Safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner arrived at Boise State in January 2014 as perhaps the most hyped recruit in school history.
Even he thought he could make a smooth transition to college football.
“I got humbled,” he said.
Coaches eased Sumner-Gardner into action during his true freshman season. They withheld him from the opener against Ole Miss and limited him to occasional series on defense in the remaining 13 games.
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As he prepares for a likely starting job as a sophomore, Sumner-Gardner appreciates the way he was handled last year. He was a top-100 recruit out of West Mesquite (Texas) High.
“I just thank all of the coaches for getting me used to the game instead of just throwing me in there, just a hotheaded true freshman,” said Sumner-Gardner, a former Texas A&M commit who followed defensive coordinator Marcel Yates to Boise State. “But now I’m more calm and more relaxed.”
Sumner-Gardner, who made 19 tackles last season, turned a corner in spring ball when he moved into the first-team role. Junior Chanceller James, the other candidate for the job, was out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and now is playing nickel.
The game slowed down, Sumner-Gardner said, and he learned the playbook to the point that he could rely on instincts. Last year, he said, he was on the field thinking about the gravity of where he was.
“I feel like I can play well on this level now,” he said.
So do his coaches.
“He’s had a tremendous summer,” defensive backs coach Julius Brown said. “He’s off to a great start in fall camp, so we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
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