That other Prosser kid: Bronco WR commit Kirby Moore
—continued from yesterday's article.
In 2007, the Defensive Line struggled at times to contain the run. In 2008, with the infusion of some young blood, the D-line made great strides, but by years' end injuries mounted and caught up with the defensive front in the biggest game of the year. 2009 should see a resurgence on both lines as the fresh faces of 2008 become the experienced vets and the newbies push them for playing time and add depth to the roster spots. The Broncos fared very well this recruiting cycle and landed some names that are sure to be of the household variety among Bronco Nation in the coming years.
A very deep and productive spot for the Broncos last year with the emergence of youngsters Ryan Winsterswyk, Byron Hout, Jarrell Root, and Shea McLellin looks to become even deeper once the new crop of DEs sign on the dotted line today.
Kharyee Marshall may just be the next Mike T. Williams. Much like Williams, Marshall will come in with a need to add bulk to his 6'3" frame, but if he can add about 30-40 lbs. to his lanky frame and maintain his excellent 4.6 speed, Marshall will terrorize WAC QBs in the next 4-5 years. Marshall, who hails from Phoenix and chose the Broncos over at least 5 other schools notched 64 tackles last season and 4 sacks en route to his 3rd consecutive All-Region selection. Marshall should redshirt.
Head down the road a bit to Saguaro, AZ and you'll find another Arizona standout DE, Justin Jungblut. Jungblut was nothing less than a sack machine at Saguaro High last season—racking up 11 total and chipping in 72 tackles. Jungblut already has good size at 6'5" and 235 lbs. and will surely add some "good weight" under Tim Socha's watchful eye. Jungblut was an Arizona All-Region first teamer last season and held offers from Oregon State and a slew of MWC teams. Jungblut, like Marshall will likely redshirt unless injuries pile up again.
Rounding out the new DE rotation is Los Angeles' own Nicholas Alexander—a powerfully built DE who is the grandson of NFL Hall of Famer Carl Eller. Alexander is already 6'4" and 240 lbs., which puts him right about where he should be sizewise. After being actively recruited by Washington State, Alexander chose the Broncos in mid-November and has never looked back. Alexander may be the strongest physically of the group and has the bloodlines for greatness, still, it's hard for me to see him step in next year with the current DE depth. WAC offenses should shudder at the thought of what the next 3-4 years will bring, though...count on that.
While any of the aforementioned Defensive Ends could find their way into the interior of the Defensive Line...the Broncos only really landed one true Defensive Tackle in this class...but it was a doozy. Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (pronounced 'Chong-a-Chew'), another native of the Netherlands, literally burst onto the recruiting scene in January and immediately garnered scholarship offers and interest from Oregon, Washington and Washington State. Tjong-A-Tjoe moves well for a big man (6'4" 300 lbs.) but is extremely raw at this point, having only competed in one year of organized American football at Boise High. Tjong-A-Tjoe doesn't look like a project though...he's got the footskills and power to make a huge impact on the line for years to come—he just needs a little time with Coach Kwiatkoswki to master some of the fundamentals. Tjong-A-Tjoe was named a first team All-State selection in his sole year of competition.
The Broncos defensive backfield was brilliant last season. Switching to a 4-2-5 defensive scheme and gaining a new philosophy under coach Marcel Yates, the Broncos DBs shut down opponents and didn't give up the big plays. True Freshmen Safety George Iloka thrived in the new scheme en route to Freshmen All-American honors and another True Frosh, Jamar Taylor contributed heavily. There is no age discrimination in the secondary...the best guys can and will play. So who'll leave their mark this year?
Kyle Wilson will return for his senior season and likely be a first or second round pick in next year's draft—that's one CB position locked up. Brandyn Thompson manned the other corner spot last year and showed flashes that he may be the next great Bronco cover man—that's another CB position locked up. The veteran cornerbacks are unlikely to yield much playing time for the youngsters...but the two deep will see some new blood this year and any number of players could be one injury or rotation from seeing the blue up close and personal.
