Boise State Football: Who Replaces Demarcus Lawrence in Starting Lineup in 2014?

Martin SondermannAnalyst IIFebruary 19, 2014

Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (8) holds off Nevada's Joel Bitonio, left, with one hand while reaching for Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo (17), right, in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 in Boise, Idaho. Boise State beat Nevada, 34-17. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Demarcus Lawrence came to Boise State in 2012 as a JUCO transfer. He played his freshman season at Butler Community College, where he earned first-team JC Gridwire and second-team NJCAA All-America honors, according to

As a redshirt sophomore, Lawrence made his presence known quickly on The Blue. He started 11 games at defensive end and earned first-team All-Mountain West honors. He was also named Boise State's Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman.

Lawrence continued his success as a junior in 2013 and was named a Walter Camp All-American for his efforts. He was also named to the first-team All-Mountain West team for the second season in a row.

Demarcus Lawrence may have only played two seasons as a Bronco, but his impact was huge, and he is going to be difficult to replace.

When Lawrence announced that he was going to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, it probably didn't come as a shock to most Boise State fans. Lawrence is a dominating player who should be no later than a mid-round draft pick. lists Lawrence as a third- to sixth-round pick.

A look at the numbers, and it's easy to see why Demarcus Lawrence made the decision to leave school after his junior season to pursue an NFL career.

Demarcus Lawrence Career Stats at Boise State

Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

It wasn't all smooth sailing for Lawrence as a Bronco. He was suspended on a couple of occasions by head coach Chris Petersen. Lawrence missed the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl as a result of one of those suspensions 

Those troubles, however, now seem far behind the 6'3", 245-pound defensive end, and he seems eager to take on the next challenge. As reported by Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman, Lawrence said all the right things when announcing his decision.

For these last two years I have had the honor of being part of the Boise State family and have had an incredibly special group of teammates, coaches, trainers, and staff around me. While Coach Peterson’s decision to take the Washington job had some influence on my decision I felt it was in the best interests of my family and myself to pursue my lifelong dream to become an NFL player. It is my hope in making this decision that my coaches, administration, teammates and the Broncos fans continue to support me both through prayer and encouragement in the pursuit of my dreams.

Fans, coaches, players and certainly his family will support Lawrence, but the Broncos are going to miss him in 2014, and it is going to take a special player to fill his shoes. 

Looking at the current roster there are three candidates who seem to have the potential to fill some of the void Lawrence left behind. Of course, all of that could change by the time fall camp rolls around. But, for now let's consider three.

The two players who found themselves behind Demarcus last season at times were Beau Martin and Sam McCaskill. Both of these players have potential, and of the two of them Martin had the most impressive season in 2013.

However, the player that just might make huge waves in his first season on The Blue is Rondell McNair.

McNair is a 6'4", 250-pound monster. He swallows up ball-carriers, and his quickness to the quarterback is every bit what Lawrence brought to the table. He is big, fast, athletic and plays with the kind of fire that fans are going to love.

Demarcus Lawrence will be missed, this is true. But, Rondell McNair may cause the pain to subside quickly.

He is truly a diamond in the rough, and if he plays to his potential, Boise State may have another All-American on its hands. That is a tremendous amount of pressure to put on someone, but it seems like McNair thrives in that kind of environment.