The teens start tomorrow...it's going to be an awkward time for you. With 20 days left until kickoff, today's countdown features #20 on the Boise State roster—the versatile LB Tanner Vallejo.
#20, Tanner Vallejo, Senior, SLB
Weight: 223 lbs (-7)
High School: Nevada Union High School, Grass Valley, CA
How'd he get to The Blue™?
Vallejo was a highly-touted recruit out of Nevada Union High School and considered by many to be one of the true gems of the 2013 recruiting class. Nevada Union finished 2012 with a 5-6 record. Not that impressive until you consider the Sierra Foothill League is stacked and includes Rocklin High (alma mater of TE Holden Huff and former QB Jimmy Laughrea) and Granite Bay High, 2012 CIF Division I State Champion.
The three-star recruit has be filling up the stat sheet since his sophomore year, recording 132 tackles, two sacks, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery and then following that up with 158 tackles, two sacks, an interception, six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery during his junior campaign. As a senior, he notched 129 tackles (11.7 per game!?!?!), an interception, a sack, and two forced fumbles. A step back in production, wouldn't you say? Hardly, he was just needed on the other side of the ball, accounting for 414 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.
The Broncos definitely got a good one in Vallejo who turned down offers from Arizona, Colorado, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State, UNLV, and Washington State.
Not many Broncos are better than Vallejo at dropping ballcarriers for a loss.
Major-Leaguer Kris Bryant
Butkus Award and Nagurski Award watch-listed in 2016. All-MWC honorable mention as a junior in 2015. Defensive MVP of MWC Championship game in 2015. Defensive MVP of Fiesta Bowl in 2015. All-MWC second team as a sophomore at Boise State after leading team with 100 tackles (16.5 for loss). Four-year HS letterwinner who, as a sophomore, earned first-team All-Sierra Foothill League honors, in addition to first-team all-metro and first-team All-Sac-Joaquin Section accolades. As a junior, he was named league's most valuable player and again garnered first-team all-metro, Sac-Joaquin Section First Team and second-team all-state honors. For his senior year, he earned a second-straight Sierra Foothill League Defensive Most Valuable Player honor along with second-team all-state, first-team All-SFL, first-team All-Sac-Joaquin Section, all-metro and a MaxPreps All-American.
Vallejo has given Boise State fans plenty to cheer about in his 3 years of Broncodom. 208 total tackles, 30 TFLs, 4.5 sacks and one of the more awesome pick-sixes (in the MWC championship game) in recent memory. That said, with the way last season ended for Vallejo—with a bowl game suspension—he'll find himself looking for redemption in his final year in blue and orange. Strangely enough, last season's turmoil may end up being just the catalyst that Vallejo needed to get back to his dominant ways. Look, 57 tackles (8 for loss) and 2 forced fumbles certainly isn't a "bad year"...but 57 tackles and a bowl game suspension...even with an honorable mention All-MWC nod is nowhere near where Vallejo probably could have been after his incredible sophomore season that saw him hit the century mark in tackles and win consecutive game MVP awards. Vallejo would probably be the first to admit that he probably wasn't 100% physically or mentally in 2015, and he's going to take it out on 2016.
Vallejo has a new outlook on things and a "new" position—SAM backer, and opponents should beware. And Vallejo hasn't just focused on getting his mind and body right for his final season on The Blue, he's focused on becoming a better teammate—something that appeared to be lacking team-wide last season if you read between the lines on several comments from leaders and coaches.
"If anything, that suspension propelled him. He has done everything the coaches have asked for, and more," senior defensive end Sam McCaskill said. "He’s been an incredible teammate and just worked his tail off this summer. I’m really excited for him." (Source)
Just what the Broncos' new defensive alignment will truly look like remains to be seen, but Vallejo has bounced between OLB and nickel before, and with fantastic results. Having Vallejo, Weaver, and Martarano on the field at the same time will be a huge boon to the run defense, and provide a valuable safety outlet for a decidedly young and inexperienced D-line. I don't know if Vallejo can recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle he snagged as a sophomore, but with renewed focus I think he could come close.
Is he on Twitter?
Circle got smaller, vision got larger.— Tanner Vallejo (@tannervallejo) June 13, 2016
That he is.
Completely made up fact
Vallejo's parents actually named him "Tanner" because they wanted him to take up the family leather business, but he showed no affinity for the ancient art and was only good at making those 8-ball and Looney Tunes leather jackets.