Boise State will lose 17 seniors off its 2010 football team, many of whom were long-time starters, key contributors, or Sean King. What Bronco players will step up to fill these roles?
After the jump, I take a look at each and every Bronco graduate and the hole they will leave behind. Then it's time for some really early guessing and speculation. You're invited to join in with your comments and thoughts on what the Broncos will do to replace stars like Austin Pettis, Titus Young, Ryan Winterswyk, and Jeron Johnson. Let's discuss.
In no particular order (although I did mull ordering them by girth):
LBs Derrell Acrey and Daron Mackey
The candidates: Byron Hout, Aaron Tevis, J.C. Percy, Tommy Smith, Allen Mooney, Hazen Moss, Blake Renaud
The situation: Acrey and Mackey are essentially backups, so once Hout is healthy, he and Tevis and Percy should re-form that linebacking triumvirate that was so good for so long this year. Acrey and Mackey's departures will hurt most with depth. Tommy Smith has already proven he can provide backup, and Allen Mooney has to be good one of these years.
One wildcard to note is incoming recruit LB Blake Renaud who is a three-star in everyone's book and could make a push for playing time as a true freshman.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Byron Hout, Aaron Tevis, and J.C. Percy will be your starters. Tommy Smith and Allen Mooney will be the primary backups.
RBs Jeremy Avery and Jarvis Hodge
The candidates: Doug Martin, D.J. Harper, Matt Kaiserman, Raphiel Lambert, Drew Wright, Malcolm Johnson, Jay Ajayi
The situation: Doug Martin should remain RB1 for the Broncos, which would leave holes to fill at RB2 and RB-The-Closer. If D.J. Harper is healthy, he is a logical choice to replace Avery as the primary backup. If he's not, Matt Kaiserman may be due.
As far as Hodge's clean-up replacement, a good offseason by Raphiel Lambert could propel him into that role, or continued improvement from Drew Wright could win him the job. I put Malcolm Johnson on the list even though he's not currently on the team. And incoming freshman Jay Ajayi is good, but I would seriously doubt he's good enough to burn a redshirt playing second fiddle to Martin.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: D.J. Harper will replace Avery as the primary backup. Matt Kaiserman will replace Hodge as the primary clean up back.
K/P Kyle Brotzman
The candidates: Trevor Harman, Jimmy Pavel, Brad Elkin, Matt Goudis
The situation: In some ways, Brotzman will be the biggest loss for the Broncos. I mean, have you seen some of these other guys kick? Trevor Harman improved on kickoffs throughout the year and may retain that role. Brad Elkin redshirted so that the Broncos would have some experience in the punting game next year. Jimmy Pavel has had a month-and-a-half to think about that 30-yard shank against Louisiana Tech.
And then there's incoming freshman Matt Goudis, one of the most highly-sought-after kicking prospects in the country. He does it all, kind of like Brotzman. Might he start as a true freshman, like Brotzman?
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Matt Goudis
QB Michael Coughlin
The candidates: Joe Southwick, Mikey Tamburo, Grant Hedrick
The situation: Coughlin and Southwick shared backup duties this year, although if you made me pick between the two I'd say Southwick was No. 2 and Coughlin was No. 3. Southwick is expected to remain the primary backup to Kellen Moore and the eventual replacement to Moore in 2012.
That said, don't sleep on redshirt freshman Grant Hedrick both because he is small and you may crush him and because he is pretty good.
Mikey Tamburo (recovering knee injury) is around, too, although he seems destined to switch positions.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Joe Southwick
TEs Tommy Gallarda and Sean King
The candidates: Kyle Efaw, Gabe Linehan, Chandler Koch, Kyle Sosnowski, Holden Huff
The situation: Who will fill Gallarda's role in the run game? Ideally, that job would fall to Kyle Efaw who has been a co-starter with Gallarda for the past two years. More realistically, Chandler Koch would have a bigger role in the offense as the blocking tight end. Gabe Linehan fits the Efaw mold of pass-catching tight ends. So too do Huff and Sosnowski, at least at their current size and maturation.
I guess this leaves open the possibility of an offensive lineman moving to tight end over the offseason. That sure would be a husky kid's dream come true.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Chandler Koch
S Jeron Johnson and Jason Robinson
The candidates: Cedric Febis, Travis Stanaway, Jeremy Ioane
The situation: I remember way back when Johnson and Robinson were starting together in the secondary versus Washington in '07. Man, I'm old! Stanaway has been Johnson's primary backup this season, so he figures to have every opportunity of replacing Johnson. But can you really replace Jeron Johnson? To truly do so, you would need to be a stud playmaker who can hit, run, and lead with the best of them.
Febis is certainly a possibility, especially with the flashes he's shown in offseason scrimmages. And then there's Ioane, projected by many to be the future at nickelback. He was a high school safety, too, so he may deserve a look in Johnson's spot this offseason.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Jeremy Ioane
OG Will Lawrence
The candidates: Joe Kellogg, Faraji Wright, Chuck Hayes, Bronson Durrant, Cory Yriarte, Rhees Odhiambo
The situation: Lawrence leaves a big hole at guard both literally and figuratively. Joe Kellogg was a solid starter all season and figures to remain as such into 2011. The next man up when Kellogg went down was Wright who has juggled between guard and tackle during his career. Wright and Chuck Hayes should both get a chance at replacing Lawrence this offseason, and don't be surprised if a healthy Cory Yriarte puts himself into the mix.
Rhees Odhiambo would be a longshot, but the incoming true freshman is one of the best physical O-line specimens that Boise State has recruited maybe ever (6'3", 298 pounds). That has to count for something.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Chuck Hayes
Note: Fun fact: Lawrence used to play defensive tackle. Hayes used to play defensive tackle.
WRs Austin Pettis and Titus Young
The candidates: Tyler Shoemaker, Mitch Burroughs, Chris Potter, Kirby Moore, Geraldo Hiwat, Aaron Burks, Tyler Jackson, Matt Miller, Troy Ware
The situation: Boise State is losing its top two receivers in school history. Sigh. Where to begin?
Well, Boise State's third receiver this year, Tyler Shoemaker, could very well be the team's No. 1 next year. If you were to follow the depth chart movement, then Burroughs and Potter would ascend into the top receiver roles, too.
But those guys (minus Shoemaker to some degree) are not built like Pettis and Young. Will the Boise State offense work with different types of receivers? If the answer is no, then the job might fall to Geraldo Hiwat and Aaron Burks who seem to have the potential to be very, very good and very, very similar to Pettis and Young. Hiwat in particular flashed some Titus Young-like skills this year.
For darkhorses, don't forget Kirby Moore, who sat this year due to Boise State's excess at WR. There's also redshirt freshmen Matt Miller (former Mr. Montana) and Troy Ware, either of whom could contribute in 2011.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Tyler Shoemaker and Geraldo Hiwat (with Kirby Moore in the slot)
OT Matt Slater
The candidates: Nate Potter, Brenel Myers, Charles Leno, Faraji Wright, Michael Ames, Garrett Pendergast
The situation: Slater's graduation figures to open the door for Brenel Myers who held the top spot over Slater this year until an injury to Myers changed all that. If Myers isn't the choice, then it might be one of a number of challengers, including last year's preseason tackle combo of Charles Leno and Faraji Wright, both of whom lost out to Nate Potter. Behind them, the Broncos still have two former starters in Ames and Pendergast who are coming off lost seasons due to injury.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Brenel Myers
CB Brandyn Thompson
The candidates: Jamar Taylor, Jerrell Gavins, Ebo Makinde, Antwon Murray, Josh Borgman, Quaylon Ewing, Bryan Douglas
The situation: It's not quite "Who will fill Kyle Wilson's shoes?" but replacing Thompson will still be key to Boise State's 2011. With Jamar Taylor on one side, the other corner could feature the best offseason competition of the year between Jerrell Gavins and Ebo Makinde, two players who were in the running to start in 2010. Gavins has the edge now based on how he played this season.
For darkhorses, Antwon Murray has been with the Bronco program since, what, 2003, so he could catch fire and make a run. Borgman and Ewing are key special teams contributors, and redshirt freshman Douglas could make a run as the future great Bronco DB.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Ebo Makinde
NB Winston Venable
The candidates: Jonathan Brown, Hunter White, Jeremy Ioane, Dane Turner
The situation: To me, replacing Winston Venable is a lot like replacing Jeron Johnson. You really can't do it unless you have someone really special on the roster. Again, the most special player seems to be Jeremy Ioane. He could very well be the starter at nickelback for the next four years.
Venable's main backups this season were Jonathan Brown and Hunter White, each of whom showed some flashes. Coaches will have an interesting decision on their hands. Can Brown and White play well enough to let Ioane move elsewhere? Is it more important to have a star at nickel or a star at safety? These are questions I am nowhere near smart enough to answer (but, as you'll see below, I did anyway).
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Jonathan Brown
DE Ryan Winterswyk
The candidates: Shea McClellin, Jarrell Root, Tyrone Crawford, Kharyee Marshall, Nick Alexander, Sam Ukwuachu, Robert Ash
The situation: Fortunately, Boise State is uber-deep at defensive line, so there are a number of players who figure to eat up Winterswyk's minutes. For a starting role, expect the battle to be a three-way fight between Jarrell Root, Tyrone Crawford, and Kharyee Marshall. Nick Alexander should get to see more time in 2011 as a backup, and incoming true freshmen Ukwuachu and Ash could find themselves in the rotation if they a) show up early and b) play lights out.
Kevan's totally fallible prediction: Tyrone Crawford
Who do you think will replace these Bronco seniors? Would you put Ioane at nickel or safety? Who is best suited to step in for Pettis and Young? Share your thoughts in the comments.