Boise State junior defensive end Kamalei Correa doesn’t consider his breakout 2014 season a peak.
“That’s just a level ground right there,” he said. “That’s something to build off of. ... I’m not going to live off the past.”
He also isn’t going to live in the future.
Correa’s sudden success last year – he led the Mountain West with 12 sacks and the Broncos with 19 tackles for loss – has fueled speculation that he will follow tailback Jay Ajayi’s early-entry path to the NFL.
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Correa is younger than Ajayi – he hasn’t redshirted, so he’s only two years removed from high school – but he possesses one of the most demanded skills in the NFL: He can pressure the quarterback.
CBSSports.com ranks Correa as the No. 8 outside linebacker prospect for the 2016 draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. lists Correa as the No. 5 defensive end among underclassmen.
Correa said his focus is on each day’s practice and not his pro future.
“We can focus on that question a little later,” he said. “... It’s hard to grasp. It’s always been a dream of mine, an aspiration, but I kind of just like to take it day by day. I’m just trying to focus on this next practice we have in a few hours. The NFL is not really right here, in my mind, right now.”
The 6-foot-3, 248-pound Hawaiian got stronger and faster during the summer, he said. He is on a quest to find the consistency he lacked last year (he still finished fifth on the team in tackles with 59).
He also has tried to provide leadership. He plays stud end alongside junior Gabe Perez. The other two studs are redshirt freshmen Jabril Frazier and Kaleb Hill.
“This year is just an improvement year,” Correa said.
Said defensive line coach Steve Caldwell: “Any time you’re having success, that helps you. The thing we’ve got to make sure is he grows on that and doesn’t stay the same.”
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The Broncos were scheduled for their first practice in full pads Monday. They have a two-a-day Tuesday and portions of both practices will be open to the media.
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The latest addition to the banner crew that will be honored on the east exterior of Albertsons Stadium: wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes with the word “conviction.”
He joins safety Darian Thompson (“discipline”) and center Marcus Henry (“toughness”). The fourth player will be named Tuesday, when work begins to hang the banners.