2002 Vandal Senior Class

For 19 Vandal seniors, this Saturday's tilt with New Mexico State University is their last opportunity to notch a victory in Idaho gear. Led by runningback <b>Blair Lewis</b>, this should be a game loaded with emotion and determination.

Sixty minutes. That's all that is left for 19 Idaho seniors, many of whom have been with the program through the best of times, and the worst of times. Highlights for many in this group include being freshmen during the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl victory over Southern Mississippi, plus Idaho's first victory over Washington State in 30 years during the 1999 season (#2 finish in the Big West race), and our first back-to-back wins over the Cougs in eons after the 2000 win.

Several in this class have stepped in this season and become not only reliable starters, but leaders in the conference. Among the standouts are:

Jordan Kramer, Strongside Linebacker, #1 in tackles
Josh Jelmberg, Wide Receiver, #1 in receptions/game
Blair Lewis, Runningback, #1 in scoring TDs
Keith Stamps, Kicker, #1 in PAT percentage
Talifaia Atoe, Defensive Tackle, #2 in tackles-for-loss

All of us at VandalVenue.com want to extend a hearty THANK YOU to this group of young men for the countless hours they have poured into our football program, and for sticking things out through thick and thin. Their effort did not go unnoticed, and their commitment did not go unappreciated.

Sixty minutes. That's all that is left. We wish this class the best of luck this weekend, and with wherever life leads them after they're finished in Moscow.

And, we firmly believe they have what it takes to beat the Aggies in Moscow this weekend.



#69 Talifaia Atoe
Defensive Tackle
6-2, 314 Pounds
The Dalles, Oregon

Games Started 2002: 11
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
A JC transfer this fall, this is Tali's one and only year in Moscow, and he's making the best of it. He's started every game this season. He is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (13), he's 7th on the team in tackles, and he's #2 in the conference in tackles for loss per game. He rarely comes off the field, and has been improving as the season progresses. He's been a much needed asset on the interior defensive line, for certain.

VandalVenue.com

#8 Christopher Belser
Wide Receiver
6-0, 174 Pounds
Seattle, Washington

Games Started 2002: 3
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
Although Chris has only started 3 games this year, he's been a critical weapon in every game. He's played in all 11 games, is 8th in the conference in receptions per game, and is 9th in the conference in receiving yards per game. He's been a major contributor to the Idaho receiving corp for 3 years, and has been a valuable #3 receiver in our league leading passing offense on the season.

VandalVenue.com

#89 Kurt Gregg
Wide Receiver
6-3, 193 Pounds
Woodinville, Washington

Games Started 2002: 0
Games Played 2002: 6

Summary:
This is Kurt's first year with the Idaho football team, and he's made an appearance in 6 games this season, hauling in one catch for 6 yards. However, football isn't his only game. He's been a member of the Idaho track team the past 2 years, and finished fourth in the Big West Conference in the decathlon in 2001. Kurt previously attended Eastern Washington University before transfering to the University of Idaho. He's definitely given our team solid depth at wide receiver this year.

VandalVenue.com

#11 Nicq Hale
Cornerback
5-10, 171 Pounds
Mountain Home, Idaho

Games Started 2002: 6
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
Nicq started the first 2 games of the season at cornerback, lost his starting job mid-way through the season, and has started the last 4 games. He's been a steady contributor all season, and has played in all 11 games. He has 23 tackles on the season, 5 pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Although he missed last season, this one-time walk-on has worked his tail off during the off-season and came back for his senior season intent on being a major contributor. By all accounts, he has been.

VandalVenue.com

#19 Eric Hunter
Wide Receiver
6-4, 199 Pounds
West Covina, California

Games Started 2002:1
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
A huge target at 6-4, Eric has been a solid contributor this season as the #4/#5 receiver in the rotation, and now finds himself a starter at the end of the season. He's the 5th leading receiver on the team (24.9 yards per game), and had two of his best games of the season against Montana and Middle Tennessee. Idaho has been able to utilize his height advantage on occasion this year, and we are looking for him to be a major contributor against New Mexico State.

VandalVenue.com

#77 Josh Jelinek
Offensive Tackle
6-4, 314 Pounds
Prosser, Washington

Games Started 2002: 11
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
In a much publicized move this off-season, Josh was transitioned from the defensive line where he had been a backup, over to the offensive line where he was originally recruited to play 5 years ago. The move has proven to a good one as he has started every game this season and has paved the way for one of the top rated offenses in the Sun Belt Conference.

VandalVenue.com

#12 Josh Jelmberg
Wide Receiver
6-0, 193 Pounds
Kennewick, Washington

Games Started 2002: 8
Games Played 2002: 9

Summary:
What more could Idaho possibly expect from their top-rated senior receiver? Before suffering an injury during the Middle Tennessee game 4 weeks ago, Josh led the Conference in receptions per game (8.00), was #2 in yards per game (98.9), and was #2 in the Conference in scoring (6.9 points per game). He was also ranked 5th in the Nation in receptions per game. More importantly, Idaho needed a productive go-to receiver this year, and Josh has stepped up to the challenge. He's fighting through the injury and trying to get back on the field, but has had an outstanding season.

VandalVenue.com

#55 Mike Jones
Defensive Tackle
6-4, 284 Pounds
Lewiston, Idaho

Games Started 2002: 0
Games Played 2002: 8

Summary:
Mike joined the Vandals 5 years ago, started 9 games in 2000, and was the starter early last season before going down in the 2nd game of the season at Washington with a season ending knee injury. To say he's been troubled by injuries throughout his career is an understatement. This season the competition on the interior defensive line has been intense, but Mike has played in 8 games on the season. Although his career has had its share of ups and downs, the accomplishments of this former walk-on from Lewiston are admirable.

VandalVenue.com


#7 Jordan Kramer
Strongside Linebacker
6-2, 220 Pounds
Parma, Idaho

Games Started 2002: 11
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
Last season Jordan was moved from safety (where he had been a starter for over a year) to linebacker. The move is paying off for Jordan as he currently leads the team in tackles (110, almost twice as many as the next player), and currently is the #1 leading tackler in the Sun Belt Conference. He's having an outstanding year all-around, as he is among the Conference leaders in sacks (5), with a fumble recovery, an interception, and a total of 13 tackles for loss on the season. He's doing just about everything you would ask of a senior linebacker.

VandalVenue.com


#6 Blair Lewis
Runningback
5-10, 216 Pounds
Arcadia, California

Games Started 2002: 5
Games Played 2002: 9

Summary:
Although Blair has only been listed as the starter for 5 games this season, he's been an emotional fireplug for the offensive ground attack. He leads the team in rushing yards on the season (840), and rushing yards per game (85.7). The injury he suffered last year has been all but non-existent as he's had touchdown dashes of 81, 53 and 35 yards. He's proven his willingness to bang the ball up the middle, and gives us explosive speed off the ends. But it's his emotional leadership that this team needs, especially as it embarks on its final game of the 2002 schedule.

VandalVenue.com


#72 Robert Mitchell
Offensive Guard
6-1, 310 Pounds
Rialto, California

Games Started 2002: 11
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
Robert joined the Vandals last season as a JC transfer, and has started every game since. He's a force in the middle of the offensive line for the Vandals, and is one of the leaders up front. He's been a much needed workhorse up front for the Vandals, and has been described as a lineman who puts everything he has into every down of every game.

VandalVenue.com


#79 Seann Mumford
Offensive Tackle
6-6, 301 Pounds
Newport, Washington

Games Started 2002: 0
Games Played 2002: 1

Summary:
With the influx of new players, and changes in personnel this off-season, Seann has seen his playing time diminish this year (he started 5 games last season). However, he continues to work hard and has been one of the top backups this entire season. The value he continues to bring to this team is important, in making the starters work hard each week to retain their positions, and providing a solid backup for the offensive line in the event he is called upon this season. His 5 years in the program have been much appreciated, for certain.

