Bronco Beat

Avalos promoted to Boise State defensive coordinator

Boise State linebacker Joe Martarano celebrates with Boise State coach Andy Avalos after a stop against Washington at Albertsons Stadium in Boise on Sept. 4, 2015. Avalos is the Broncos’ new defensive coordinator.
Boise State linebacker Joe Martarano celebrates with Boise State coach Andy Avalos after a stop against Washington at Albertsons Stadium in Boise on Sept. 4, 2015. Avalos is the Broncos’ new defensive coordinator.

The Boise State football program has promoted linebackers coach Andy Avalos to defensive coordinator, the school announced Monday.

Avalos replaces Marcel Yates, who is taking a job as defensive coordinator at Arizona.

“One of the trademarks of our program has been the ability to hire from within and have coaches who are ready to take the next step, and who understand our culture and our commitment to winning both on the field and off,” coach Bryan Harsin said in a statement. “We have one of those in Andy Avalos, who will be our new defensive coordinator. He is more than ready for this as a leader, teacher and motivator of young men, and he brings a passion and intensity for the game that will set the tone for us defensively.”

Said Avalos: “I am thankful to Coach Harsin and Boise State for this opportunity. It is an awesome challenge that I couldn’t be more excited to be taking on. The Bronco Way has shaped me as a person, a player and a coach, and it is an unbelievable honor to now be able to share that same thing with our current and future players. Defensively, we will continue to build with the key players we return, and focus on developing our young guys. I can’t wait to get in the meeting room and on the field with our players.”

Statements on Yates:

Harsin: “It goes without saying that we wish Marcel the best of luck at Arizona. Above everything, Marcel is a friend, and we know what he has meant to our program as a player, assistant coach and defensive coordinator. When you are one of only two schools in the country to rank among the top 20 in scoring defense and scoring offense, you know that losing coaches is inevitable. We have a process and system others want to emulate, and we understand this is the nature of the business. But our mentality will never change. Our staff and players will continue to attack the future with great energy, focus and effort. That’s the Bronco Way.”

Yates: “I am extremely grateful to Coach Harsin and Boise State for all they have done for me personally and professionally. Arizona is a great opportunity for me to be a coordinator in the Pac-12 at a school and conference I have great respect for. To have this opportunity speaks volumes about my time at Boise State, and how people think about this program nationally. The Bronco culture and standard of excellence is as strong as ever. It’s a program bigger than any coach or player, and will be highly successful next year and years after because of the staff in place and the blue collar attitude of the players and program.”

Andy Avalos file

Age: 34

Hometown: Corona, Calif.

Playing career: Linebacker at Boise State (2000-04). He earned All-WAC first-team honors in 2003 and 2004. He made 365 career tackles, leading the team three times.

Coaching career: Corona (Calif.) High linebackers coach (2005), Colorado defensive graduate assistant (2006-08), Nebraska Kearney defensive line coach (2009-10), Sacramento State linebackers coach (2011), Boise State defensive line coach (2012-13), Boise State linebackers coach (2014-15).

Education: Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Boise State (2004), master’s degree in education from Colorado (2008)

Family: Wife, Summer; daughter, Paityn

Did you know? Avalos returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown in the 2004 Liberty Bowl against Louisville. That play has led to many jokes in the office. “He about died on that,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “It’s 75 yards down that hallway (in the coaches’ offices). He’s 65 yards from me, so I’m always asking if I should come down to see him. I know it’s a long way for him.”

Avalos profiles

From March 17, 2014:

By Chadd Cripe

© 2014 Idaho Statesman

If a Boise State linebacker wants to know what is expected of him, all he has to do is look at his coach.

Or his coach’s old game film.

New linebackers coach Andy Avalos stands among the program’s all-time greats at the position. He led the Broncos in tackles in 2002, 2003 and 2004, when the team went on a 36-3 run.

“He can say, which he probably won’t, ‘I did it this way, ‘ “ said defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, who was the cornerbacks coach for the latter years of Avalos’ playing career. “They can go into the archives and pick up his film.”

Avalos, 32, didn’t intend to coach when he graduated in 2004. He was going to become a detective. But he missed football and decided to coach linebackers at Corona (Calif.) High in his hometown in 2005.

He “got the bug” and set out to become a college linebackers coach instead.

And he knew where he’d like to land someday.

“If I had my choice, it would be at Boise State, “ he said, “so when this opportunity popped up and to be able to coach for coach (Bryan) Harsin and coach Yates and be back around a lot of these guys I’ve played with or who have coached me before or are my good friends, it was a great opportunity for me.”

Avalos returned to Boise State in 2012 to become the defensive line coach. He worked in tandem with then-defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski on the line.

Coach Chris Petersen offered Avalos the same assignment at Washington, Avalos said. Harsin trumped that by dangling the linebackers assignment.

Two months later, Avalos’ wife Summer gave birth to their first child, daughter Paityn.

“For us, it’s an ideal place to raise a family, “ Avalos said. “On the professional side, you want to be somewhere where you feel comfortable, where you have a good opportunity to win and be successful and all that. To be able to combine that with the opportunity to live in a great place - that’s what makes Boise State special.”

