BSU camp report: MW sack king learning to be a leader

Demarcus Lawrence is ready to take over because ‘I feel like the team will follow me.’

ccripe@idahostatesman.comAugust 9, 2013 

Boise State's Demarcus Lawrence (8) picks up a fumble and returns it for a touchdown Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii

CHRIS BUTLER — Idaho Statesman file

  • Spotlight on DE Kharyee Marshall

    Kharyee Marshall has endured four painful, frustrating years to reach his senior season.

    He has missed parts of the last two seasons and three of four spring practice sessions, including this past spring, because of injuries — two to his shoulders and two to his knees.

    He entered this fall camp healthy and among the top contenders for playing time at the stud end position, which is the hybrid position that requires a combination of run-stuffing, pass-rushing and pass-defending skills.

    “The only thing I can do is stay positive about it,” Marshall said of his experience at Boise State. “If I stay positive, then I know my mind’s going to be, ‘OK, I can do this. I can get on the field and work my butt off and get back to where I want to be.’ ”

    Marshall made a career-high 18 tackles last season. He injured a shoulder just before halftime in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, which forced him to miss spring ball.

    He’s one of five players competing at stud — junior Tyler Horn, who also plays tackle; redshirt freshman Sam McCaskill; and true freshmen Kamalei Correa and Gabe Perez are the others.

    Marshall knows he’s got a big opportunity in front of him. He also knows he has to make up for a lot of lost practice time.

    “I’m just out there trying to improve and get better every day,” he said. “There’s a lot I still need to work on. I was out in the spring, so I didn’t really get a chance to work on my technique with the other guys.”

    And whatever his role on game day, he must deliver some leadership. He’s the only senior end and one of just two senior linemen (tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe is the other).

    “Shea (McClellin) helped me when I was young,” Marshall said of the NFL first-round pick. “Now I’m starting to help these young guys while I’m a senior. That’s what has helped us get better each and every year.”

    The line has served as the backbone of the Broncos’ dominant defense over the past five years. Most of those stars are gone, but the edge remains.

    “We’re hungry,” Marshall said.

    —Chadd Cripe

Boise State junior defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is following a self-improvement plan this year.

More focus. More maturity. More consistency. More polish.

And if the first four days of fall camp are any indication, more havoc.

Lawrence, who led the Mountain West with 9.5 sacks last season but missed two games because of team-rules violations, is determined to take a big step this fall.

“We talk about staying hungry all the time — stay humble, but we’ve got to stay hungry, too,” defensive line coach Andy Avalos said. “That’s the approach he’s brought out here so far this camp. And it’s exciting to see a guy who’s had the success he’s had, and yet he still comes out and works the way he does day in and day out. He’s setting a good example for the younger guys in our group.”

Lawrence is on the watch list for three major awards — the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player), Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker) and Ted Hendricks Award (best defensive end).

He joined the Broncos in January 2012 out of Butler Community College in Kansas. Like many junior college transfers, his transition was bumpy at times.

“This year is more a focused period, because last year coming in I had to learn a lot, learn my tools,” he said. “And now this year I know it all, so I have to focus on getting better every day.”

The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder made significant gains in the weight room and used the offseason to learn the details of his position.

“He loves to watch the film,” Avalos said. “That’s a guy right there who loves watching football. He’s constantly breaking himself down, the things he can get better at.”

One of those: leadership.

Lawrence is one of four returning starters on defense and the only returning All-Mountain West first-teamer.

He’s the centerpiece of a line that likely will feature at least a couple players in their first year in the program, like he was last year.

“I want to be a better leader because I feel like the team will follow me,” he said. “If I come in and show that I want to work, they’re going to want to work, so I have to step up and come to the plate.”

News and notes

• Junior Tyler Horn played end for most of his first two years at Boise State and shifted to tackle late last season after the injury to Mike Atkinson. Horn remained at tackle in the spring but is working at the stud end position this fall after the loss of Freshman All-American Sam Ukwuachu.

Horn’s final position will be determined by where he is needed most, coaches say.

“T-Horn’s awesome,” Avalos said. “Last year, he played every position across the front. Does he necessarily have the weight to play inside? Not ideal. But he does a great job when he jumps in there. And he’s got the athleticism when we put him on the edge. We do do a fair amount of stuff on defense. For him to be able to handle all that stuff mentally speaks volumes to his preparation.”

• Sophomore right guard Marcus Henry, who has been with the first team since the spring, was coach Chris Petersen’s camper of the day. Redshirt freshman Mario Yakoo is pushing him. “Marcus has been competing very hard, and he has been working his tail off since last spring,” Petersen told BroncoSports.com. “He certainly showed up today.”

• The Broncos begin practicing as a full team and in full pads Friday morning.

Camp impressions

• Redshirt freshman stud end Sam McCaskill, who had a strong spring, continues to cause problems as a pass rusher. He recorded a sack, forced fumble and pass breakup Thursday.

• The first-team offense drove into field-goal range during a game-like drive. Junior Dan Goodale capitalized with a 37-yard field goal. The defense won the battle among second-teamers.

• Junior cornerback Deon’tae Florence made the catch of the day, a leaping interception just outside the goal line. He stuck one foot just inside the sideline.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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