceptions
- 80 yard Pick-6 in the 34-31 H-Bowl victory over Louisville
- 92 yard punt returns versus BostonCollege and Hawaii (1st & 1st)
others who valiantly defended Bronco paydirt from the forces of evil
2010 secondary will surely be a unit to watch.It features returning starters Brandyn Thompson, who got it all started
in Fiesta Bowl2, Winston Venable, who stuffs the run and snuffed the candle
against TCU, Jeron Johnson, who didn't earn the nickname Hitman for his
friendly demeanor, and George Iloka, who has played in every game since he
stepped on campus.They'll be
joined by a wealth of additional talent vying to be immortalized as Bronco
bobble heads of the future.