Spring Ball Preview: Defensive Backs
Ellis Powers
BroncoCountry Contributing Editor
Posted Mar 24, 2005

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail"

Having one of the best coaching staffs in the nation, this is not something the Broncos worry about much. They'll be more prepared than any other team they face next fall.

Gerald Alexander and Cam Hall have the edge at CB and FS, but that leaves 2 spots up for grabs. With more athletes than openings, the competition will be fierce, but that will help the starters hit the ground running.

Here's a closer look at the secondary....

Cornerbacks Safeties
Left Corner Right Corner Free Safety Rover
Gerald Alexander Rashaun Scott Cam Hall Austin Smith
Chad McKibben Rashaad Richards Marcosus LeBlanc Marty Tadman
Julius Broussard Quinton Jones Ashlei Nyong-Dunham Ia Falo
Orlando Scandrick* Tristan Patin* Ellis Powers Robby Jones
    Duran Cooley Kyle Wilson*
      Derek Tough**

* = New scholarship recruit joining the program in the Fall
**= Walkon reportedly joining the Broncos in the Fall

Cornerback Preview

Gerald Alexander may have been the most improved player on the team by the end of last season.Gerald Alexander:  (6'0 197lbs Junior) Gerald will be the veteran cornerback for the Broncos, having started at LCB all last season.  Gerald is a tremendous athlete who played quarterback in high school and has a 41 inch vertical.  Coaches are expecting big things out of him this spring and next fall and have even gone as far as saying that he could be the best corner to ever come to Boise State by the time he graduates. There will be a special emphasis on body movement efficiency with him this spring.  He should have one cornerback spot locked up going into the fall.

Rashaun Scott: (5'10 186lbs Sophomore) Rashaun is listed as no. 1 on the depth chart at RCB going into spring ball.  He was the no. 4 guy last spring behind Alexander, Franklin, and Onibokun.  He's one of the fastest guys on the team and is a guy who needs work on his breaks to the ball.  Look for Rashaun to improve his body movement efficiency and to learn the system.  Pay special attention to how he handles one on one coverage against our more experienced receivers.  He's the favorite to win the second corner position.

Rashaad Richards:  (5'11 181lbs RSFreshman) Rashaad is a hard working guy who has a nose for the ball.  He's been described as playmaker and you can bet that he'll give Scott a run for his money with the vacant corner position.  He plays a big 6-0, meaning he's long and plays a little bigger than his size. The coaches like this kid and praise his work ethic.  Those kind of guys always seem to find a way into the line up.  Richards doesn't have the speed of Scott, so look to see how he improvises in covering our receivers during one on one situations.  How will he handle being on an island with no help over the top from the safety?

Quinton Jones:  (5'9 186lbs Junior) Q is a familiar name for all Boise State fans.  He's been an all-purpose guy on offense but he's looking to make his mark on defense this spring.  He's one of the fastest guys on the team and his natural athleticism should make his transition a little smoother for him than for the average athlete.  He's very shifty so the transition may not be as difficult as one would think.  He needs to pick up the system and log in a log of reps before, during, and after practice if he wants to get a lot of playing time at corner next fall.  The coaches would love to have his speed on the field every play.  Look to see how he breaks to the ball and look to see if he's covering all of his assignments.

Chad McKibben:  (5'10 182lbs Junior) Chad is a great kid who has battled his way up to no. 4 on the depth chart.  He walked on as a corner, was moved to safety last season, and is back at corner this spring.  This kid competes his tail off, but has average division one speed.  He was a special teams wizard last fall and he's looking to get some more playing time through opportunities given to him this spring.  Look to see how he does in his first extensive action.

Julius Broussard:  (5'9 171lbs RSFreshman) Julius walked on the team from Reno HS last fall will look to earn special team time this spring.  He'll take advantage of this spring and start picking up the system.

Free Safety Preview

Cam Hall, called the defensive MVP by more than 1 playerCam Hall:  (6'1 208lbs Senior) Cam battled through adversity last fall to become a major player for the Broncos when it counted.  Cam is one of the best athletes for the Broncos on the defensive side of the ball and he's also one of the fastest.  He knows the system and he'll be a tough guy to beat out.  His biggest enemy is himself.  If he can keep his academics and his body in order, he should be a major player for the Broncos this spring and next fall.  The Broncos may need a little more help over the top this year with it's corners so look to see how well does his job in Cover 3 defenses and any other defenses where his services are required on long balls.  He's the favorite for this position, and when one LB'r was asked who his pick was for Defensive MVP, (excluding Korey and Alex), Cam was his pick which should tell you.

Marcosus LeBlanc:  (6'0 200lbs Junior) Marcosus is a guy that many hoped would start at cornerback dating back to last fall.  From day one, he's been said to cover like a corner but his like a safety.  He's needs to keep working on his foot speed.  Safety will be a new position for him this spring so look to see how well he adjusts to the middle of the field and look to see how he handles decision making scenarios.  He'll be a good one and look for him to lay some hits on guys going across the middle.  He'll push for the no. 1 spot but will most likely end up fighting for the no. 2 spot with Nyong-Dunham and Powers.

Ashlei Nyong-Dunham:  (5'10 201lbs Sophomore) Ashlei came to Boise Ashlei Nyong-Dunham, got into the rotation last year but must earn it all over again State as a corner but was converted to a safety. He brings the noise when tackling defenders and is a good athlete in general.  He started two games early in the season last fall but blown assignments hurt him and he was delegated to special teams duty primarily.  He's a good special teams guy so look for him to make an impact there.  This spring, look to see how well he picks up his assignments.  If he can learn the system and figure things out from that standpoint, he could force the coaches into a tough decision by the end of spring.

Ellis Powers:  (5'10 201lbs RSFreshman) Ellis is a guy that coaches are excited about are anxious to see him on the field this spring.  When asked about which players stood at the most last fall in practice, Ellis Powers is a name that pops up instantly.  He's got great work ethic and chooses the right attitude daily.  Look to see how he picks up the system and look for him to take advantage of his opportunities.  He could push for the no. 1 spot on the depth chart but most likely will end up no. 2 or no.3.  He'll be a good special teams guy this spring and next fall.

Duran Cooley:  (5'11 208lbs Sophomore) Duran came to Boise State with a lot of hype but found him self deep down the depth chart last fall.  One of his biggest needs over the break was speed so look to see how his coverage skills are this spring.

Rover Preview

Austin Smith, coming into the Spring as the #1 Rover and Punt ReturnerAustin Smith:  (5'9 170lbs Sophomore) Austin earned a spot in the starting lineup last season after the injury to Chris Carr and played well.  The battle to keep that spot this season will be an intense one between Smith and Tadman and the one who plays the smartest football could come out on top.  Smith is a great athlete with has quick feet.  His overall speed isn't blazing fast but his three step quickness is very good, meaning he reaches top speed quickly and is very shifty.  (Probably why he's listed as the #1 punt returner.)  He's a small guy so look to see how he handles the bigger backs like Helmondollar, Lau, and Shields.  Also look to see how well he handles his assignments and how well get gets to the ball.

Marty Tadman:  (5'10 176lbs Sophomore) Marty has a real nose for the ball, impressive football 'smarts' and is incredibly efficient in his routes to the ball.  What he lacks in pure top-end speed, he more than makes up for with great body efficiency in his breaks to the ball.  He's a playmaker and a great work ethic guy.  Look to see how well he learns the rover position.  He was primarily the Nickelback last season.  Also look to see how well he defends the run.  This position battle should be one of the best battles this spring.  Both guys should see a lot of field time next fall.  Look for whoever doesn't win out in the battle between Smith and Tadman to see the field almost as often as the eventual winner.

Robby Jones:  (5'8 190lbs Senior) Robby will be a special teams wizard most likely in the fall.  He was on the depth chart last season though so look for him to work at fighting his way back onto it.

Ia Falo:  (5'7 160lbs Sophomore) Ia is another local-boy walkon from Mountain Home who ended up being a valuable special teams guy last fall. He's said to be one of the "tougher" guys on the team and you can bet that his competitive spirit will have him fighting for more reps this year on defense.

Incoming Signees  
Although these players won't be joining the Broncos until the Fall, they deserve mention.

CB:  Orlando Scandrick (5'11 175lbs)
CB:  Tristan Patin (5'9 165lbs)
Rover:  Kyle Wilson (5'10 180lbs)
Rover:  Derek Tough (5'8 175lbs)

Related Stories
Spring Ball Preview: Offensive Line
 -by BroncoCountry.com  Mar 26, 2005
Interview: Tackle Brian Abraham
 -by BruinReportOnline.com  Mar 15, 2005

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