BOISE — Boise State football coach Chris Petersen is well aware of the lofty expectations surrounding true freshman linebacker Joe Martarano, the Fruitland High three-sport star who joined the team this summer.
Martarano committed to the Broncos two years ago, before his junior year of high school. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies this summer in the 13th round but didnt sign.
I just like being around him. Hes a great kid, Petersen said. Hes a football guy, he really is. That being said, he just got out of high school, so we need to be patient, let this thing happen like its supposed to. He doesnt need to be our leading tackler this year.
Petersen left the door open for Martarano to play baseball in the summers if thats what he wants to do.
We said all along we wanted to do whats best for him, Petersen said. If baseball could fit in there and he could somehow make that work, hey, well look at that down the road. ... Joeys family was so great about the whole thing. It was such a good relationship. Whats best for him and what he wants to do, thats how hes going to have success. Hes all football right now, and well get him dialed in and see what the future holds.
Martarano, like all first-year freshmen on the team, is not available for interviews.
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Sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes is the likely starter at punt returner, a position coached by Petersen. He emphasizes ball security over playmaking. Coach Pete actually calls that position the best decision-maker, Williams-Rhodes said. When youre back there, youve got to be like the quarterback on the field youve got to make the best decision for the team, not for yourself. Said Petersen: Shane hasnt returned one for us, and so were trying to get him dialed into exactly the responsibility he has to be back there, but I think if we can get it in his hands hell make some things happen.
Petersens camper of the day was senior linebacker Jonathan Brown. Hes showing great senior leadership for us out here, and he brings a lot of energy to our defense, Petersen told BroncoSports.com.
Sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi, on the young tailbacks group: Were deep. Were all very talented. We all bring a different style of play to the running back position. Im excited for all of us to get out there and show what we can do.
Junior defensive end Demarcus Lawrence on the defense that must replace seven starters: We lost some great guys last year, but this year were coming back with more focus. Theres a lot of guys who want to stand up and play this year and cause havoc any chance we get.
The defensive line impressed Wednesday for the second straight day. It was the first day in shoulder pads. Lawrence and senior tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe have led the charge all week. They harassed starting quarterback Joe Southwick and backup Grant Hedrick throughout Wednesdays practice, which featured three game-like series. The defense forced two three-and-outs before walk-on tailback Charles Bertoli busted a 65-yard touchdown run, going untouched down the right sideline.
In the newcomers practice, true freshman tight end Jake Roh ran a couple nice routes, and redshirt freshman cornerback Chaz Anderson grabbed an interception.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat