Tyreque Jones

Boise State safety Tyreque Jones (21) makes a tackle on San Diego State running back Chase Jasmin (22) at Albertsons Stadium on Oct. 6, 2018.

The Idaho Press is counting down the top 20 questions facing the Boise State football team heading into the 2019 season. The next entry in our series is question No. 17: How will the playing time shake out in the secondary?

There figures to be plenty of competition for playing time in the Boise State secondary despite only one starting spot being available.

Corner Tyler Horton’s departure opened up a spot for the likes of Jalen Walker, Chris Mitchell and Tyric Lebeauf to compete for leading into the season opener at Florida State. Avery Williams will be the Broncos’ top corner on the opposite side.

At safety, the Broncos bring back starter Kekoa Nawahine and four other safeties that started games last season — plus The Citidel grad transfer Khafari Buffalo and nickel Kekaula Kaniho. The plethora of options figures to keep things interesting when it comes to playing time.

The favorite to win the other safety spot is DeAndre Pierce, who started the first four games of the season (and every game in 2017) before suffering a season-ending spleen injury. He was a potential All-Mountain West candidate before suffering the injury, but is healthy now and probably will earn the spot.

But Tyreque Jones started five games in his place last year before getting hurt himself, and Jordan Happle started the final four after that. Evan Tyler even started a game in place of Nawahine late in the year. All three were impressive when given extended playing time.

Buffalo is the wild card after transferring from The Citidel for his final college season. Most graduate transfers don’t go somewhere to sit on the bench, but the Broncos appear to have several quality options at safety. He also played corner at The Citidel and could be an option to compete for the open starting spot there, although he was announced by Boise State as a safety.

And then there’s Kaniho, who has thrived as a nickel in his two years with the Broncos but also has seen a little time at both safety and corner. He’s already proven that he needs to be on the field as much as possible.

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The most likely lineup would be Williams and Walker at corner, and Nawahine and Pierce at safety — at least to start the year. But the others are deserving of playing time as well, and how much they are rotated in will be worth watching.

Having potentially eight or nine players worthy of playing time at the four secondary spots is a great problem to have, and the back end should be a strength of Boise State’s defense in 2019. But who wins the spot at corner and how the depth chart and rotation looks at safety will be storylines to follow early in the year.

Countdown to Camp Questions

No. 17: How will playing time shake out in the secondary?

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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