Boise State football preview: Linebackers

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2012 Idaho Statesman

Here is the second installment in my position-by-position preview of the Boise State football team. At the bottom, I’ve posted links to the blog and newspaper preview for other positions.

TODAY: LINEBACKERS

Personnel:

INSIDE LINEBACKER
48 J.C. Percy, 6-0, 227, R-Sr.
33 Tommy Smith, 6-1, 238, R-Sr.
56 Dustin Kamper, 6-1, 217, R-Jr.
45 Travis Saxton, 6-1, 221, R-So.
13 Blake Renaud, 6-2, 239, So.
36 Tyler Gray, 6-4, 227, Fr.
31 Andrew Pint, 6-1, 215, Fr.
51 Ben Weaver, 6-0, 226, Fr.

NICKEL
6 Dextrell Simmons, 5-11, 200, Sr.
32 Jonathan Brown, 5-10, 211, R-Jr.
38 Corey Bell, 5-11, 206, So.
42 Hilton Richardson, 6-2, 217, R-Fr.
25 Chris Santini, 5-11, 220, Fr.

Storyline: Senior starters Percy and Smith have played part-time roles throughout their careers. Now they’re in the spotlight — and both say they’re eager to prove they’re front-line players.

Key to success: The nickel position has been incorporated into the linebacker corps this year. It’s likely that three or four players will be involved, but that combination needs to get the type of production the Broncos received from Winston Venable and Ellis Powers in years past.

Reason for concern: Percy, Smith and Renaud are the only experienced interior linebackers. If injuries become an issue, the depth could be a problem. Plus, the Broncos need a couple other linebackers to step up and take some of the special teams snaps away from Percy and Smith.

Star player: Percy is one of the most underappreciated players in recent Boise State history. He has finished second on the team in tackles twice and been one of the most productive defensive and special teams players on the team throughout his career.

Breakout performer: Teammates were impressed with Smith throughout the offseason conditioning program and expect him to have a monster year at middle linebacker. With tackles Mike Atkinson and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe in front of him, Smith should have some room to maneuver in the middle of the field.

Newcomer to watch: Santini has taken snaps at nickel and inside linebacker. He’s a big guy with good speed who, if nothing else, might provide that much-needed depth on special teams.

Quotes/notes:

— Linebackers coach Bob Gregory: “We have more numbers (this year) but we still don’t have a lot of guys who have played and have got experience, so we have to develop that experience.”

— Nickels Simmons and Bell also have taken snaps at the inside linebacker positions. Smith may be the backup to Percy on the weak side, because Renaud could replace him in the middle.

— In addition to the nickels, defensive ends Beau Martin and Sam Ukwuachu could line up at nickel occasionally like Shea McClellin did last year.

Projected depth chart:

Middle linebacker: Smith, Renaud
Weak-side linebacker: Percy, Smith
Nickel: Bell OR Simmons, Brown
(No returning starters)

In Sunday’s paper: Percy has set his goal high for 2012. He wants to prove he’s one of the best linebackers in school history.

PREVIOUS PREVIEWS

Defensive line: Blog, Atkinson story

•••

Here is my post on the AP Top 25.

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Chadd

Have you been tested for PED's? You are hitting way more home runs this year than at any time in your career.......

T, please

That's a sore subject for me right now. It should be for you as well.

But, we did crush the Padres last night!

Man, what a blow

Not sure we can make a run without him.......

§ Satchel Paige

said it best: "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

Your pals, the Dodgers are only .5 back.

Go Broncos, beat MSU!

Line Backers Define The Defense

How goes the LB's goes the defense. With solid LB play the line can cut loose and secondary can play with little worry on run support. They are also free to anticipate offensive play action.

LB's

Good looking athletic bunch with high upside. The experience factor will take care of itself when these guys get on the field, and remember J.C. Percy is the smartest guy in Boise (per Coach Pete). J.C. can be all things: mentor, tutor, annihilator and leading tacklor!

JC

Hey JC, You've already proven you are one of the best, but this year you will really shine both as a player and a leader. Good Luck going forward and in the NFL.