Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Demarcus Lawrence will be the leader of Boise State's defensive line in 2013.
The Broncos will be returning three of the four starters from 2012 on its defensive front this coming year, and that will be a huge boost for them, especially early in the season.
The trio of Demarcus Lawrence, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and Samuel Ukwuachu were productive for the Broncos last season, combining for 120 total tackles (25 for loss) and 15.5 sacks. They were a big reason, along with senior Michael Atkinson, why the Broncos were one of the best run defenses in the Mountain West last season.
Lawrence is definitely the leader of the group heading into 2013, establishing himself as an excellent pass-rusher by racking up over half of those 15.5 total sacks last year. Look for Lawrence to become the leader of this unit with the departure of nose tackle Michael Atkinson.
The Broncos also did a nice job of finding a potential replacement for Atkinson by signing junior college recruit Justin Taimatuia as well as Kamalei Correa and Nick Terry.
Taimatuia, who is a big body at 6’2”, 295 pounds, appears to be the likely heir to Atkinson’s starting spot. A 3-star athlete, as rated by Rivals.com, Taimatuia’s size makes him the most comparable to Atkinson of the three class of 2013 pickups.
Hopefully for Boise State, Taimatuia can become an intimidating force in the middle that makes opposing teams shy away of running up the gut. Atkinson’s stats don’t necessarily tell the entire story, but he was instrumental in Boise State’s strong run defense during the nine games he played in 2012.