By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Whether he played last year or not, Boise State sophomore Lee Hightower joined the Broncos with hopes of replacing George Iloka at free safety in 2012.
After an impressive debut at cornerback last season as a true freshman, Hightower is in position to do just that. Iloka was a four-year starter and NFL Draft pick.
“That was a focus of mine,” Hightower said. “I wanted to come in here, see what they were doing and hopefully get in right now. It’s a position I’m grateful for and blessed for and hoping to make the best of.”
Said defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake: “He’s exciting. He’s always in his playbook. He asks a lot of very intelligent questions. He made a lot of plays in the spring. He hasn’t really gotten that many opportunities so far (in camp), but he’s getting close.”
I’ll have more on Hightower in Friday’s newspaper.
Boise State’s new class of defensive backs has impressed so far.
“I like how these new young DBs are competing,” coach Chris Petersen said. “Maybe they just don’t know better yet. But they go hard, they take chances and I think they’re playmakers. Whether they play for us or not (this year), I don’t know, but they’re talented.”
The group includes cornerbacks Donte Deayon, Chaz Anderson, Deon’tae Florence and Trey Corta and safety Chanceller James.
“What I really like about my young guys right now is they’re excited to be out here, they’ve got great intensity, they work hard and they’re locked in,” Lake said. “They’re a fun group to be around.”
Lake, a new addition to the staff, wasn’t involved in recruiting most of the class so he got to know them over the phone and met them when they arrived this summer.
They have fit well with the veteran DBs.
“They’re hungry for football, hungry for knowledge,” Lake said. “They beat me to the film room. They’re in there just waiting.”
Senior linebacker J.C. Percy on the defense:
“We’ve kind of created a tradition of being one of the foundations to the success on this team. I feel like everybody, the juniors and seniors, that have been here and experienced that in the past, we’re trying to instill that tradition into the young guys so we can keep that tradition going.”
The first-team defense came up with its first stop of fall camp in a game-like drive in Thursday’s morning practice. Senior middle linebacker Tommy Smith grabbed an interception on third-and-10. The first-team offense had scored three touchdowns and a field goal in its first four drives of camp.
Also Thursday, senior fullback Dan Paul hit the blocking sled so hard during drills that the bag came off the sled. Other highlights: Anderson swiped a pass out of wide receiver Dallas Burroughs’ hands for an interception and true freshman tailbacks Jack Fields and Devan Demas scampered 30 yards for touchdowns on back-to-back plays.
The defense played well in the afternoon practice, particularly the front seven. Defensive tackle Mike Atkinson made two tackles for loss and forced a fumble. The first-team offense failed to score on its game-like drive for the second time.
Nevada announced Thursday that it has bundled tickets to the Boise State game with tickets to the Pack’s Wyoming and Fresno State games. That means Broncos fans who want to go to the game will have to buy the three-game “Power Pack” — $60 general admission or $81 reserved.
Nevada provided Boise State with 1,000 tickets for the Dec. 1 game. They are sold out. Two years ago, Nevada provided Boise State with 4,000 tickets.
The package will help Nevada sell tickets to its less-attractive home games and also force Boise State fans to pay more. Boise State usually has a huge cheering section in Reno.
The Power Pack goes on sale Aug. 27.
Camper of the day update (chosen by coach Chris Petersen for Broncosports.com):
Day 1: N Corey Bell. “Corey had a great summer and came into camp in good shape,” Petersen said. “Mentally, he is really on top of things right now.”
Day 2: TE Holden Huff. “Holden is making plays for us out there, and we like playmakers,” Petersen said.
Day 3: DL Darren Koontz. “Darren had a really nice day,” Petersen said. “He was playing physical and much faster, and he was nice and disruptive today.”
Day 4: LT Faraji Wright. “Faraji showed up to this camp ready to compete,” Petersen said. “He has been playing at a high level from day one, and he has been extremely focused.”
Day 5: LB Tommy Smith. “Tommy has been extremely focused thus far in camp,” Petersen said. “He has been working extremely hard and is playing very physical football right now.”
Day 6: RB D.J. Harper. “D.J. is running hard and making sharp cuts,” Petersen said. “He has been extremely precise in what he’s doing out here.”