He’s bounced around to different positions, gone from backup to starter to backup to (likely) starter in his four seasons at Boise State. It all has helped senior defensive end Sam McCaskill prepare for this.
McCaskill is the most experienced member of the defensive line, with 37 games under his belt and 13 starts, all in 2014. All four starters from 2015 have moved on, and eight signees enter the fold, putting some added responsibilities onto McCaskill’s shoulders.
“You can’t take a snap off, because the young guys see you take a snap off, then they feel like they can do it,” McCaskill said. “You need to hold yourself to that standard so you can set the bar high for them. That’s one of the things I’ve tried to hold myself to, never take a rep off, never show weakness.”
Helping along the younger players has been part of McCaskill’s development beyond his own on-field work, which has helped perhaps give them a leg up in contributing early.
“Sam’s done a phenomenal job with every single one of those guys,” senior linebacker Ben Weaver said. “We need more than just four guys, and I think he’s been a leader, helping close that gap between the first, second, third group.”
McCaskill has 50 tackles, four sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss in his career. He moved from end to tackle in 2014, when Tyler Horn was lost for the season after the Broncos’ opener. Coaches are expecting him to be a more prevalent force as a senior.
“He’s going to be a very productive player for us,” defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “... Sam’s about as high of a standard as we’ve had come through here in a long time. We ask who’s going to emerge from the young guys, they have a great role model right there. You want to see what it looks like? Watch him.”
Said defensive line coach Steve Caldwell: “The defense, our whole football team, looks up to him.”
LOOK TOUGH, PLAY TOUGH?
When junior tight end Jake Roh showed up for interviews Friday, he was sporting a new look. Fall camp can sometimes be a place where the routine needs to be broken up. The tight ends did that pretty early.
Roh had a beard style that can perhaps be best described as Wolverine meets biker/shaved around the chin, but going strong elsewhere.
“(Junior) Alec Dhaenens, we live together. He came downstairs last night with this, so I was like, ‘Now everyone has to do it,’ ” Roh said. “The young guys couldn’t do it, because they can’t grow facial hair yet.”
FORMER BRONCO SIGNS WITH CHIEFS
The list of former Boise State players in the NFL has continued to grow as training camps have started.
Free agent safety Jeron Johnson signed with Kansas City on Friday. Johnson went undrafted in 2011, spent four seasons with the Seahawks and last season with the Redskins.
Defensive end Billy Winn, who played for the Indianapolis Colts last season, signed with the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Lee Hightower, a safety who played for Boise State in 2011 and 2012 before transferring to Houston, signed with the Colts on Tuesday.
There are 24 former Boise State players in training camp.
Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_BroncoBeat