Blake Renaud

Boise State junior linebacker Blake Renaud had the best special teams hit or tackle five times last season, earning the honor of leading the team onto the field with the “The Hammer” the following game.

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BOISE — You likely won’t find linebacker Blake Renaud jumping up and down or screaming to fire up his defensive teammates before a practice or game this fall.

But that doesn’t figure to stop him from making plays and having a big impact on the young Boise State defense.

The soft-spoken Renaud would prefer to let his actions on the field do the talking, hoping to lead the rest of the linebackers with strong play in his first season as a starter for the Broncos.

“He leads by example right now,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “He’s a man of few words for sure.”

The 6-foot-2, 243-pound bruiser agrees.

“I’m not much of a talker,” Renaud said. “I like to try and show it on the field and stuff like that, but I’m happy about being one of the top guys.

“That’s how I’ve always done it. I don’t yell. I’ll try and talk to them but I’m not the yeller on the team. I try to lead by example.”

Renaud played 10 games as a true freshman in 2011 but saw most of his action on special teams. He continued to make an impact in that area last year as a sophomore, but also was a key contributor to the linebacker rotation. He finished sixth on the team with 46 tackles.

But with linebackers Tommy Smith and J.C. Percy — two of the top three tacklers on the team — gone to graduation, the product of the famed De La Salle High in Concord, Calif., moves into a more prominent role this fall as a junior.

“He’s played a lot of football,” defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. “We were saying the same thing a year ago about J.C. and Tommy when Byron (Hout) graduated. The expectation is he’s going to step in. He knows the defense, he’s played a lot of football and he should pick up right where those guys left off.”

Renaud contributed plenty last season despite not being a starter. He had a career-high 10 tackles against UNLV, forced a fumble against Nevada and had three pass break-ups against Southern Miss.

He led the Broncos onto the field with “The Hammer” five different times, an honor given to the special teams player who with the best hit or tackle the previous game, and earned the Hammer Award at the team banquet after the season.

With linebacker Tyler Gray also moving into a starting spot for a defense that also has new starters in the secondary and defensive line, the Broncos are counting on Renaud to step in and be the man in the middle — whether he wants to talk or not.

“The nice thing about Blake is he’s one of those guys that’s played a lot of ball for us,” Petersen said. “He might not have been one of those headline names, but he’s been very good on our special teams and he has played in there with those backers and made a lot of plays for us.

“Our guys will pay attention to the guys that are leading by example, and he’s very physical to get things started, and he’s a great guy to have in the box, and I think everybody will feed off him.

“He’s very physical and he understands things, so now it’s his time to take that next step. A lot of people should be knowing his name.”

B.J. Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013 and is a three-time winner of the NSMA Idaho Sportswriter of the Year Award. He appears on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket every Friday at 4 p.m. for the Blue Turf Sports report.

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