2004 Spotlight: The Front Seven

We're getting geared up for the 2004 season, and to get things jump started we've taken a look at the team we expect to see back next fall. Here's a quick look at the Vandal defensive front.

As we look forward to the start of the Holt era in 2004, we thought we'd take a few minutes to look at the team we EXPECT to see coming back this spring. Obviously, these are college-aged guys and anything can happen between now, the Spring Game, and the start of the 2004 season next fall. But, we hope to see them all back none-the-less.

It's also the height of the recruiting season right now, and we wanted to take a look at where we think Idaho will have the biggest needs in 2004. We started our digging with the Vandal front 7 (defensive tackles, defensive ends, and linebacker), and came away realizing that the unit actually has quite a bit of youth, and depth, throughout the chart (particularly at linebacker). It will be interesting to see how the new staff molds this group for next year and in the future.

But for now, you are the arm chair head coach. What are Idaho's biggest needs going into 2004? What position needs help from the JC ranks, and which one should remain focused on High School prospects only? Who will emerge among defensive linemen and linebackers as leaders next fall? Who is the diamond in the rough prospect not listed below?

Let us know!

(NOTE: For the sake of looking ahead to next season, ALL PLAYERS ARE LISTED BY THEIR 2004 CLASS. For instance, this year linebacker Chad Pool was a true freshman, but he's listed in our 2004 Projected Depth Chart as a sophomore for next season).

DISCLAIMER: With next year being the first for Holt and crew, we have no idea what he has planned for the team and recruiting. Players shown in the charts could be moved, and his list of recruits is by far larger than what we have below. But, its an interesting look at the guys we think are coming back, and it is always interesting to speculate about who we are recruiting. Bottom line: Its ALL just speculation right now.



VandalVenue.com Image
Andrew Stobart
6-3, 268, So

Recruited as a fullback and defensive end, Andrew hit the weights and worked his way into the starting rotation at Defensive Tackle in 2003.


DEFENSIVE TACKLES
OVERVIEW: Idaho must replace departed senior Brian Howard (who had a solid 2003 season and a non-stop motor while earning All-Conference honors), and will look to 4 returners to fill the void. Idaho was particularly young and inexperienced up-front in 2003, as a junior, 2 sophomores, and a RS-Freshman played significantly all season.

If all 4 return, then Idaho may actually be a little better equipped with depth in 2004. Returning is 9 game starter Kelly Talavou (6-2, 324, Jr), plus 3 game starter Andrew Stobart (6-3, 268, So). Talavou has been a force since starting as a true freshman in 2002. Stobart, as a RS-Fr last year, appeared in 10 games and showed substantial improvement as the season progressed (he also spent significant time in the weightroom, adding 25 pounds to his frame during his redshirt year). But depth is particularly key for the DTs, and a solid rotation is critical to keep the players as healthy as possible all season long. Expected back is senior Michael Togafau (who switched back to the DL after spending 2.5 years on the OL), and junior Jeff Edwards. Both will push Talavou and Stobart for starting duties.

Combined this group did a much improved job of getting to the QB and applying pressure in 2003 than in previous years. Now the group must improve their ability to clog lanes and stop the run, while continuing to improve their pass rushing skills. The change in defensive philosophy could have an immediate effect this group's overall improvement.

CONCERNS: Youth and inexperience in depth chart. Behind Kelly and Andrew the unit has 27 tackles combined, although both Togafau and Edwards played solid minutes in 7 games each. Depth and durability is always a factor for the interior defensive line, and Idaho may look the JC route to fill-in.

WILD-CARD(S): Eric Davis. The JC transfer came to Idaho last summer as a defensive end and redshirted the 2003 season. Excellent height and All-Conference performer in JC, he could be a factor in the 2004 rotation as he's reportedly moving inside to the tackle position.

Recruiting PROSPECTS:
Below are prospects from around the region that we've been made aware of from a variety of sources. Some have been contacted by Idaho, some have not. This is NOT a complete list, so expect Holt and his staff to be looking at a much larger group of players, and searching for several "diamonds in the rough." The prospects shown below are listed in alphabetical order.

    Joe Bozikovich, 6-2, 265 (Portland, OR)
    Chris Holsclaw, 6-2, 275 (Parma, ID)
    Antonio Lindsey, 6-2, 285 (Federal Way, WA)
    Mike Mayer, 6-5, 275 (Snohomish, WA)
    Jake Owens, 6-1, 250 (Tumwater, WA)
    Geoff Robinson, 6-2, 275 (Seattle, WA)
    Clarence Tuioti-Mariner, 5-11, 297 (Corona, CA)
    Jabari Watkins, 6-5, 310 (Kent, WA)


Defensive Tackles
Projected Returning Depth-Chart
(Listed by 2003 stats)

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. 2003 Stats
Kelly Talavou 6-2 324 Jr GS=9, GP=10, 32 TKL, 4 TFL, 1 Sack
Andrew Stobart 6-3 268 So GS=3, GP=10, 26 TKL, 6 TFL, 3 Sacks
Michael Togafau 6-3 291 Sr GS=0, GP=7, 19 TKL, 3 TFL, 1 Sack
Jeff Edwards 6-3 262 Jr GS=0, GP=7, 8 TKL, 3 TFL, 1 Sack
Eric Davis 6-5 240 Jr Redshirted
Salvador Salinas 5-9 223 RS-Fr Walk-On, Redshirted




AP Photo
Brandon Kania
6-3, 241, Sr

Started 12 games in 2003, 8 in 2002, and 8 in 2001 when he was voted to The Sporting News Freshman All-American Team.


DEFENSIVE END
OVERVIEW: Razor thin depth. Senior Brandon Kania, a 12 game starter in 2003, had 3 times as many tackles last season as the rest of the depth chart combined. Juniors Mike Bonelli and Tim Bertalot both saw more experience as the season wore on, but they are the only players in the chart with any 1-A experience.

CONCERNS: Brandon is a known quantity with tons of experience. The starter opposite Brandon will possibly not have a single 1-A start for Idaho under his belt. Bertalot moved to DE from LB last year, and against UL-M had an outstanding game. Bonelli was a huge prospect coming out of St. Bonaventure HS who played in 11 games last year. Idaho will be counting on both B's to step up big time in 2004.

WILD-CARD(S): Mike Anderson. Idaho's #1 tackler in 2003 (also led the Conference in tackles while splitting starting duties at MLB and SLB) may be moved up to DE from his linebacker post, after the move was experimented with over the last 3 weeks of last season. The experiment resulted in a significant drop-off in tackles per game for Mike, but his size and speed could add a dimension coming off the edge. Ernest Davis. JC Transfer joined Idaho last summer and redshirted. Has outstanding size (6-6), and was a 2-time All Conference honoree at JC. The Redshirts. Aizpitarte has good size, and may get moved inside (ala Edwards and Stobart). Jasper, a walk-on out of Lewiston, has excellent speed.

Recruiting PROSPECTS:
Below are prospects from around the region that we've been made aware of from a variety of sources. Some have been contacted by Idaho, some have not. This is NOT a complete list, so expect Holt and his staff to be looking at a much larger group of players, and searching for several "diamonds in the rough." The prospects shown below are listed in alphabetical order.

    Spencer Hill, 6-3, 240 (Portland, OR)
    Max Morrow, 6-5, 265 (Wilsonville, OR)
    Craig Mettler, 6-4, 240 (Walla Walla, WA)
    Carl Roeller, 6-2, 225 (Coeur d'Alene, ID)
    Brent Rushin, 6-3, 240 (Kennewick, WA)


Defensive Ends
Projected Returning Depth-Chart
(Listed by 2003 stats)

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. 2003 Stats
Brandon Kania 6-3 241 Sr GS=12, 59 TKL, 8 TFL, 2 Sacks
Mike Bonelli 6-2 236 Jr GS=0, GP=11, 15 TKL, 1 QBH
Tim Bertalot 6-3 251 Jr GS=0, GP=5, 6 TKL, 2 TFL, 2 Sacks
James Coley 6-2 246 Jr JC Transfer, No Data
Ernest Davis 6-6 230 Jr JC Transfer, Redshirted
Dan Aizpitarte 6-3 240 RS-Fr Redshirted
Stevenson Gion 6-1 222 RS-Fr Walk-on, Redshirted
Chris Jasper 6-2 233 RS-Fr Walk-on, Redshirted




VandalVenue.com Photo
Mike Anderson
6-4, 238, Jr

Mike started 12 games in 2003 as a RS-So and was the team's #1 tackler.


LINEBACKERS
OVERVIEW: The heart and soul of the Idaho defense. The group is deep and extremely versatile. Leading the charge is junior Mike Anderson (assuming he isn't moved to DE), who has the size and strength to excell at middle linebacker, and the speed and athleticism to start at outside linebacker. Behind Mike is a depth chart full of athletes that has stepped up to the challenge in a big way. Probably the most impressive of the youngsters was last year's true freshman Chad Pool, who started 7 games at safety before moving up to MLB where he started 4 games, ending the year the team's #2 tackler. Nate Nichols, Curtis Bibolet, and then-RS-Fr Robert Davis all made the move up from safety to linebacker, and all played well in 2003. Add to the mix former walk-on middle linebacker Cole Snyder who didn't start, but played extensively all season, and you have a unit that should continue to get stronger in 2004 when the redshirted freshmen jump into the mix.

CONCERNS: Seniors Libey and Kodama will be need to be replaced, but this entire unit played significantly in 2004. If Anderson is moved to DE, and / or if Chad Pool is moved back to safety, starting experience will be a concern.

WILD-CARD(S): Jaron Williams. Jaron is an athletic prospect out of LA's Muir High School who missed all of 2003. Should add an interesting mix to the inside linebacking chart in 2004. Josh Bousman and Sam Tossie: The Redshirts. Two prospects who bring different aspects to the linebacking corp. Josh is a rocket who we think will be an outside backer at Idaho. Sam has the size and athleticism to be a force in the middle. Both will be competing for time in an already deep unit.

Recruiting PROSPECTS:
Below are prospects from around the region that we've been made aware of from a variety of sources. Some have been contacted by Idaho, some have not. This is NOT a complete list, so expect Holt and his staff to be looking at a much larger group of players, and searching for several "diamonds in the rough." The prospects shown below are listed in alphabetical order.

    Jayson Bird, 5-10, 216, 4.5-40 (Shelley, ID)
    Andre Geraghty, 6-2, 210 (Seattle, WA)
    Taylor Hermes, 6-2, 210 (McNary, OR)
    Glen Hobbs, 6-1.5, 190, 4.45-40 (Vancouvar, WA)
    Joe Mannix, 6-0, 220 (Canby, OR)
    Randy Munns, 6-0, 195 (Rexburg, ID)
    Jake Paulson, 6-4, 225 (Lakeridge, OR)
    John Richards, 5-11, 210 (Sprague, OR)
    Chris Ruiz, 6-1, 225 (Nampa, ID)
    Mike Welch, 6-1, 200, (Pasco, WA)
    Nick Wolf, 6-0, 200 (Lewiston, ID)


Linebackers
Projected Returning Depth-Chart
(Listed by 2003 stats)

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. 2003 Stats
Mike Anderson 6-4 238 Jr GS=12, 104 Tackles, 1 INT, 1 Sack
Chad Pool 5-10 205 So GS=11, 81 Tackles, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FF
Nate Nichols 6-2 223 Jr GS=2, GP=10, 45 tackles, 1 INT, 8 PBU
Cole Snyder 5-11 230 Jr GS=0, GP=10, 33 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU
Robert Davis 6-4 225 So GS=3, GP=10, 25 Tackles, 1 Sack
Curtis Bibolet 6-3 232 Sr GS=2, GP=6, 19 tackles
Justin Wall 5-10 190 Sr GS=0, 1 Tackle
Fred Kelley 6-1 225 Jr JC Transfer, No Data
Jaron Williams 6-2 225 So Injured
Nathan Zody 5-11 226 So Walk-on, No Data
Josh Bousman 6-2 205 RS-Fr Redshirted
Sam Tossie 6-1 237 RS-Fr Redshirted




ALL Vandals Top Stories