J.C. Percy could have said he wanted to lead Boise State in tackles, or earn all-conference honors, or become the teams defensive MVP.
Reasonable goals all but thats not the way Percy was taught.
Ever since I was a little kid, Ive been told to aim high, he said.
And thats the approach he is taking to his senior season, his first as the clear starter at weak-side linebacker. He made 177 tackles the past three seasons while sharing time with Aaron Tevis, finishing second on the team twice.
Ive had to play behind people all the way up till this year, and this is my chance to shine, Percy said in March. I want to go out and make a statement that Im one of the greatest to ever play here.
He should get plenty of opportunity to prove himself this year, with the Broncos lacking proven depth at linebacker. Percys legacy also will be affected by how the Broncos play on defense as a whole, because he is one of the leaders of the group.
J.C. is just one of the great warriors weve got on our team, linebackers coach Bob Gregory said. He takes pride in playing every play as hard as he can. He never misses practices. Hes a guy who is going to try to do everything to improve his game.
One way Percy has done that is by maximizing his practice time. Nobody remembers him missing a practice, but he says he was limited at two practices during fall camp last year. He also takes every rep he can in every drill.
Hes always the one to be first in line, senior middle linebacker Tommy Smith said, and thats something I like about him. He really loves football thats his passion.
The emphasis for Percy this fall is to improve his pass defense and pass rush the areas where the more athletic Tevis held an edge.
Percy already is one of the teams smartest players and uses his effort and toughness to fight his way to the ball on run plays.
Hes extremely intelligent, senior fullback Dan Paul said. He knows where the balls going to go every time, and hes very competitive, too. Hes everything you want or need in a linebacker.
Said Gregory: Hes as smart as any coach on this staff. He asks great questions. Hell stump me sometimes. He studies offenses, and that helps him get in the right position.
Percy came to Boise State as a walk-on from Blackfoot. He talked to Boise State, Stanford and several small schools but the recruiting process was short-circuited when he broke a leg in the first game of his senior season. Boise State stayed in touch and offered him the walk-on spot.
Percy was a two-time captain of the Blackfoot football team, a state champion wrestler, a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash and a 4.0 student.
He redshirted with the Broncos in 2008 and has played in all 40 games since. He finished second on the team with 64 tackles in 2009, second with 65 tackles in 2010 and tied for fifth with 48 tackles in 2011.
He also has received conference academic honors every season and was Boise States co-special teams player of the year last season.
On top of it all, Percy already has an economics degree and by the end of the year expects to complete a finance degree and accounting minor.
J.C.s one of those guys who really embodies everything this program is all about, coach Chris Petersen said. He may not have been a headliner around here the last couple years, but he was so important to everything that weve done here.
That changes this year.
Percy enters the season as a headliner on this defense.
He needs to play like one.
And he believes he can.
I didnt ever envision this much would happen to me, he said of his college career. Ive set high goals in everything that I do and Ive been able to achieve a lot of them, and Im very happy for that.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat