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Battle at cornerback heating up for Broncos: 'They feel it now. They know we're close'

New cornerbacks coach Demario Warren said this week he finally had his full compliment of corners available at full strength for Tuesday's practice for the first time during fall camp.

And with so many worthy of playing time - he's got four players who started at least four games last season - he suddenly found himself struggling to find enough chances to get them all on the field.

“It was stressful for me trying to figure out how I’m going to get guys reps and get guys in there so they can go compete,” Warren said. “They wanted it. Every time I turned around somebody was standing right next to me ready to go. 

“They feel it now. They know we’re close. They know guys are playing well and they know they have to play well each and every day if they want to play on Saturdays.”

The battle for both starting cornerback spot is one of the most competitive and toughest of any position on the team. Caleb Biggers (eight starts), Kaonohi Kaniho (six starts), Tyric LeBeauf (five starts) and Markel Reed (four starts) were all major contributors last season. And all four are back, while Utah State transfer Jared Reed and redshirt sophomore Jaylen Clark are both pushing for playing time as well. 

“It makes it competitive,” Warren said. “There’s so many talented players out there and you have to be consistent, not only with your technique but also the scheme and situation. There's a lot going on, but they care and they go out there and compete. … They are fighting for reps.”

Biggers and Reed are the two corners who have met with the media the past week, which would indicate they are the likely starters come Sept. 3 at Oregon State.

But Warren wasn’t quite ready to call the race just yet.

“We’ll see how it all goes,” Warren said. “We still have another week of camp and two more weeks before game week so it will be interesting. But at the corner position we need a lot of guys to be good and a lot of guys to stay healthy and a lot of guys to go out there and compete to win.”

Biggers had a strong debut season with the Broncos in 2021 after transferring from Bowling Green. He started eight of the final nine games of the season - and the Broncos went 6-2 in those eight starts. 

He has the most career starts of anyone in Boise State’s cornerback room (27) and appears to have taken the lead for one of the spots with a strong fall camp. 

“I’m more confident than ever,” Biggers said. “The depth is there. We’ve got a lot of guys competing. … I’m happy to be here but it’s time to change some things. It’s time to step up and do what I do.”

Reed would seem to be the favorite at the other spot given his experience. He’s appeared in 23 games the past three seasons and made five starts while battling a number of injuries. 

He started four of the first five games last season before a knee injury ended his year prematurely. He was cleared to return to full practice over the summer and has looked good during the first two weeks of camp.

“I’m feeling 100 percent,” Reed said. “Obviously coming off the injury and 10 months of rehab it feels good to be back out there with the guys and playing with my brothers. … It’s fun now that I’m back out there with the guys and taking first team reps. It’s just a blessing to be back with the guys and be able to go out there and be able to lead again on the field.

“We’re all good. We’re building depth in the room. There’s like five of us (fighting to play) so it will be good in the games if we can rotate.”

LeBeauf had two interceptions - including a pick six - in the season opener against UCF last season but eventually lost his starting spot. He’s battled injuries as well, but is back and competing for his spot back. 

Of LeBeauf, Warren said, “He’s one of the smartest kids out there and just a great human being. He’s helping all the younger guys. … He’s kind of my second coach in the room.”

Others including Kaniho, Jared Reed and the younger Clark have been mentioned as candidates for playing time as well. 

Boise State will host the second and final scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday, and the depth chart will likely be finalized a short time later.

Smart money would seem to be on Biggers and Reed, but if last year was any indication - others will see the field too. Even when starters are named, the competition and battle doesn't seem likely to end anytime soon.

“They are learning and growing every day,” Warren said. “It’s been exciting to see our guys go out there and compete.”




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