Chanceller James, nickel
James played two full games as a starting safety last season. He led the Broncos with 13 tackles against Air Force as an injury replacement and ranked second with nine tackles against San Diego State after winning a job the previous week.
And now he moves to nickel, the ultimate playmaking position in the Broncos’ defense.
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It’s no wonder expectations are high that he will be a breakout performer in 2015, coming off the torn anterior cruciate ligament that ended his sophomore season in November. James beat out senior Mercy Maston for the job.
At 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, James brings an imposing presence to the position.
“He made plays,” defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said. “He’s a smart kid. He loves the game. He watches film. He’s in there every day on his own. ... He looks good out there, also.”
Jeremy McNichols, tailback
Coach Bryan Harsin called him the future of the backfield in December — words that proved prophetic as McNichols won the starting job in fall camp. He’ll share time with senior Kelsey Young and junior Devan Demas.
The most productive back will continue to get the ball. McNichols, who gained 314 yards on 32 offensive touches last season as a true freshman, could be the Broncos’ next offensive star.
“He’s very good with the ball in his hands,” running backs coach Lee Marks said. “He can just do a little bit of everything, which makes us very versatile. ... But at the same time, he’s very good at running old-school power and being a downhill runner, too. That’s going to be a little bit different for defenses to plan for.”
Chaz Anderson, wide receiver
After the Broncos didn’t throw him the ball in an October game against Fresno State last season, Anderson’s ability to stretch the defense with his speed became a key cog in their game plan.
He recorded a reception of at least 36 yards in five of the final seven games, including a 57-yard touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl. He averaged 21.7 yards per catch (21 for 456), which would have ranked fifth nationally if he would have had enough receptions to qualify.
That was in his first year as a college receiver after coming to Boise State as a cornerback.
He expanded his game in the offseason.
“Being more versatile receivers is something we take to heart,” he said. “We accomplished that. ... I don’t want to be the guy to boast or anything like that. I’m very confident, I’m excited and I’m really looking forward to playing with these two other great receivers (Thomas Sperbeck and Shane Williams-Rhodes) by my side.”
Jeff Lindquist, K.J. Carta-Samuels and Jake Browning, quarterbacks
Washington coach Chris Petersen won’t unveil his starting quarterback until game day. Speculation has centered on Browning, the highly touted true freshman who has drawn comparisons to former Boise State QB Kellen Moore.
“We took about as much time as we could deciding what we were going to do,” Petersen told Seattle reporters Wednesday. “We feel very good about it.”
Browning, who joined the team in January, set or tied national high school records for TD passes in a season (91) and career (229).
Moore’s knowledge of the game before he moved to campus and interest in meetings as soon as he arrived set him apart.
“Jake has been a lot like that,” Petersen said in April.
Lindquist, a junior, started one game last season. Carta-Samuels, a redshirt freshman who also considered Boise State during his recruiting process, is the younger brother of former Wyoming quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.
Travis Feeney, defensive end
A veteran holdover on a rebuilding defense, Feeney leads returning Huskies with career totals of 191 tackles, four interceptions, 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He slides into the buck end position this year after playing linebacker previously.
Buck is the Huskies’ version of the stud end Boise State uses. Feeney replaces Hau’oli Kikaha, who finished with 19 sacks last year.
“(Feeney) is long, he’s fast, he’s explosive,” defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.
Budda Baker, safety
Baker, one of the West’s top recruits in 2014, started every game as a true freshman. He made 80 tackles.
The former Washington state champion in the 100 meters, 200 and 4x100 relay will get the ball this year as a kickoff returner.
“He is pretty explosive with the ball in his hands,” Petersen said, according to the News Tribune. “He did some unbelievable things over there at Bellevue (High) as an offensive player as well.”