Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series previewing the 2019 Boise State football team by position. The previews will appear throughout August. Check out the position-by-position roster here.
Spencer Danielson talks about the Boise State defensive linemen he coaches as if they were his children.
His words of praise and affection might make some of his big men laugh or roll their eyes, but no one is misinterpreting Danielson’s message.
“I love Coach D. He’s a great guy. He brings energy,” Boise State sophomore nose tackle Scale Igiehon said. “He tells us everyday that he loves us. He’s building a relationship with each and every one of us, and I just love working with him. Everybody loves working with him.
“... It just shows us that he’s all in, and we go to war behind him. He’s our leader and we’d do anything for him and he’ll do anything for us.”
If all goes as expected in fall camp, the Broncos will take the field Aug. 31 against Florida State with one of the most experienced defensive lines in sixth-year coach Bryan Harsin’s tenure.
Redshirt senior defensive tackle David Moa (6-3, 296) was granted a sixth year of eligibility after partially tearing an Achilles tendon during summer workouts in 2018. Moa has played hundreds of snaps alongside senior nose tackle Sonatane Lui (6-1, 283), senior defensive end Chase Hatada (6-3, 262), redshirt senior DT Matt Locher (6-2, 270) and senior NT Emmanuel Fesili (6-2, 312). The seniors have combined for 185 tackles, 34 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks over the course of their careers.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors. If you’re not a senior, you owe it to them for this to be the best year they’ve had,” Danielson said. “And if you are a senior, obviously if you have aspirations to play after this, you just never know. Nothing’s promised, so lay it out there and put your chips on the table and let this thing go.”
The depth on the Broncos’ D-line continues with the likes of Igiehon (6-2, 306), who played in 11 games last season with three starts as a true freshman, redshirt junior DT Jabari Watson (6-1, 269) and eight more underclassmen waiting for the slightest crack in the door.
“From my time being here, I think potential-wise, this is the best potential we could possibly have. But potential isn’t anything unless you do something with it,” Hatada said. “So we’ve just got to keep improving every day. We’ve got a very, very strong, quick and fast defensive line, so we’ll see what we can do with it.”
While Danielson has encouraged the tight bond among his group, he anticipates fall camp will test those bonds — but in a beneficial way.
“Just talking the D-line room in particular, there are 15 guys, and they’re extremely close. They love each other,” Danielson said. “But I’m excited now to where you do have to compete against each other, too. There’s always that fine line where it’s like: ‘I love you brother, but I’m coming for your spot.’ ”
Boise State’s front line wouldn’t be complete without its STUDs, a hybrid player who can serve as either a defensive end or outside linebacker. That position is led by the jovial but dangerous Curtis Weaver. The 6-3, 265-pound NFL prospect is tied for sixth all-time at Boise State with 20.5 career sacks. He was named the Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and has been an All-Mountain West first-team defensive lineman each of his two seasons.
Redshirt freshmen Demitri Washington (6-3, 254) and Dylan Herberg (6-2, 220) also play STUD along with true freshmen Casey Kline (6-4, 229) and Isaiah Bagnah (6-4, 237).
“I’m really excited about our defense and our front four. But at the end of the day you need depth, and especially there,” Danielson said. “They’re not playing every snap, and nowhere in the country has those guys play every rep, so the ones and twos and even sometimes those threes have to get in there and get some action.”