The secondary of the Boise State football team will be anchored by a young unit, with only one senior listed on the initial depth chart.
A long line of NFL worthy players have patrolled the secondary for the Boise State Broncos football team over the years.
To be successful in 2017, a young unit led by Tyler Horton and DeAndre Pierce will need to gel quickly. Do that and they may very well find themselves building towards joining the storied ranks of past defensive backfields.
The Mountain West–a season removed from being a running back heavy league–will feature a bevy of experienced quarterbacks. And this doesn’t even included the likes of Washington State’s Luke Falk or BYU’s Tanner Mangum.
The past few seasons have seen a Boise State secondary prone to giving up big plays. The secondary has still been above average during this time, but also struggled in the ball-hawking department.
2016 saw the Broncos dip even lower by snagging only seven interceptions. Five of those picks were by people who graduated, with Horton being the only returning member of the secondary to have one in ’16. (Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch had the other.)
Horton and Pierce look to change that in 2017.
Now a junior, Horton started last season for Boise State. He made 35 tackles, had 10 pass-deflections, and his lone interception was a memorable one.
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) September 11, 2016
Pierce–a sophomore listed as a starting safety on the initial depth chart–saw a fair amount of action as a freshman. He locked up 19 tackles with two pass deflections.
Overall, the group of safeties has more on-field experience, but it will be Horton and his fellow corners in which heavy scrutiny might be placed.
Secondary depth will come in handy in ’17
The Boise State secondary will likely be a mix of experience, pedigree, and rising stars. The collection of players–newcomers and youngsters alike–will be also led by one senior.
Cameron Hartsfield has been a key reserve during his time at Boise State. He made 65 tackles during his junior year. Even if he doesn’t earn the starting position at boundary safety, Hartsfield should see the field a lot.
Penciled in ahead of him on the depth chart is Kekoa Nawahine. A sophomore, Nawahine played in all 12 games in 2016, including one start. He made 21 tackles and had a six-tackle performance against Air Force.
Tentatively backing up Pierce at the field safety position is redshirt freshman Jordan Happle. Evan Tyler, who started the first three games of 2016 before a knee-injury ended his season, was also supposed to be in the mix. Unfortunately, another ACL injury will force Tyler to miss 2017 as well.
Horton’s tentative backup at the field corner also saw action last season. Sophomore Reid Harrison-Ducros made nine tackles and is also a player that should see plenty of game action.
Starting opposite of Horton will most likely be junior college transfer Michael Young. Young had 42 tackles last season to go along with two forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Jalen Walker, a redshirt freshman, is penciled in as Young’s backup.
Green as they might be in certain areas, the Boise State secondary is yearning to make some noise. Passing attacks will be heavily favored this season and the Broncos have the depth to withstand it.
To rise to an elite level, it starts with Horton and Pierce. The two of them have a chance to form quite the duo for Boise State. And perhaps snag an interception (or six) along the way.