Boise State added 10 new defensive players on Wednesday for the 2017 season. The Broncos added one defensive lineman, four linebackers and five defensive backs. They signed seven defensive lineman in 2016, so only needed one Wednesday, and it wasn’t easy to do.
We took a look at the offensive signees Thursday.
LB Breydon Boyd, 6-3, 215, Katy (Texas) High: Two-time All-District 19-6A selection (first team in 2016 and second team in 2015). ... team captain in 2016 and helped the team to eighth straight district title. ... helped lead Katy to Class 6A Division II title in 2015, a season in which he recorded 66 tackles and six sacks.
▪ Coming from one of the top programs in Texas, Boyd has been one of the Broncos’ most enthusiastic commits ever since doing so in June at the team’s camp. He was briefly committed to Iowa State in the spring, during which time he picked up an offer from Kansas State. Coach Bryan Harsin said he had a very unique home visit, as Boyd and his brother were proud to show off their knife collection and hunting trophies. Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos expects the rangy Boyd to play the inside spot where Tyler Gray, Ben Weaver and Leighton Vander Esch have thrived.
“We’ve been on Breydon for some time, he’s made a bunch of unofficial visits,” Avalos said. “... He’s a guy we can use inside, a guy we can use on the edge.”
CB Jermani Brown, 5-11, 175, Midlothian (Va.) High: Four-star recruit per ESPN, 247Sports, Rivals and Scout.com. ... all rank him as one of the top 30 cornerbacks in the country. ... first-team all-conference honors and was a Virginia All-Star Game selection in 2016. ... transferred from Calabasas (Calif.) High before his senior year. ... name is pronounced like Germany.
▪ Perhaps the team’s most highly-touted signee, Brown previously had a strong relationship with the Boise State staff when he attended high school in California, moving before his senior year because of a new job for his mother. Cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose said he took three trips to Virginia to secure Brown’s signature, as Virginia, Virginia Tech and Michigan State were showing interest. Coaches praised his playmaking abilities and could be an immediate factor in the return game.
“I think it’s a big catch for us,” Ambrose said. “He had teams banging on him ... I knew it was going to be a tough one to hold on to.
“When you can hold onto a kid of this caliber, it says a lot. Phenomenal athlete, I’m excited to coach him.”
CB Marques Evans, 6-0, 170, Newbury Park High (Pasadena, Calif.): First-team All-Camino League honors his junior and senior seasons, in addition to earning all-county honors both seasons. ... recorded 38 tackles (28 solo), two interceptions, 10 pass breakups, one fumble recovery and a blocked field goal as a senior on defense. ... on offense, caught eight passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
▪ An early enrollee, Evans is one of a few high school defensive back additions that also played offense. He is a longtime friend of Brown, and quarterback Chase Cord said they immediately struck a close friendship while on their official visits together.
“(Running backs coach) Lee Marks, he showed me his film and I was like ‘this guy is intriguing,’” Ambrose said. “He was just one of those guys where you’re like ‘I like this guy.’ ... you’ve got to find that gem a Power Five school’s not going to take, and I feel like he’s that guy.”
DB Tyreque Jones, 6-2, 180, San Gorgonio High (San Bernardino, Calif.): Was a first-team All-Sun selection as a utility player on defense. ... in his senior season, racked up 77 total tackles, picked off two passes and caused two fumbles on defense, while hauling in 52 receptions for 1,128 yards and 16 touchdowns as a wide receiver. ... had 14 tackles and two forced fumbles in section championship win.
▪ A highly-productive safety, coach Gabe Franklin said he was excited by Jones’ physical nature, along with his ability to catch the ball and make things happen. Jones also was the source of one of the staff’s favorite visits, as his mother is a chef, and cooked up what can only be described as a vat of gumbo, along with some crab legs. Harsin said he was trying to crack open a leg, and wound up knocking a bowl of gumbo all over himself.
“He’ll come down and smack you,” Franklin said. “... a phenomenal athlete, great young man.”
LB Roman Kafentzis, 6-2, 185, Mater Dei High (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.): First-team Trinity All-League selection in 2016. ... registered 49 total tackles his senior season, 38 of which were solo. ... helped Mater Dei to a 13-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking, according to MaxPreps.com in 2016. ... finished prep career with 102 total tackles and three interceptions.
▪ Coming from a family that has a long history of playing at the University of Hawaii, it was a bit of a coup for the staff to nab Kafentzis, who will start working at the strongside spot recently occupied by Tanner Vallejo. The team had a bit of an assist, as basketball coach Leon Rice played high school football with Kafentzis’ father, Kurt. On his son’s official visit, Kurt took a spill while sledding and Harsin said “he gave us advice that we should wear helmets up there.”
