Hey, look. It's the homestretch!
We've got 8 days until kickoff...so today we'll be highlighting #8 on the Boise State roster - George Iloka.
#8, George Iloka, Senior, Free safety
Weight: 213 pounds
High School: Kempner HS, Houston, TX
How'd he get to The Blue?
After his junior year at Kempner High School in Houston, Iloka committed to Boise State as a safety - a position he hadn't played yet. His senior year at Kempner he switched to safety and ended up with 80 tackles, 4 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles en route to a place on the first team all league team, Kempner defensive back of the year, and a member of the Houston Top 100 team. He graduated high school early and enrolled at Boise State in January 2008. He was a starter nine months later.
Loka-loka-loka (it works better when you say it like Fozzie Bear)
"Play" from Kid 'n Play
Iloka was a first-team All-WAC pick last year and a preseason first-team All-MWC choice in 2011. His best game as a Bronco came against Utah State in 2008 when he recorded two picks.
One of many would-be interceptions that have hit him in the hands.
When Jeron Johnson, Ryan Winterswyk, Winston Venable, and Brandyn Thompson hit the road for the NFL, the leadership mantle could have gone a lot of different places - Billy Winn, Shea McClellin, Byron Hout. But it landed on Iloka who has become a clear leader on the Bronco defense and represented the team at MWC media days. For the past three-plus years, he has been one of the most solid players in the secondary. Seemingly overnight, he has taken that leap from really good player to all-time great player. No more going to bed at 9:00 for me. I miss too much.
I have made bold predictions about Iloka winning Defensive Player of the Year and turning in a career season with stats to match his skills. The sky's the limit for him. He'll be working the wide side of the field with Jerrell Gavins, which could mean more balls his way now that Thompson is gone. At free safety, Iloka can disappear for awhile in games, at least from our HDTV's eye. But his greatest plays are the ones that are made when no one's looking - being in the right place at the right time, setting up the secondary pre-snap, reading routes, preventing deep balls.
Is there a more important person to the Boise State defense? I'll take submissions on Winn and McClellin and Hout, but Iloka definitely has to be in that conversation.
Completely made-up fact
Iloka's younger brother Kenny, a two-star defensive back recruit at Kempner High, is actually George Iloka's safety clone, you know, in case something ever happens to George. You can't trust your future liver to just anyone.