Boise State vs Colorado State Football

Boise State linebacker Kekaula Kaniho (28) hauls in an interception against Colorado State on Oct. 19, 2018, at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

The Idaho Press is counting down the 20 most important players for the Boise State football team in 2019. Next up on our list is No. 16, Kekaula Kaniho:

At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Boise State defensive back Kekaula Kaniho is not one of the biggest players on field.

Being one of the biggest playmakers will do just fine for him, though.

Kaniho had two defensive touchdowns as a true freshman in 2017 and added a scoop and score on a 74-yard punt return last season to give him three touchdowns the past two seasons.

He appeared in all 13 games last season, making eight starts, and led the team with three interceptions. He had four pass break-ups, a sack, 3.0 tackles-for-loss and 40 tackles. On a veteran defense the underclassman proved he needed a spot on the field.

Kaniho has a nose for the ball — and the end zone. He had five defensive touchdowns as a senior in high school, giving him eight touchdowns on defense or special teams in the past three years.

The junior has played both safety and nickel for the Broncos and is listed as a safety on the roster online this summer. Boise State lost corner Tyler Horton, but brings back the rest of the secondary. That includes DeAndre Pierce, a starting safety that appeared in just four games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Boise State has plenty of talent on the back end, but they are hoping to improve upon some poor pass defense numbers from last season. The Broncos ranked 70th in the country by allowing 233.0 passing yards per game.

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Kaniho will likely see most of his action at nickel this season with Pierce and safety Kekoa Nawahine both returning. The Broncos are hoping to be better on defense this fall in several areas, and they’ll need a playmaker like Kaniho to step up and help it happen.

Boise State’s 20 Most Important Players in 2019{/span}

No. 20: Chase Hatada

No. 19: DeAndre Pierce

No. 18: Octavius Evans

No. 17: John Bates

{span class=”print_trim”}No. 16: Kekaula Kaniho

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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