LAS VEGAS One simple, unattainable goal drives Boise State senior linebacker J.C. Percy.
My goal out there is to try to make every play, he said. So I play the game like Im going to make every play and I run to the ball like Im going to make every play.
That determination made Percy a success on and off the field at Boise State, where he was named the Broncos defensive MVP this season and this week completed a second bachelors degree finance, to go with economics.
The former walk-on from Blackfoot High will play his final game as a Bronco on Saturday against Washington in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. He has appeared in all 52 games over the past four years, the only player to do so.
Percy was voted MVP by his teammates, beating out more hyped defenders such as cornerback Jamar Taylor and end Demarcus Lawrence with his gritty consistency.
It says a lot about J.C., what hes meant to this program and the year hes had, coach Chris Petersen said, because Demarcus and Jamar kind of play a little more high-profile positions. So for the guys to select J.C. those are the guys who really know whats going on its just a tribute to the career, and the season, that hes had.
Percy set the bar high for his 2012 season. He said he wanted to prove he is one of the best linebackers in school history.
Then he began ticking off milestones on his way to that goal.
He became the first Boise State inside linebacker to make the all-conference first team since WAC Defensive Player of the Year Korey Hall in 2006.
He became the first Boise State defender with 100 tackles hes at 101 since Hall, also in 2006.
And he won that MVP award.
Plus, he was a key leader and playmaker on a defense that ranks sixth in the nation in points allowed (14.9 per game) and carried the Broncos to their 10-2 record, Mountain West co-championship and No. 20 ranking.
I feel like Ive accomplished almost every goal that I set prior to the season, he said. I never want to be OK with mediocrity. I always strive to get better every day. The only way to get better in football is to show up to every practice with the intent to get better. Every year that Ive been here, I feel like Ive done that.
Percys confidence and commitment allowed him to overcome a broken leg during his senior year of high school that scrambled his recruitment and left him weighing his walk-on options. He chose Boise State shortly after winning a 4A wrestling state championship in such dominant fashion that he needed less than 3 minutes on the mat to win six matches.
Percy returned home to find a letter from Petersen.
I think thats what sealed the deal, said Jim Percy, J.C.s dad. He said to J.C., Congratulations on a great run. Now its time for you to think about being a Bronco.
Jims advice to his son: When you get there, dont leave a doubt who the best player is.
Percy earned a scholarship in his first year in the program and became a regular contributor in the linebacker rotation and one of the programs most valued special-teams players as a redshirt freshman in 2009.
He finished second on the team in tackles in 2009 (64) and 2010 (65) and tied for fifth in 2011 (46).
But until this year, he never had been the clear starter at weak-side linebacker. He shared the job with Aaron Tevis the past three seasons.
I knew he was going to have a big year, senior middle linebacker Tommy Smith said.
Percys spike in tackles this season was partly due to circumstance.
The Broncos havent rotated their linebackers as much, giving Percy more playing time, and many opponents have preferred to run their offense to the short side of the field, where Percy plays.
But its no accident that he has been one of the Broncos top tacklers for four straight years.
A lot of it is desire and want-to, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. He wants to be in on every tackle. He gets off blocks and gets into the right position.
Along the way, Percy has developed into one of the teams best leaders, too.
That also required some dedication.
Coming out of high school, I wasnt an overly social person who went out of his way to make friends and to keep friends, Percy said. Coach Pete really has done a good job making me realize that these people here that Ive gone to college with are going to be lifelong friends.
Thats a common transition for players to make, Petersen said.
Freshmen are worried about surviving and finding their own niche.
Veterans need to be team builders.
Petersen asked Percy to make that leap.
Youre here. Youve arrived. Youre one of our guys, Petersen told him. You need to open up and help these other guys. Reach out to these guys and give them a piece of you.
Hes done that, Petersen added, and its been great.
That Percy would attack such a weakness and turn leadership into one of his strengths is no surprise.
Neither is the way hes seized the moment this season.
As a young kid, he was into finishing all along, Jim Percy said. From grade school to high school, you never saw a B. He always had As.
... Id like to take credit for it, but hes just a unique individual with how hes gone ahead and tried to accomplish things. Im very proud of the young man. Hes done it all on his own.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat