Bronco defenders make their case

Hall, Browning, Brooks show their skills to NFL scouts

Idaho StatesmanMarch 6, 2007 

Five years as college football standouts didn’t change much for linebacker Korey Hall, defensive tackle Andrew Browning and linebacker Colt Brooks.

The three former Boise State Broncos are still underdogs.

And they’re still hungry.

Hall, Browning, Brooks and about a dozen of their former teammates worked out for 20 NFL scouts Monday at the Caven-Williams Sports Complex as part of the Broncos’ “pro day.”

The trio formed the heart of the Boise State defense the past two seasons, but none was among six Broncos invite to the NFL Scouting Combine.

All three face an uphill battle to make an NFL roster. They faced similar scenarios when they joined the Broncos five years ago.

Hall was the local farmboy from Glenns Ferry who was an unknown outside of Southern Idaho when the Broncos gave him a scholarship. Brooks, of Boise and Browning, of Lake Oswego, Ore. Were walk-ons.

“It’s the same kind of situation,” Browning said. “All of us look forward to it, proving people wrong. …All I want is a shot.”

Boise State coaches have expressed frustration with the NFL system, which favors “measurables” over intangibles.

Coach Chris Petersen was glad to hear that six Broncos were invited to the combine – by far a school record. He immediately noticed, though, that Hall and Browning were absent from the list.

Hall (6-1, 216) was an All-WAC second teamer.

“They’re not going to look like some of those guys going in the first round,” BSU defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “But can they play like them? We’ll find out. And I would never bet against any of those guys.”

Wilcox emphasizes the trio’s character and on-the-field abilities in his talks with NFL scouts and assistant coaches.

“We just want to do everything we can to help them get a shot,” Wilcox said. “… Those guys are very easy to talk about because they do everything right. They’re just great guys to have on your team. They’re workers, no maintenance, so it’s pretty easy to stand on the table for those guys.”

Hall, a four-year starter, finished fourth at BSU in career tackles with 394 and tied for 10th with 11 interceptions.

He had 111 tackles and six interceptions last season as the Broncos went 13-0 and won the Fiesta Bowl.

After the season, Hall went to Indianapolis for a speed camp to address one of his weaknesses. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.82 seconds a year ago and ran a 4.7 on Monday.

Still, he knows he isn’t going to dazzle anyone during speed tests.

“The strength of my game is on the field,” Hall said. “I’ve never claimed to be a phenomenal athlete. … In here, I just don’t want to give them any red flags.”

Hall even worked out at fullback during Monday’s position drills at the request of a couple of scouts. He had not prepared, but he looked comfortable running routes out of the backfield.

“It looked like he’d been doing it for five years,” Browning said.

Hall says he’s willing to try fullback. That was the route to the NFL traveled by former Boise State linebacker Bryan Johnson.

“I’ll play wherever they pay me to play,” Hall said.

Browning, a three-year starter, led the Broncos with 8 1/2 sacks last season. He was so overlooked out of high school that he sent videotapes to schools across the country trying to find a taker.

Brooks, also a three-year starter, ranked third on the team with 56 tackles, second with 6 ½ sacks and tied for third with two interceptions last season. He had six sacks and three forced fumbles in 2005. Brooks was a high school quarterback who walked on at Boise State without a position.

The Broncos found a home for him at strong-side linebacker. He hopes the NFL can use him as a situational safety/linebacker and special teamer.

He expects Hall and Browning to find roles, too.

“We’re definitely undersized and not really thought about a whole lot,” Brooks said, “but I think there are niches in the NFL that we definitely can play a part in, and a lot of scouts see that.”

None of the three need pro football to make a living. Hall and Brooks already have their bachelor’s degrees and Browning will graduate in May. They could get regular jobs. They just don’t want to.

“The dream, I’m not ready to let it go right now,” Brooks said. “I still have a lot of passion to play football.”

To offer story ideas or comments, contact reporter Chadd Cripe at ccripe@idahostatesman.com or 377-6398.

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