The atomic clock actually says that we have just 70 days until the Ducks hit the blue turf (hard).
So, today we'll continue our countdown by briefly highlighting the Bronco players whose jersey numbers correspond with the number of days remaining till the opener. I'm sneaking in two features today since I epically slacked yesterday. Hopefully neither player feels slighted and please make sure to scroll down.
And we're off...
If you think you've heard of Elk Grove, California before—you are correct. The central-Cali (CentraCal?) hamlet was once home to one of Boise State's brightest stars, Ryan Dinwiddie. Lately, the Elk Grove recruiting pipeline has stayed hot, producing phenom CB Brandyn Thompson and today's co-featuree Zach Waller. Hard to imagine that either Waller or Thompson can ascend the heights that Dinwiddie did in his tenure on the blue...but it sure will be fun to see them give it a go.
Zach "Lego maniac" Waller was a two-year standout at Elk Grove's Franklin High and won All-Conference honors as a junior and senior. In 2006, Waller played in the inaugural Holiday Bowl All-Star game, which supposedly exists despite google searches to the contrary. Waller has a big body and a big goatee. One will help him hold off defenders and protect Kellsy's blindside...the other will protect his chin from the elements. The 6'5" 277 lb. Waller will try to inject himself into the O-line mix this Fall after playing sparingly in 2008. Waller saw action in only two games last year and they were blowouts...so it is safe to say he wasn't a part of Coach Huff's weekly shuffle as much as some of his peers. Waller has played primarily at right tackle though he could move on a whim. I expect Waller to "run with the 2s" this year, but with the wacky weekly changes on the Offensive front, I wouldn't be surprised to see him step into a more solid playing role come September
#71 Cory Yriarte, OL
One of the rare players whose name is as hard to pronounce as it is to spell, Cory Yriarte is considered by many to be the Carl Yastrzemski or Mike Krzyzewski of the Bronco squad. Yriarte was one of the big "gets" for the Broncos when he signed on after the '06 season. The big man from Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, California had successfully protected one of the biggest
primadonnas recruits in the nation, QB Jimmy Clausen, while anchoring a strong Lion O-line from the center position. Now, Yriarte will be charged with protecting a much humbler talent, but one that may have more upside than his previous ward.
Yriarte, a 6'1" 285 pounder, was rated as the 12th best center in the country as a senior by Scout.com. He was a Velocity All-Region selectee and racked up more All-Area, All-State or All-County mentions than you could shake a stick at. Yriarte is considered a top-notch run blocker, as he helped his prep squad amass 3,500 rushing yards and 91 TDs in his sole season at Oaks. Yriarte played in more than half of the Bronco games last year at different positions after redshirting in 2007. The fact that he is so highly regarded as a center, but ceded time to Thomas Byrd, really speaks to just how solid a player T-Byrd has been thus far for the Broncos. Bronco Nation is certainly hoping that Yriarte can bring his run-blocking prowess to a squad looking to diversify in 2009. I would give Yriarte a better-than-average shot at locking down a starting gig on the fresh '09 O-line. DJ Harper and Jeremy Avery are rooting hard for it.