The other incentive for Avalos: the roster.

After several years of depth issues created by injuries and attrition, the Broncos are so loaded at the two linebacker positions that they didn’t sign any in the 2014 class.

The crew includes multiple-game starters Blake Renaud, Tyler Gray, Ben Weaver and Tanner Vallejo. Six of the nine linebackers, all of whom are on scholarship, still have at least three seasons of eligibility remaining.

“I got to know those guys a lot, even though I didn’t coach them last year, “ Avalos said. “I felt really, really good about the guys we’ve got coming back. They’re great people, good football players and fun guys to be around.”

Players say Avalos’ ability to connect with them - he’s a terrific recruiter for the same reason - made him a popular choice to remain on the staff.

They also like his attitude.

“He’s got a fire lit under his feet, “ Vallejo said.

And Avalos expects the same from his players.

“My ideal linebacker is a guy who’s very passionate about the game because I think you’ve got to be passionate about the game to play linebacker, “ Avalos said. “A guy who can run and change direction and loves the physical aspect of the game and the mental aspect of the game.”

That’s what Harsin, who had not worked with Avalos before, saw in Avalos as a player. Harsin was on staff for the last four of Avalos’ seasons as a player.

“He’s always been a hard worker, always been a guy with a chip on his shoulder, with something to prove, “ Harsin said. “He’s always been smart. He played that way. Being around him as a coach, not much has changed. For that linebacker group, he’s exactly what they need - not because he played that position, but because of his mentality.”

Avalos also has grown into a larger role in the staff room in the new regime. He has served as a sounding board for Yates, a first-time coordinator.

“I sit in his meetings a lot because I don’t want to sit in the (defensive backs) meetings because I’ll take over, “ Yates said. “He’s sharp. Because he played the position, he takes it personal. He’s very detailed. He has great ideas.

“He’s a star.”

From March 7, 2012:

By Chadd Cripe

© 2012 Idaho Statesman

Andy Avalos left enough of an impression on the Nebraska Kearney football team that defensive coordinator Bob Crocker credits him with helping the 2011 team - even though Avalos wasn’t there.

Avalos, who was the defensive line coach at Division II Nebraska Kearney in 2009 and 2010, is the new defensive line coach at his alma mater, Boise State. He spent the 2011 season as the linebackers coach at Sacramento State.

At Nebraska Kearney, Avalos became a significant contributor to the defensive scheme on a top-15 team.

“He was a difference-maker as far as, we had a really solid program before Andy got here, but he helped take it to a different level, “ said Crocker, who has been with the Lopers for seven seasons. “We had a great year both years he was here. ... There was a carryover for (2011), too. He left a really good mark on our program.”

Avalos, 30 and a former two-time All-WAC linebacker, never expected to coach. He graduated from Boise State in 2004 with a degree in criminal justice and thought he would use it.

Instead, he taught and coached at Corona (Calif.) High in 2005. “I missed the camaraderie of the football atmosphere, “ he said. “I got into coaching high school football and just got the bug.”

A year later, he joined many of his former Boise State coaches at Colorado as a defensive graduate assistant. He met the Nebraska Kearney coaches and landed the job there.

All the while, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins and Boise State coach Chris Petersen talked about how one of them should hire Avalos.

“As soon as that correct opening happened, I knew we’d get him back here, “ Petersen said.

Avalos interviewed for the staff opening in 2010, after coordinator Justin Wilcox left for Tennessee. Petersen hired Bob Gregory, then the defensive coordinator at Cal.

This time, Avalos was the clear target. There was no doubt about his interest, either.

“One of my serious goals was to hopefully get back to Boise State one day, “ Avalos said. “I obviously believe in what is going on here with the football program, with the university, and in what the athletic department stands for. It’s an unbelievable place to live. While I was away from here, I really never stopped bleeding that blue and orange.”

Avalos’ hiring allowed Petersen to take some strain off defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, who joined the staff in 2006 as defensive line coach and retained those duties when he became the coordinator in 2010.

Avalos will coach the ends; Kwiatkowski will coach tackles. They’ll keep the players together as one position group for meetings.

“He’s got some new ideas, some new ways to teach some things, “ Kwiatkowski said. “It will be good to be able to have another guy to take a little bit of a load off of me with those guys. We can switch back and forth between tackles and ends or he can have them all and I can go focus my attention in a different area.”

Avalos started working with linemen at Colorado. He coached outside linebackers, which eventually became more like ends as the Buffaloes transitioned to a 3-4 front. For tips, he sought out Kwiatkowski.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity to be working with him on an every-day basis, “ he said.

Korey Hall, the 2006 WAC Defensive Player of the Year who started at linebacker alongside Avalos as a freshman and sophomore, said he’s eager to watch Avalos coach. They remain close friends.

“He was kind of an all-business, tell-it-like-it-is player, “ Hall said. “It would be interesting to see him on the field coaching. If it reflects how he played, it will be pretty awesome.”

Avalos’ success on the field was a tribute to his knowledge of the game, Hall said.

“He was a real big mentor for me just coming in as a player who didn’t know a lot about the game, “ he said. “I really learned a lot from watching him play.”

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