Boise State needs a new poster boy.
The one the program used for the past four years, all-everything linebacker Korey Hall, is moving on. But not before leaving behind a legacy for work ethic, love of football and play-making that represented everything good about the Broncos.
"If you look it up in the encyclopedia, this is what we want Boise State football to look like, those are the guys," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. "He's the toughest player I've ever been around."
Said linebackers coach Viliami Tuivai, "That guy's the standard. ... Everything you talk about when you talk about Bronco football — toughness, intensity, going hard, always appreciating the moment — that's Korey Hall."
Hall, who started his school record-tying 52nd game in the Broncos' Fiesta Bowl victory, also leaves a huge void in the middle of the Boise State defense. The WAC defensive player of the year and a three-time All-WAC performer, Hall led the Broncos in tackles each of the past two season. He topped the team in interceptions this year, too. He finished his career as the No. 4 tackler in school history.
"Korey Hall is the heart and soul of our team and our defense," BSU coach Chris Petersen said. "And when that guy is making plays, everybody feeds off him."
Hall never stopped making plays — in practice, in the biggest games, on defense or on special teams. In practice, Hall volunteered for every assignment on the scout team. In games, he demanded to be put on special teams, where he often made tackles.
"If you try to take him off of special teams, it's like you kicked his dog," Wilcox said.
Fittingly, the blue-collar player was a construction management major. He's at ease with a hard hat. A 6-foot-1, 228-pounder from Glenns Ferry, Hall didn't want to waste a moment.
"I still love to be out there. I love to play. I love the competition," Hall said during the season. "That's something I'm going to miss and I already know I'm going to miss it. I want to make the most of every opportunity I have left."
Hall certainly did that, never cheating himself or his team by taking a play off. In the Fiesta Bowl, Hall deflected a Paul Thompson pass into the arms of Marty Tadman, whoreturned it for an interception and a 28-10 lead.
He was just as adept at deflecting attention. The small-town boy never developed a big head, even as the honors, awards and praise poured in.
"My parents, I think they did a great job raising me," Hall said. "If I ever needed something, I could get it. But they did a good job explaining the difference between needing and wanting something. For me, we always had to work hard. ... But on the same note, we played hard, too, and that's something that stuck with me."
Hall's days of playing hard likely aren't finished. And once the Broncos' poster boy gets into an NFL camp, it will be awfully hard for anyone to send him home.
And maybe Boise State won't need a new poster boy, after all.