In the locker room and on the recruiting trail, the Boise State football programs sudden success at producing NFL-caliber players gets noticed.
Twenty-six former Broncos were on NFL rosters as preseason games began this week including 16 who were on Boise States roster as recently as December 2010.
Its really inspiring to see how theyre coming along and how theyre growing, sophomore safety Lee Hightower said. I definitely want to be in the same position thats everyones dream.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen doesnt like to emphasize the NFL with recruits, but has said the teams recent run of NFL Draft picks including four first-rounders in the past five years should assure prospects that they can achieve their dreams here.
First-year defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, who recruits talent-rich Los Angeles and Florida, said the NFL is a hot topic with the players he recruits.
They want to know if they come here will they have the same chance to go to the NFL as other teams, Lake said, and obviously the proof is in the pudding.
Junior right tackle Charles Leno Jr. was encouraged during his recruitment by the success of left tackle Ryan Clady, who was drafted in the first round in 2008. Leno signed with Boise State less than a year later.
I came in at left tackle and the standout name was Ryan Clady, he said. That was like a little sales pitch they gave me. It was nice to see.
Back then, Clady was a rarity the first first-rounder in school history and part of an NFL contingent so small it was easy to rattle off each name.
Today, the list of former Broncos in the NFL is so long that recruits probably wont need to be told about it much longer particularly if defensive end Shea McClellin and tailback Doug Martin, this years first-rounders, become stars.
I definitely think that our program is up and coming and that were turning some heads right now and putting out some really good talent, as we always have, senior tailback D.J. Harper said. Im really excited for those guys who are out there doing big things and I think theres more to come.
Players say theyre focused on their college careers, but watching their teammates, friends and roommates move into pro football has showed them whats possible.
They definitely gave us a chance, senior defensive tackle Mike Atkinson said. They put our name out there. They put it into our hands if we want to get better and try, we have a chance. Its not out of the question. Its not some rare thing.
Said cornerback Jamar Taylor, whose fellow starters in the 2010 secondary are all in the NFL: Its a lot of motivation for your individual goals but I understand its bigger than me right now; its more about our team. Its exciting just to know those guys took advantage of their opportunities. When the NFL knocked at their door, when college football knocked at their door, they did whatever they could to make plays for their team.
Petersen said Boise State has developed so many NFL players because his assistants have recruited the right guys players with big talent and bigger work ethics.
The guys in the NFL now set the standard for hard work that Petersen wants each years seniors to pass down to the younger classes.
Thats their responsibility to continue that legacy, he said. Thats one of the things thats been very good around here. Weve had good players, but theyve worked really, really hard developing themselves.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat