Coaches and teammates use the same term to describe Boise State sophomore Blake Renaud.
He likes to hit everything, said senior middle linebacker Tommy Smith, who starts in front of Renaud.
Renaud has won the Hammer for the biggest hit on special teams in four of 11 games this season and six times in his career. No other Bronco has won the Hammer more than once this season or more than three times (senior linebacker J.C. Percy) since Renaud joined the team.
He plays on kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return and rotates into games at linebacker. He ranks sixth on the team with 40 tackles going into Saturdays game at Nevada.
If somebody gets in his way, hes probably going to knock them over, sophomore nickel/special-teamer Corey Bell said. He brings intensity and I think he brings entertainment for everybody because hes knocking people around.
Renaud (pronounced like the city of Reno) has been doing that since he was a 2-year-old, playing goal-line football with his 6-foot-5 dad on the floor of the family home.
He started playing Pop Warner when he was 8. He hit so hard he was asked to play with the 10-year-olds.
Hes always been like that, said Greg Renaud, who walked onto the football team at Indiana State and played club rugby until he was 29. He loves contact.
Thats why his son (6-foot-2, 239 pounds) chose football over baseball and basketball as his favorite sport. He played at famed De La Salle High in Concord, Calif. The school takes a year-round approach to football and he won two state titles in three years as a varsity starting middle linebacker. He also played tight end.
Renaud visited Boise State and Oregon State during the summer before his senior season and chose the Broncos. Ohio and Minnesota also offered scholarships.
At Oregon State, two coaches looked like they knew who I was, Renaud said. When I came here, all of the coaches were waiting in the main office to shake my hand. I actually felt wanted here.
Renaud provided immediate linebacker depth and started on two special teams as a true freshman last season. He was impressive last spring but has played a backup role behind Smith, giving him time to improve as a pass defender and learn the intricacies of the defense.
Im doing better toward the end (of the season), he said. I didnt think I did so well the first half of the season.
Renauds development will be a key to the success of Boise States defense next season. The two starting linebackers and starting nickel are seniors, which will leave Renaud, Bell and true freshman weak-side linebacker Tyler Gray as the top returning linebackers.
Renaud, who has been on campus for about 17 months, has played the most.
Hes going to be the guy that everybody looks to, linebackers coach Bob Gregory said.
Said Bell: This year has been tremendous for us because weve gotten to really watch those (seniors) and see what it takes to be leaders on this team. Theyve done a great job of showing that. Were both looking forward to having the opportunity to step up and be leaders.
That will be a different role for Renaud, who is known for letting his pads do the talking.
Hes just a physical guy he takes a lot of pride in that, Gregory said. He wont say two words. Hes an old school middle linebacker. Hes going to play how you always want your linebackers to play.
Renaud likes that term, old school. One of his favorite linebackers is Bears legend Dick Butkus.
My dad is an old-school guy, Renaud said. I guess I just took after him.
Greg Renaud taught his son at a young age that football was a game of physicality. He watches his son now and sees someone who is very passionate about the game.
Something I always told Blake is football comes down to who hits harder, Greg said.
And thats why a guy like Renaud, even when he isnt an every-down player, can make a large impact.
He often sets the tone with the opening kickoff, where hes either disrupting the opponents blocking scheme or setting the wedge block on the Broncos return.
He just brings a great physical presence to our defense and to our team in general, coach Chris Petersen said.
The Boise State-Nevada game airs regionally on ABC at 1:35 p.m. MST Saturday. The coverage map was released Wednesday. People roughly west of the Mississippi River will get the Broncos game. Those to the east will get Cincinnati-Connecticut.