Orlando Scandrick has a nice contract playing for America’s team and in the past notoriously failed to mention Boise State as his alma mater.
Jeron Johnson was known for his huge hits, has a Super Bowl ring, and has a chance to earn a starting spot in Washington.
Kyle Wilson was a valued first-round pick, underperformed in New York, and is now looking for redemption in New Orleans.
There is one man that has flown under the radar that is an alumnus of Boise State’s celebrated secondary. A man that is on the cusp of becoming an elite safety in the NFL.
Welcome to the big time, George Iloka.
Now entering his fourth year in the league, Iloka has become an important piece of the Cincinnati Bengals defense. Though the unit took a step back in 2014 from their top-five ranking in 2013, Iloka has quietly become a leader for this young Bengals team.
After playing sparingly in his rookie season, Iloka has become a fixture in the Bengals lineup. He has started every game for the Bengals the last two seasons.
In 2014, Iloka made 74 tackles and had three interceptions. In a week two victory over the Falcons, Iloka picked off Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan twice.
Iloka’s game-high for tackles was nine, which he accomplished in a late season loss to the Patriots.[JasonAD]
Iloka’s rise to prominence should come as no surprise to Boise State fans. He excelled in his four years of roaming the secondary on the blue turf. Iloka started most of his games at free safety and showed great versatility in his time at Boise State but he was often overshadowed by the likes of Wilson, Johnson, and Jamar Taylor.
Iloka is using the same strong work ethic and football acumen in his rise to the status of elite NFL safety. As a comparison, one can look to the numbers of All-Pro safety T.J. Ward of the Denver Broncos. In 2014, Ward had 74 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 sacks, numbers nearly identical to those of Iloka. Perhaps with a bit more national exposure, Iloka might have been given more consideration for All-Pro status.
The Bengals picked up A.J. Hawk in free agency and are hoping for Geno Atkins to return to his havoc wreaking self of 2013. Iloka’s steady improvement at strong safety should continue to pay dividends, making Bengals fans happy and Boise State fans proud.
The Bengals are set to open up camp on July 31 and start their regular season on September 13 when they visit the Oakland Raiders.