By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
I’m running a series of blog posts breaking down each position on the Boise State football team. I’ll try to hit a new position after each practice.
Previously: Offensive line
Today: Tight ends/fullbacks.
Returning starters (1 of 2): Dan Paul, who started in 2010 but missed all of 2011 with a groin injury, returns this season. He was able to redshirt in 2011 because he played as a true freshman. He has 11 catches for 70 yards and three touchdowns in his career and is expected to play more on the line of scrimmage this year.
Key losses: Kyle Efaw, who was a staple of the pass game for four years and the starting tight end last year, is gone. He made 103 catches in his career.
Other key returners: Junior Gabe Linehan, who has been marked for stardom since his freshman year, should become the primary tight end this year. He made 23 catches for 252 yards and five touchdowns last season. Senior Chandler Koch, who took on much of the fullback role last year, also returns and will play there this year, too.
Other players to watch: Connor Peters, a sophomore transfer from Laney College in California, should join the tight end rotation, primarily as a blocker. And redshirt freshman Holden Huff (6-foot-5, 201 pounds) could be an intriguing target in the pass game — particularly if his high school teammate, Jimmy Laughrea, wins the quarterback job.
Projected starters: TE Linehan, FB Paul
Position chart (in no particular order):
Tight ends — Linehan, Peters, Huff, Jake Hardee (redshirt freshman), Hayden Plinke (true freshman), Kyle Sosnowski (sophomore)
Fullbacks — Paul, Jamal Wilson (redshirt freshman)
Joining in August: Fullback Armand Nance.
— Tight ends coach Scott Huff on the group: “We’ve got a good group right now. We feel really good about them. … That should be a strength of our team, it really should, with the talent that we have there.”
— The Broncos have lacked a true blocking tight end for the last season and a half, since Tommy Gallarda was injured during the 2010 season. “The big thing we want to come out of spring ball saying is, ‘We’ve got that point of attack guy. We can get that done,’ ” Huff said. “We’ve got some guys that hopefully can develop into that.”
— Paul bench-pressed 405 pounds recently but hasn’t practiced yet. “He’s crushing it,” Huff said. “He’s dying to be out here. We’re definitely expecting him to be back and to have a big part of our offense.”
The Broncos wore shoulder pads Friday for their third practice of spring ball, the first with contact. They will wear full pads for the first time Saturday.
Friday’s practice was full of big plays on both sides of the ball. The quarterbacks made some nice throws down the field, including a 50-yard catch by wide receiver Troy Ware and long runs by tailbacks D.J. Harper and Drew Wright. The defense answered with two interceptions by redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu, including a pick six, and two nice plays by sophomore linebacker Blake Renaud, who made a diving tackle in the backfield in 11-on-11 action and a diving interception in 7-on-7.
The first-team offense scored a touchdown on a timed hurry-up drive. Wright scored on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
Here is a story on Thomas Byrd coaching at Contra Costa College from the school’s student newspaper.