Quaylon Ewing was the first CB to give the Broncos the nod all the way back in May. Ewing was High School teammates with George Iloka at Kempner and almost followed the greenshirt path of Iloka as well. Ewing doesn't necessarily have lockdown speed at 4.6, but has good size for a DB (6'1" 180 lbs.) that may translate better into the Safety position. Obviously the new 4-2-5 scheme always has room for athletic DBs and with the departure of Ellis Powers, anyone could see immediate playing time. Ewing is rated as a 3-star recruit by Scout.com
Ebenezer "Ebo" Makinde is another recruit from the suddenly Bronco-friendly recruiting grounds of Arizona. Makinde was heavily recruited by a slew of MWC teams and by the nearby Arizona Wildcats. Makinde was a standout on Offense, Defense and Special Teams for Paradise Valley and possesses great fundamentals at the corner position. He doesn't have "elite" speed, but plays with enough poise and aggressiveness that he may well develop into a real ballhawk. May sniff the two-deep this year, but likely will be a scout team standout until the 2010 "Wilson-less" season rolls around.
The 4-2-5 is here to stay. With the spread option being adopted nationwide...it makes good sense to keep the DB-heavy scheme in place. The 4-2-5, which relies on good fundamental play from the Safeties, made George Iloka an All-American and the seldom-used Ellis Powers an All-WAC first teamer. Will a current Bronco like Jason Robinson or Garcia Day ascend the depth charts next season to fit into Yates' scheme or will a newcomer again roam the blue?
Winston Venable may be the next big thing in the Bronco Defensive secondary. The lone JC transfer in the 2009 class has good size at 6'1" and 210 lbs. and hits like a Mack truck. An all-league performer at Glendale Community College, Venable (who also punts) is already on campus and may have the best shot of landing Ellis Powers' slot LB/S hybrid slot. Venable, as a freshman, ranked 6th nationally with 77 solo tackles including 8 TFLs, 1 INT for a TD and 2 sacks. Venable's father Max played 12 seasons of baseball in the MLB.
Encinal's Jonathan Brown will bring athleticism and smarts to the Safety spot. Brown, who played QB at Encinal in Alameda, CA, was recently named the All-East Bay Player of the Year (QB Joe Southwick was named All-East Bay Offensive POTY). Brown has excellent speed and mainly played OLB on defense at Encinal, where he racked up 92 tackles, 8 sacks and 2 blocked punts in 2008. Despite, Brown's obvious talents at linebacker, he was recruited as a Safety and will likely stay there. Look for Brown to get into the mix on Special Teams and vie for a slot in the vaunted 4-2-5 in the next year or so.
The O-line has been a strength for the Broncos for years, producing such names as Daryn Colledge and Ryan Clady...but last year growing pains finally caught up with the line. With only one upperclassman as a mainstay in 2008, the line saw a different combination almost weekly...and while the pass protection was adequate, the run blocking took a definite step back. This season, with the youngsters now seasoned vets and some behemoths like Faraji Wright, Brenel Myers, Tom Swanson and Joe Kellogg coming off their redshirt years—the line may finally have the size to start pushing some guys around and sparking the run game on a more consistent basis. Don't be surprised if some of the 2009 recruits make a push for playing time, however, on a line that desperately needs to find a cohesiveness.
When you hear people calling you the next Ryan Clady, you've got a lot of potential...and that's just what folks have been saying about San Leandro OT Charles Leno. ESPN featured Leno as an premier "under the radar" recruit who "runs like a Tight End". He's nearly as tall as Clady at 6'5", but needs to put a bit more bulk to match Clady's girth. Beyond that, his footwork and athleticism appear to be on par with Clady, who came in largely unheralded, like Leno. Leno had looks from the likes of Oregon and Washington, but liked the atmosphere and team-first mentality in Boise. Leno seems to be as good a candidate as any to play right away, though lineman rarely do play as true Frosh.
Jake Broyles is another OT commit with room to grow. Broyles is already 6'6" and 250 lbs. but looks like he could take on another 40-50 lbs. easily. Broyles definitely flew under the recruiting radar and was only offered by the Broncos after playing his career at Foothill High (NV) in Chris Ault's backyard. Broyles, who played both ways for the Foothill Falcons, may have been a victim, recruiting-wise, of playing on a losing team...but the Bronco staff has made a reputation for finding great diamonds-in-the-rough and I'm sure that Broyles is no different.
At the Offensive Guard spot, the Broncos had to look no further than west Boise. Bryant Thomas, a Capital Eagle isn't as tall as Broyles or Leno...but he has a sturdy frame and, at 265 lbs., should be where he needs to be sooner than later. Thomas can play at Guard or Tackle, or may even be a candidate for Center. He was an All-Idaho first teamer that Capital coach Todd Simis called "the most athletic lineman in the state". Thomas may be the next great Idaho lineman in the mold of BK grad Tad Miller.
Video and more stories from Bronco LOI day to follow.
That other Prosser kid: Bronco WR commit Kirby Moore