It’s rare that Boise State football coaches go into fall camp expecting a true freshman to play at a predetermined position, but that’s the situation at cornerback this year.
The Broncos only had three scholarship cornerbacks in spring ball – starters Donte Deayon and Jonathan Moxey and junior college transfer Raymond Ford.
That leaves plenty of room for the four true freshmen who arrived this summer to contribute immediately. That group includes Tyler Horton, Donzale Roddie, Ladarryl Blair and Darreon Jackson. Jackson was recruited as a safety but is playing corner in camp.
“It’s a process,” defensive backs coach Julius Brown said. “They are starting to understand how we do things now.”
The group was recruited with the lure of making a quick impact. Many true freshman cornerbacks have contributed at Boise State – including Deayon and Moxey – and the need this year was obvious.
“All those guys took it to heart,” Brown said. “They are out there working their butts off every single day.”
Horton and Jackson have impressed so far, Brown said.
“(Horton) came in very humble, working hard, and he’s gravitating to the older guys and they are helping him out and he’s starting to pick things up pretty quick,” Brown said.
“(Jackson) is another kid who competes hard. He’s tough. ... I’m anxious to see a scrimmage and see what those guys do in live action.”
Brown likes the chemistry of the group.
“They are a tight-knit group and that’s good to see,” he said. “Some guys are going to have a chance to play, some guys are going to have to redshirt. But they are all helping each other out and it’s pretty neat to watch.”
Deayon and Moxey have helped the freshmen make a quick transition, Brown said.
“I made it a point this summer,” he said. “I let those guys know in (player-run practices) and summer workouts you guys have to lead these young guys and teach them how we do things. They’ve gravitated to them and it’s been good to see.”
Other notes from Brown:
– On Ford: “He’s a very physical player and he’s very fast. He was able to get his feet wet in spring ball. Now it’s fully grasping everything we’re trying to do because obviously the playbook gets a lot bigger in the fall. But he’s doing a good job. He’s a kid who competes really hard and I’m anxious to see how he develops over the next couple weeks.”
– On safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner: “He’s off to a great start in fall camp.”
– He said having defensive coordinator Marcel Yates coach safeties has made it easier to teach the defense to the newcomers. “We’re able to teach stuff at a slower pace,” Brown said.
– On safety Chanceller James’ recovery from a torn ACL: “Chance is a strong kid. He’s strong-minded. I remember when he got hurt, obviously he was devastated. ... He’s just really focused and he’s tough. He wasn’t going to let this slow him down.”
– On Deayon: “He can take another step and me and him met on those things. He’s done a lot of things, but he has a lot of personal goals, too. And I know what those are, so we have to continue to work to get him to those goals. He’s a very driven kid. Every day for him is game day and I really like that about him and I want him to pass that down to some of the younger guys.”
– On the cornerbacks: “We didn’t have one first-team all-league corner last year, so for those guys they’ve got to come out and work. I think they do that every single day. The thing that I trust is that they’re going to prepare. That’s the key for me. Whether you’re Donte or Moxey or a true freshman, I need to know that you’re prepared going into the game. As long as those guys continue to prepare and develop, I think they have a chance to have a good year.”
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Deayon is the fourth and final player on a banner this season. Installation began Tuesday on the east exterior of Albertsons Stadium. Deayon’s word: Relentless. The other honorees are safety Darian Thompson (discipline), center Marcus Henry (toughness) and wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes (conviction).
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Williams-Rhodes is ranked as the No. 21 “freak” in college football by Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com. He is the smallest man on the list and one of the quickest, but he also squatted 500 pounds three times.
Here is more on Williams-Rhodes from last month.