The Boise State football coaching staff has expanded by two this season thanks to a new NCAA rule.
Each Football Bowl Subdivision member is allowed to have four graduate assistant coaches, twice as many as previous years. Graduate assistants are compensated with scholarships and stipends.
The Broncos two new graduate assistants are Joel Filani (offense), a former all-conference wide receiver at Texas Tech, and Ben Thienes (defense, kickers), who was an off-field quality control assistant last year.
Its great because its about developing coaches, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said of adding graduate assistants.
The rest of the Broncos 2012 football staff, other than the 10 full-time coaches, includes: Andrew Browning, defensive graduate assistant (second year); Louie Rodriguez, offensive graduate assistant (second year); Brad Larrondo, assistant athletic director for football (second year); Lou Major, director of football operations (second year); Rich Rasmussen, director of player personnel (first year); Marshall Malchow, assistant director of player personnel (first year); Vicki Sullivan, management assistant (11th year); Tim Socha, head strength and conditioning coach (seventh year); Dale Holste, director of athletic equipment operations (17th year); Marc Paul, assistant athletic director for sports medicine (fifth year); and Taylor Little, video coordinator (second year).
NEWS AND NOTES
Nevada announced Thursday that fans likely will have to buy a three-game Power Pack or season tickets to get a ticket to the Dec. 1 game against Boise State. The package costs $60 for general admission or $81 for reserved seats and goes on sale Aug. 27. Boise State already has sold out its 1,000 tickets to the road game, which is 3,000 fewer than the school received two years ago.
The defense played well Thursday, particularly in the front seven, in the first set of two-a-day practices. The group stopped both game-like drives by the first-team offense, including an interception by senior middle linebacker Tommy Smith. Senior tackle Mike Atkinson delivered two tackles for loss and a forced fumble in the afternoon.
Petersen likes the five defensive backs his team added this year, including four cornerbacks. I like how these new young DBs are competing, he said. Maybe they just dont know better yet. But they go hard, they take chances and I think theyre playmakers. Whether they play for us or not (this year), I dont know, but theyre talented.
SPOTLIGHT ON S LEE HIGHTOWER
When Hightower arrived last year, he immediately set his sights on becoming the starting free safety in 2012. Barring a fall camp surprise, hell reach that goal for the Aug. 31 season opener against Michigan State.
That was a focus of mine, Hightower said. I wanted to come in here, see what (the veteran safeties) were doing and hopefully get in right now. The position Im in, Im very grateful for and blessed for and hoping to make the best of.
Thats what Hightower did last year. He was expected to redshirt but injuries at cornerback forced him into action. He started the last four games and was impressive enough that then-defensive backs coach Marcel Yates identified him as the likely heir apparent to George Iloka, a four-year starter and NFL Draft pick.
First-year defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake likes Hightower, too.
Hes exciting, Lake said. Hes always in his playbook. He asks a lot of very intelligent questions. He made a lot of plays in the spring. He hasnt really gotten that many opportunities so far (in camp), but hes getting close.
Hightower finished with 25 tackles, four pass breakups and an interception in eight games last season.
He has watched Iloka on video to prepare for this season and looks forward to showing the physical side of his game at safety.
I like to be physical, he said. Thats a lot of the reason I like to play safety.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat