Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence grew up in South Carolina. He played junior college football in Kansas. Hes playing major college football in Idaho. And later this season, hell visit Hawaii with the Broncos.
I guess Im just trying to see the world, he said with a chuckle, flashing the sense of humor that endears him to teammates. I really love football, so I want to play any way possible. It was a great honor coming up here to play for Coach Pete and his team.
Lawrence, a sophomore, joined Chris Petersens Broncos in January to fill an immediate need for a program whose starting defensive ends were taken in the top half of the NFL Draft.
He earned the start in the season opener at Michigan State and looked like a potential three-year fixture in the lineup. Lawrence finished third on the team with nine tackles.
Hes expected to start again Saturday in the home opener against Miami (Ohio).
Since the first practice that we had with him, I knew he was going to be something special, senior linebacker J.C. Percy said, just because hes got a great motor, hes physical and strong and hes a big guy. He was very excited to have his little coming-out party at Michigan State the way he did.
Lawrence (6-foot-3, 242 pounds) is the latest in a recent string of junior college transfers who have made immediate impacts on defense. Boise State doesnt take many transfers and performs extensive research on prospects to make sure theyll be able to handle the detail-oriented program.
Recent successes include nickel Winston Venable, defensive end Tyrone Crawford and cornerback Jerrell Gavins.
With Lawrence, his playing style, academic success at junior college and family support helped convince Boise State coaches that he would thrive.
Petersen even made an unusual home visit. He met with Lawrences parents in Aiken, S.C., while Lawrence was still in Kansas.
I felt better about the situation just because of his parents, because I think his parents are all about the same things we are, Petersen said.
Petersen also made an impression on the Lawrences.
My mom wanted me to come here, Lawrence said. She said she fell in love with Coach Pete.
Lawrence spent the past two seasons at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan. He was recommended by his cousin, Marcus Lawrence, who played for Butler, South Carolina and briefly the New York Giants.
Lawrence redshirted in 2010 and played in 2011, leaving three years of eligibility. His work in the classroom also allowed him to transfer in January.
Those two perks made him even more valuable on the recruiting market. Most transfers have two years left and many cant leave until summer.
He worked hard from day one, did everything we asked and left here in a great situation, Butler coach Troy Morrell said.
Lawrence made the JC Gridwire first-team All-America team last season. He recorded 66 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 10 sacks on the nations No. 2 team.
He was a difference-maker for our team, Morrell said. He did a tremendous job playing the run and putting pressure on the quarterback. He really matured and came into his own.
Lawrences suitors included Tennessee, South Florida, Kansas State and Mississippi all much closer to home.
But he chose Boise State because he felt more comfortable with the program. He plans to major in kinesiology.
He felt like it was a good fit for him as a student-athlete academically and as a football player, Morrell said. His talents fit what they were wanting their defensive linemen to do. He felt like he had better opportunities at Boise and with Boise being a nationally known program and with a lot of exciting things happening there, he felt like he wanted to join the tradition.
The expectation was that Lawrence would contribute, if not start, immediately. But the Boise State coaches tried not to put that pressure on him.
Thats the last thing we want to do, Kwiatkowski said.
It might not have mattered.
I like pressure, Lawrence said.
That showed in the opener. He played well from the first snap showing no signs of discomfort on a much bigger stage and against much better players than he experienced at Butler.
Any time you play hard, good things are going to happen, Kwiatkowski said. He does that consistently.
Said sophomore end Tyler Horn, Lawrences backup: He plays with a little attitude. Hes getting better fundamentally, which is helping him out a lot.
Lawrences personality also has been an asset.
His humor helped him fit in quickly in the locker room and he has emerged as the cook at defensive line barbecues.
Hes a funny dude, senior tackle Greg Grimes said. Hes a character. I like him a lot. Because he comes from somewhere different, he has a different perspective. He looks at life differently.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat