By all accounts, J.C. Percy and Tommy Smith seem to be the starting two, although immensely talented Blake Renaud I believe is going to play enough that he'll seem like a starter. Percy (6-0, 227, Sr.) has had a great Bronco career, from the moment he first set feet on the Blue. J.C. played in all 14 games as a freshman and started three, totaling 64 tackles in 2009, second on the team. He added 4.5 tackles ofr loss, .5 sacks, two pass break-ups, one forced fumble and the recovery. Percy was named to the All-WAC Academic Team that year.
As a sophomore, Percy started three times and finished with 65 tackles, 30 solo, four tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Once again, J.C. was named to the All-Academic Team. Last season, Percy ranked fifth on the Broncos with 48 tackles, including one for loss, a forced fumble, a pass break-up and an interception.
The Bronco defense will need Percy's leadership this year to help develop it into a dependable, ball-hawking, terrorizing unit. Percy's been one of the top tacklers on the team--now coach Chris Petersen and defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski want Percy to jar the football loose with hard-nosed play.
Smith (6-1, 238) too has had a solid career since coming from Atlanta, Georgia in February of 2008. Tommy played in 12 games as a freshman and recorded 23 tackles, a season in which he doubled his success as a member of the All-WAC Academic Team. Smith had 26 tackles, forced a fumble, and once again was named to the All-WAC Academic Team as a sophomore. Smith played in all 12 regular season games last year and also started a game at fullback. Tommy had 18 tackles on the season.
The very fact that he hasn't been a full-time starter is a testament to that Bronco depth alluded to earlier. But 2012 represents Smith's time to shine. Smith also will be called upon to provide that senior leadership and teach the underclassmen about the Bronco Way. Tommy has a nose for the ball, the kind of instinct no one can coach; he always seems to be making a big play. In the opener against Michigan State, Smith's performance will be key, as the highly-rated Spartan offensive line will look to control the line of scrimmage. Most importantly, Smith will need to play in his area and do what the coaches ask of him. Smith has NFL size and could be playing on Sundays if everything goes right his senior year.
And you talk about NFL potential--Renaud (6-2, 239, So.) has it in spades. For years, Boise State has wanted the great student-athletes that come out of legendary De La Salle High School and now they're beginning to get them.
Renaud played in 10 games as a true freshman, burning his redshirt to take the field against Georgia. Blake was credited with 10 tackles and forced a fumble last year.
Renaud has it all--the size, the instincts, the tackling ability, the desire, the attitude, the hard-hitting, ability to play both the run and the pass. It will difficult to keep Blake off the field this fall, and he should be an absolute star in 2013 and 2014.
Another up-and-coming guy that's been drawing raves is true freshman Ben Weaver (6-0, 226). Weaver is one of 16 Texans on this year's Boise State roster--you might as well call the Broncos the Longhorns of the West as deep as that pipeline has been.
Weaver is from Klein High School, where he was first-team all-district as a junior and a senior. He had 111 tackles, 15 for loss, with three forced fumbles as a senior.
For all the skills that Renaud has, Weaver has those same attributes but he's two years younger. If things go as planned, Weaver too should be all-star caliber in the not too distant future.
Another freshman that has been a star performer in Fall Camp has been Andrew Pint (6-1, 215). He likely will redshirt, saving Pint to compete for starting honors for four years. The Broncos are blessed with further depth in the form of Tyler Gray (6-4, 227, Fr.) and local products Dustin Kamper (6-1, 217, Jr.) from Nampa Christian High School and Eagle High School star Travis Saxton (6-1, 221, So.). Gray came to Boise by way of Templeton High School in California. In recent years, Boise State has begun to display the depth that is only reserved for a handful of teams. Running back, quarterback, the receivers, certainly the offensive line, and last year the defensive line were all solid well past the two-deep. We can now say that about the Bronco linebackers. Only two start, but there is very little drop-off from 1-5 in this group.
Boise State is set at linebacker for years to come.