By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Here is the seventh 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: TIGHT ENDS/FULLBACKS
88 Chandler Koch, 6-2, 246, R-Sr.
87 Gabe Linehan, 6-4, 241, R-Jr.
86 Kyle Sosnowski, 6-2, 247, R-So.
89 Connor Peters, 6-4, 253, So.
42 Jake Hardee, 6-3, 234, R-Fr.
85 Holden Huff, 6-5, 213, R-Fr.
80 Hayden Plinke, 6-4, 255, Fr.
93 Brennyn Dunn, 6-3, 201, Fr.
47 Dan Paul, 6-1, 262, R-Sr.
49 Jamal Wilson, 5-11, 227, R-Fr.
Storyline: Coaches and players are excited about the prospects for this group this year. It’s a deep, athletic bunch with some intriguing young talent.
Key to success: The tight ends do a lot in this offense, but they have their biggest impact when they are able to provide consistent, physical run blocking.
Reason for concern: Injuries have been a problem for this group for years — not just nagging problems, but season-ending problems. They’ve lost guys like Dan Paul, Richie Brockel and Tommy Gallarda in recent years.
Star player: Linehan is the most noticeable tight end because of his receiving ability. He made 23 catches for 252 yards and five touchdowns last year. The future star, though, may be Plinke — a talented receiver who has succeeded in putting on weight for blocking.
Breakout performer: Plinke and Huff should get chances to make an impact in the pass game. Huff could even line up as a slot receiver if needed.
Newcomer to watch: Plinke’s 75-yard touchdown catch in the scrimmage last week showed what he’s capable of doing. The true freshman already is up to 255 pounds.
— Tight ends coach Scott Huff: “This is probably the most talented group we’ve had here in a long time from top to bottom. We’ve got a good mix of some old guys and a really good crew of new guys. What we really would like to have happen is to get some of these guys to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. That’s a little bit different than how we’ve done things in the past, especially of late, when we’ve gotten so beat up.”
— Huff: “It’s an exciting time right now for tight ends. I don’t know if we’ve got the superstar yet like the Derek Schouman, but we’ve got some dudes.”
— Huff: “The guy we’re really excited about is Hayden Plinke. He’s 260. You can see that he can run and he can catch and he’s definitely bigger than most of the guys we have. You can see that we’re pretty excited about him and why.”
— Chris Petersen: “Those guys need to be on our special teams. Those are the type of bodies we need to have out there. So those are important guys to us.”
— Koch: “We’re really the group that tries to confuse the defense and give our offense the best chance of executing our plays.”
— Koch: “Just because of all the depth and all the different looks we get, we’ve got a lot of opportunity to go out and do something special with the tight end group.”
— Koch, on Paul returning: “Last year I played all fullback because Dan was out. It definitely allows me to play a lot more time on the line. I like to run and hit people, but it’s nice to be on the line, too.”
— Linehan: “We’re going to be something to be messed with.”
— Linehan: “We’re going to be stout and we’re going to be very effective but we’re always striving to improve our tenacity and fearsome attitude. Our young guys also, they’re going to bring some fire to our offense.”
Projected depth chart:
Fullback: Paul*, Koch
Tight end: Linehan/Koch, Huff/Plinke/Peters
(* indicates returning starters)
In Friday’s paper: The Broncos are expecting a big impact from this deep, talented group of tight ends.
Sophomore Corey Bell said Thursday that senior Dextrell Simmons won the three-way battle for the starting job at nickel. Simmons, Bell and junior Jonathan Brown were competing there. All are expected to contribute.
“Dextrell has really taken some steps forward,” Bell said. “He’s been playing really well this camp.”
Boise State is painting the team areas at Bronco Stadium white. So it will be gray from the sideline to the stands with white around the benches.
The Senior Bowl released its first watch list Thursday. The only Bronco on the list: tailback D.J. Harper.
Michigan State had four players on the list: kicker Dan Conroy, defensive tackle Anthony White, cornerback Johnny Adams and cornerback Mitchell White.