“He played safety as a junior and moved into more of a linebacker position as a senior, and let me tell you, when we saw him as a linebacker ... it was a no-brainer,” Avalos said. “We got a guy here, Roman, that’s been bleeding blue for some time now.”
DB Kekaula Kaniho, 6-0, 180, Kahuku (Hawaii) High: Honolulu Star-Advertiser Defensive Player of the Year. ... led the defense on a Kahuku team that finished 11-2 and made it to the state championship game. ... finished senior season with 26.5 total tackles, six interceptions, with five returned for touchdowns (one behind national single-season record).
▪ Franklin went and saw Kaniho play against national power Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas in September, and despite Kahuku’s loss, he came away impressed. Some of the staff saw him score one of those touchdowns in the state semifinals the night before the Broncos played at Hawaii in November.
“He’s all about family, fantastic student, wants to be part of the engineering program, build prosthetics,” Harsin said. “... He’s a little bit undersized, he’s going to put weight on and all that. As far as a pure football player, he can do it, along with all the other things on top of that.”
STUD Aisa Kelemete, 6-3, 225, Highland High (Pocatello): Missed the first three games of 2016 to injury, returned and was named to the 5A All-Idaho first team. ... recorded 3.5 sacks and 28 tackles over seven games in 2016. ... named to the Idaho State Journal’s All-Area first team in 2015 after recording 32 tackles and 7.0 sacks. ... two-time all-conference selection.
▪ Avalos was the one that woke up Kelemete on Wednesday morning with a 7:15 a.m. phone call, 15 minutes after the earliest time he could sign his NLI. After getting an offer from USC on Tuesday night, coaches were confident they’d still land the in-state recruit, but were still relieved when he sent it in. Kelemete committed to Boise State in July, but flipped to Washington State in December. Cougar defensive line coach Joe Salave’a left for Oregon, and Kelemete re-committed to the Broncos on an official visit last month. Even after committing to WSU, he told defensive line coach Steve Caldwell he wanted to stay in touch and still wanted to take his visit. Caldwell visited him every week during the timeframe when home visits were allowed. Harsin said when he re-committed, it was an “emotional” meeting.
“He said this was his family and wanted to be a part of it, and we’re dang well excited about it,” Caldwell said.
LB Zeke Noa, 6-0, 220, Helix High (Spring Valley, Calif.): Two-time CIF San Diego Section Defensive Player of the Year and East County Defensive Player of the Year. ... team captain in 2016 and recorded 92 tackles with 9.5 sacks and intercepted a pass. ... scored nine touchdowns on offense, with 792 yards from scrimmage as tight end/running back.
▪ One of the top players on one of San Diego’s best teams, Noa is projected as a true middle linebacker for the Broncos. Coaches visited him just before he underwent knee surgery in January, something that helped secure his commitment. Harsin said they were eating at Denny’s when Noa told him he wanted to be a Bronco.
“Zeke’s a middle linebacker who’s got tremendous, tremendous instict,” Avalos said. “Very athletic ... we told the offense they could use him only in the red zone, where he scores touchdowns. We’ll keep him the rest of the time. (We’re excited) to bring that athleticism to the defensive side of the ball.”
LB Riley Whimpey, 6-2, 210, San Clemente (Calif.) High: Initially signed with the Broncos in 2015, was rated No. 15 outside linebacker in California by Scout.com. ... earned spot on All-Orange County first team from the Orange County Register. ... set the San Clemente record with 172 tackles in 2014, leading the Tritons to the league title. ... spent first three years as a prep at Lone Peak High in Utah.
▪ After two years on a church mission in Milwaukee, Whimpey is set to join the Broncos this summer. A prolific tackler in high school, Avalos said the staff is excited to get him in as an atypical true freshman, one with a little more maturity. Recent returned missionaries Darren Lee, Durrant Miles and Kekoa Nawahine played immediately.
“We’ll be excited to get him back here, get him rolling,” Avalos said. “He was a guy that was very tough to get two years ago, there were a couple Pac-12 schools that tried to come in like ninjas in the middle of the night and snatch him up.”
CB Michael Young, 6-0, 205, Dodge City CC (Kansas City): Rated No. 12 at his position nationally amongst junior college prospects, according to 247Sports. ... as a redshirt sophomore, registered 42 tackles (28 solo) and three tackles for loss, also forced a pair of fumbles and recovered one, in addition to recording two interceptions, three pass breakups and three blocked kicks.
▪ Young played safety and cornerback at Dodge City, but the Broncos think he can be a good-sized cornerback, likely playing on the boundary side. Ambrose has a connection on the staff, as then-receivers coach Gunnard Twyner and he played together for the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Mike’s a bigger body, but he has the feet, he has the speed to play corner,” Ambrose said. “... we’re going to have a lot of competition at the cornerback position.”