Defense focus of Boise State recruiting efforts

For the second straight year, Chris Petersen and his staff

focused their recruiting efforts on the future of Boise State’s

defense.

Of the 21 players signed Wednesday, 13 are projected to play

somewhere on a unit that was ranked 12th in the nation in total

defense a year ago but has major holes created by the graduation of

both starting cornerbacks and four other starters.

So Petersen loaded up, announcing a recruiting class with five

cornerbacks, four linebackers, six defensive linemen and a safety.

They join three other defenders – a linebacker, cornerback and

tackle – who either signed with the 2012 class and delayed

enrollment or signed letters of intent in December and are now

enrolled in school.

”The numbers dictated . we have to beef up a little bit” at

cornerback, Petersen said. ”We’re very thin there, so all those

guys are going to have a great opportunity to come in and compete

right away.”

The Broncos are coming off an 11-2 season, capped by a 28-26 win

over Washington. The Broncos also decided in December to scrap

plans to join the crumbling Big East Conference, opting instead to

stick with the Mountain West and a new television deal that

provides more financial stability and other incentives.

Petersen, who has used a high octane offense to compile an 84-8

record in seven seasons, also has 11 new recruits to one day plug

into the offense.

Leading that group is Ryan Finley, a 6-4 quarterback who threw

for 3,442 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior at Paradise Valley

High School in Phoenix. But Petersen says he’s also intrigued by

Finley’s ability to run and his intelligence, a key ingredient for

any Boise State quarterback.

”Ryan’s played in an offense that threw it a lot, which we

like. I think his best days are ahead of him in terms of his

running the ball,” Petersen said. ”He’s extremely, extremely

smart. He may be the best student coming in on the entire team. All

those things intangible-wise add up.”

The coaching staff also reached extensively into the junior

college ranks to fill needs, signing six from those schools, the

most ever, Petersen said. The list of transfers includes running

back Derrick Thomas, a junior who last season rushed for 829 yards

and nine touchdowns at Butler Community College in Kansas. On the

defensive line, the Broncos added Tutulupeatau Mataele, a 285-pound

tackle who had 14.5 tackles for loss last year while playing for

Mt. San Antonio College in California last year.

”Usually you don’t like to take that many JC guys, just because

you don’t have them that long,” Petersen said. ”That said, the JC

guys we’ve taken we’ve done pretty well with. Our coaches have a

pretty good feel for what we’re really looking for. It has to be

the right guy because he doesn’t have much time. We felt like we

had needs at these positions.”

Boise State also snatched two star players from the high school

in the small Idaho town of Fruitland. Joe Martarano, pegged for now

as a future middle linebacker and his classmate, tight end Alec

Dhaenens, helped their team win the state title in 2010. Martarano,

who was also being eyed by college and professional baseball

scouts, signed with Boise State at the end of his sophomore year,

one of the earliest commitments Petersen says he’s ever gotten.

”I think he’s got no chance as a baseball player. My scouting

sense says he can’t hit the curveball,” Petersen said with a smile

on his face. ”I know that guy is a football player and loves Boise

State.”