Daniel Auelua knows he has to make the most of this fall camp, since it will in all likelihood be his last.
The senior defensive tackle at Boise State joined the team in spring 2016 from Mesa (Ariz.) Community College and played in all 13 games, making nine tackles while knocking down a pair of passes. He is currently listed as junior David Moa’s backup on the initial depth chart.
After the Broncos relied on their starters heavily last fall, a player like Auelua (6-foot-1, 298 pounds) will be important to getting the defense to operate as well as the staff hopes.
“Going through a whole year, I’ve been able to really grasp the plays, I’m comfortable, confident knowing the calls, the checks,” Auelua said. “I had to do a lot of film on my own last year. It was like a chicken with my head cut off. They put me in with the vets right away, but I started to catch on.”
Auelua also has another reason to be motivated this fall camp. His defensive line coach at Mesa, Ben McIvor, died Saturday night following an altercation at a Phoenix-area bar. McIvor was married and had three children: a 15-year-old and five-month-old twins.
“I took it to heart pretty bad, because he’s the guy who helped get me here,” Auelua said. “He taught me everything I know, kept on me to make sure my grades were good, everything was right off the field. It hit me hard. I’m definitely dedicating this fall camp to him.”
I’ll have more soon from Auelua for a story on the Broncos’ influx of Polynesian players on the defensive side of the ball.