By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Junior college transfer Demarcus Lawrence is generating a buzz among Boise State coaches and players this spring.
Lawrence (6-foot-4, 248 pounds), who chose Boise State over Tennessee, Kansas State, South Florida and Mississippi and arrived in January, is a big, strong, athletic defensive end. He’s playing the stud position, where Shea McClellin starred.
“He’s been pretty impressive,” said senior nickel Dextrell Simmons, who arrived as a junior college transfer last spring. “He’s always running to the ball. I feel like he’s progressing faster than I did.”
Added sophomore end Beau Martin: “I like Demarcus’ hustle.”
Lawrence could help fill the void left by the departure of the Broncos’ top five defensive linemen. He and redshirt freshman Sam Ukwuachu likely will battle for the starting spot in fall camp. Martin also is working part time at that spot.
Martin transferred to Boise State last fall from Colorado State Pueblo, where he was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Defensive Freshman of the Year as a true freshman. He recorded 7.5 sacks.
He liked the Division II school, and was on scholarship, but decided to walk on at Boise State to challenge himself.
“I have such a great burning passion for this game that I wanted to play at the highest level,” he said. “You only get five years to do this. Being from Colorado, I knew something was in the water here.”
Martin turned down offers from Weber State, Northern Colorado and Air Force out of high school, he said.
After his freshman year, he called Boise State to see if the Broncos would be interested.
“They were pretty receptive right away,” he said.
Simmons didn’t play much on defense until late last season, getting his most extensive playing time in the bowl. He’s locked in a three-way battle for the starting job with sophomore Corey Bell and junior Jonathan Brown.
“Those guys are great competitors,” Simmons said. “As soon as someone comes off the field, we’re coaching each other up, saying what someone else has seen from their point of view. We all push each other every day. It’s a big battle right now.”
Simmons’ comfort level is much higher this spring after a year in the program.
“I’m a lot more confident,” he said. “Last fall was just a lot to take in. … You get here and it’s different schemes, a whole new defense, a whole new learning experience. Now I feel like I’m able to diagnose the plays before they even run them just by seeing them line up. I’m just comfortable with the defense, I know the plays, I know what people are doing around me. It makes it easier for me to run to the ball faster.”
Boise State is holding the groundbreaking ceremony for the new football complex Thursday afternoon. The event is closed to the public.