BOISE — Beside any quarterback that has signed with Boise State the past few seasons, no recruit was met with as much hype as Jeremy Ioane.
The native of Honolulu picked the Broncos over offers from Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington on signing day in 2010. He redshirted that year, and had just six tackles last season. Now, he’s poised to show Boise State fans why he was sought by programs across the country.
“We’re really counting on him, losing two (starting) senior safeties,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “We feel like he’s ready to go and play well.
“It’s his time to shine.”
With Cedric Febis and George Iloka graduated, along with No. 3 safety Travis Stanaway, the Broncos have plenty of room for the likes of Ioane and fellow sophomore Lee Hightower to step up.
At 5-foot-10 and 197 pounds, Ioane brings a physical presence as the Broncos’ strong safety, something so many noticed on his high school highlights.
“Hopefully I can bring the same thing,” Ioane said.
Petersen stressed that Iloka and Jeron Johnson in recent years made some key plays many didn’t notice, “saving us” as a last line of defense from a big play. That instinct is one that Ioane’s position coach said he has in abundance.
“What really impressed me about Jeremy are his angles to the football,” first-year defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said. “To be a good safety, you have to take great angles to the football. If you don’t, you’re probably going to miss a tackle, and it’s going to go for a long gain.”
Ioane “definitely took a step in the spring,” according to Petersen, and that could be in part thanks to Lake’s guidance.
“I think he’s just way smarter,” cornerback Jamar Taylor said of Ioane. “Coach Lake has kind of simplified stuff and really taught him what to do on certain things, and Jeremy’s kind of taken it and running with it.”
At Georgia in last season’s opener, filling in for Febis, Ioane had two of his six tackles on the season in his first-ever game. He admits he’s still picking up the defense and working to improve his communication, but his rise in the spring was in a big part mental.
“I guess knowing to flip the switch, being able to step up and help out the whole secondary in general,” Ioane said.
As Ioane steps into the role envisioned for him, he’s also trying to step out of the quiet, soft-spoken person he is off the field and into more of a field general.
He’s hardly cared about the perceived hype attached to his name, and though Petersen is aware of how highly-touted he was, it’s never been part of Ioane’s personality.
“Inside the program, I don’t think people feel that, especially when a kid is a humble kid and just wants to fit in and be part of this team — Jeremy’s always been about that,” Petersen said.
Soon after Lake began coaching with the Broncos, he was immediately impressed with Ioane. In fact, when speaking last week about his safety, he already is using him as an example of doing things the right way.
“What I’ve seen from him is a guy that’s willing to work, willing to learn the scheme, and he’s done everything as expected so far,” Lake said.
“He put a lot of stuff on tape in the spring I can coach young guys off of and say ‘hey, this is how it’s done.’”