DARREN KOONTZ, DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Koontz, a senior with one career start, steps into a starting role likely for the rest of the season. He takes Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoes tackle spot. Tjong-A-Tjoe slides over to nose tackle to replace injured senior Mike Atkinson (torn ACL).
Its hard to see Mike go down like that, Koontz said. Its part of football. Were always ready to step up and fill the shoes we need to fill. Im looking to take it as I want to make him proud, I want to fill his shoes.
Koontz has enjoyed a breakout season. Hes second on the team with 2.5 sacks and has made 20 tackles. He also was involved in the forced fumble that led to Corey Bells touchdown at Wyoming
Its been awesome being healthy, Koontz said. Its nice to be out there playing how I should be. Ive taken my role and just kind of gone with it.
DARIAN THOMPSON, SAFETY
The redshirt freshman with just two starts leads the Broncos with three interceptions.
I look at (senior cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins) and say, Are you going to let him do that? defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said.
Thompson has replaced suspended sophomore Lee Hightower at free safety and the Broncos defense hasnt missed a beat.
Its been very fun to watch him grow each game and now obviously hes getting a lot of reps, so I expect his play to just explode here down the stretch, Lake said.
Thompson emerged in spring ball as a playmaker and served as the third safety before Hightowers suspension. He played significant snaps even in the opener at Michigan State.
Its just been fun, Thompson said. Its one experience Ill never forget.
DONTE DEAYON, CORNERBACK
The true freshman made his college debut last week immediately moving into the No. 3 cornerback role. Deayon played 10 snaps on defense, a workload that defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake expects to increase from week to week.
Deayon also played on three special teams units.
Donte was a guy who came into training camp and opened our eyes up, Lake said. We knew that we had a player who could play right now, but obviously we had our corners set who we wanted to play this season.
That changed with the season-ending injury to third corner Bryan Douglas.
(Deayon) came in there and and played excellent, Lake said. This guy shows up every practice, makes plays on the football. Hes very studious, he doesnt miss a lot of opportunities so the future is bright for Donte Deayon.