VandalVenue.com


#44 Kevin O'Connell
Fullback
6-2, 246 Pounds
Spokane, Washington

Games Started 2002: 11
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
Originally signed to Idaho as a quarterback 5 years ago, Kevin has worked his way into the starting job at Fullback this season. He's been a cog in our attack, with 3 touchdowns on the season and about 10 yards receiving per game. He even got to put on his old QB hat for a play, completing a 23 yard pass in the first half against Montana on a trick play. He doesn't get to handle the ball alot, but his impact on the offense is substantial. Its his responsibility to help pave the way for the running back, and provide an outlet when Lindgren is under pressure. He's done an outstanding job for Idaho this year, and replacing him next year could be difficult.

VandalVenue


#4 Ed Rankin
Cornerback
6-1, 188 Pounds
Tacoma, Washington

Games Started 2002: 6
Games Played 2002: 9

Summary:
Since becoming a starter last season, Ed (a 5 year member of the Vandals) has played a critical role on our defense. He started 6 games during the middle of the season, beginning with the Oregon game, and has 4 pass deflections, 17 tackles, and one forced fumble on the season. He's the most veteran cornerback on our team, and his role this season has been huge. We're looking forward to him playing strong in Idaho's last game of this season, and the team will need him to be at the top of his game.

VandalVenue.com


#33 Sergio Robleto
Safety
5-10, 187 Pounds
Downey, California

Games Started 2002: 9
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
Sergio joined the Vandals last year as a Junior College transfer and immediately earned a starting roll at safety. He started the first 4 games of this season, and has appeared in all 11 games on the year. He's 9th on the team in tackles with 37 this season (including 16 solo take downs) and has 2 interceptions. Although he hasn't started every game this season, he's an agressive athlete who gives our defensive backfield a rotation that goes 2 deep with starting experience.

VandalVenue.com


#16 Sammy Ruben
Cornerback
5-10, 182 Pounds
Inglewood, California

Games Started 2002: 0
Games Played 2002: 6

Summary:
Sammy joined the Vandals last year as a JC transfer and has played meaningful minutes in 6 games this season as a backup cornerback. He has 3 tackles on the season, including 1 tackle for loss. He's worked hard throughout his career in Moscow, and provides our defensive backfield with the depth we did not have last season.

VandalVenue.com


#41 James Staley
Weakside Linebacker
6-1, 224 Pounds
Cucamonga, California

Games Started 2002: 0
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
James joined the Vandals last season as a JC transfer and started part of last season at Strongside Linebacker until an injury ended his season halfway through the year. This year he was moved to Weakside Linebacker to better utilize his speed. Although he has been battling a couple injuries this season, he has played an integral roll in this year's defense coming off the bench in all 11 games for 27 tackles (11 solo). He's a major contributor on a linebacking corp that rotates 6 players actively, with the intent of keeping fresh legs on the field throughout each game.

VandalVenue.com


#49 Keith Stamps
Placekicker
5-10, 221 Pounds
Colbert, Washington

Games Started 2002: 11
Games Played 2002: 11

Summary:
This young man should be one of the leading vote getters for Most Improved Player on this year's team. A year ago our kicking troubles were woeful as Idaho tried at least 2 different kickers throughout the 2001 season. This year Keith, under the tutelage of Special Teams Coordinator Gary Coston, leads the Conference with a perfect 100% accuracy rating on PATs (32 attempts). He's also 4th in the Conference in overall kicking points per game (4.5). He's done a good job this year, and we'll need a steady performance from him on Saturday against NMSU.

VandalVenue.com


#96 Dennis Taeatafa
Defensive End
6-3, 255 Pounds
San Diego, California

Games Started 2002: 4
Games Played 2002: 10

Summary:
If Keith Stamps is a leading vote getter for Most Improved, then Dennis should be a leading vote getter for Most Inspirational. A year after losing his mother, he was awarded a 6th year of eligibility this season and has used it to start in 4 games this season. He has played in 10 games overall, and has 32 tackles on the season, including 4 tackles for loss. He's part of a 4 man rotation on the defensive ends, and has seen significant playing time throughout the year. He's also been a key member of the short yardage defense team.

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