We’re counting down the days to the Boise State football team’s first spring practice with daily blog posts on players to watch. Spring ball begins March 9 and ends with the Spring Game on April 11.
7. LB Tanner Vallejo
Vallejo finished his true sophomore season on a hardware binge - winning the defensive MVP honors in the Mountain West championship game (13 tackles, three tackles for loss, interception, TD) and Fiesta Bowl (14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss).
He led the team with 100 tackles on the season, including 16.5 tackles for loss - the most by a linebacker in the Broncos' Football Bowl Subdivision era.
But as productive as Vallejo was, his role is a bit of a mystery going into spring football. He spent most of last season at strong-side linebacker, replacing the nickel because of the Broncos' lack of depth in the secondary and extra bodies at linebacker. Coaches still slid him into his old home at middle linebacker in certain situations to take advantage of his instincts inside the tackle box.
Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates has made it clear he'd like to play with five defensive backs, including one at nickel. That would push Vallejo back to middle linebacker. Sophomore Joe Martarano, who came on strong late last season, is the other option in the middle. Blake Renaud, who shared the middle with Martarano last season, has exhausted his eligibility.
If nothing else, Vallejo gives the Broncos enviable flexibility. For the right matchup, or if injuries mount in the secondary again, he can play outside.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.