BOISE, Idaho -- The Boise State football program's history of placing defensive backs in the NFL helps the Broncos recruit the next wave of standouts.
It also helps develop them.
Jamar Taylor, a 2013 second-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins, set a lasting example for junior cornerback Donte Deayon.
And Taylor supplemented those lessons during the offseason by watching video with Deayon.
Now it's Deayon who is leading the defensive backs group and trying to pass on what he has learned. He played as a true freshman in 2012 alongside Taylor and Jerrell Gavins, who is in the Canadian Football League.
Taylor and Gavins were known for their ambitious work habits.
"It was great guidance," Deayon said, "because I've seen it firsthand and how they performed on the field doing all the things off the field."
Deayon emerged as one of the Broncos' best players last season. He grabbed six interceptions, broke up nine passes and made 54 tackles to earn second-team All-Mountain West honors.
He's a preseason all-conference pick this year. Coach Bryan Harsin signaled how important Deayon is to the program by placing him on one of the banners that adorn the east exterior of Albertsons Stadium, with the phrase "Bleed Blue."
"True Bronco. That's what it is," Deayon said of the longtime Boise State motto. "I'm buying into the program."
Deayon fits the traditional Bronco mold -- undersized, under-recruited, hard-working, feisty and prolific.
He grabbed 11 interceptions as a junior in the heart of Pac-12 country -- for Summit High in Rialto, California -- but wasn't heavily recruited because of his size. He arrived at Boise State at 5-foot-9, 143 pounds.
He has reached a career-high 157 pounds this summer, which is still small by major college football standards.
But Deayon refuses to use his size as an excuse, no matter how big the receiver.
"I don't see that that's a factor," he said. "Perfection and preparation -- if you prepare harder than the receivers, it doesn't really matter how good or big or strong they are."
He judged his own 2013 season as "OK."
He honed in on his technique during the offseason and got stronger than he thought possible.
"I've got pretty good ball skills when the ball is in the air," he said. "I've got to be more physical with the receivers and just make sure I stay glued to them."
Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, the man credited with developing most of the Broncos' NFL defensive backs, said Deayon shares the work habits of some of the Bronco greats who preceded him. Cornerback draft picks produced by Yates include Orlando Scandrick (fifth round, 2008), Kyle Wilson (first, 2010), Brandyn Thompson (seventh, 2011) and Taylor.
"I wouldn't quite say [Deayon] is where he needs to be as far as those guys, but he's up there," Yates said. "He's not far off. The thing about Kyle, Jamar and all those guys is they worked hard every day. They came in every day and they worked their butts off. And he's the same type of player. He has some time to get better, and he's doing it."
Deayon is the feature player in a secondary that returns eight guys who combined for 64 of the 65 starts last year at the five positions in the backfield.
Senior Jeremy Ioane, also an All-Mountain West second-teamer, and junior Darian Thompson are the safeties. Senior Corey Bell is the nickel. Sophomore Jonathan Moxey and seniors Cleshawn Page, Mercy Maston and Bryan Douglas continue to compete for the other cornerback spot.
The Broncos also have experienced backup safety Dillon Lukehart and two young, intriguing safeties -- sophomore Chanceller James, who also plays nickel, and true freshman Dylan Sumner-Gardner.
There's enough talent, experience and depth to give the Broncos reason to believe they can make last year's porous pass defense a one-year hiccup. They allowed 249.2 passing yards and 24.8 points per game last season.
"If there's a touchdown or a big play, it usually goes through us," Thompson said. "And we've got to take that stuff personal. ... A lot of us have come back, so that's experience that's under our belt to help us prevent making those mistakes again."
Last year, Deayon said, there was a feeling among the defensive backs that it was OK to get beat sometimes. Maybe that was the inexperience.
This year, the defensive backs expect the kind of lockdown play that made Taylor, Wilson and others NFL prospects.
"These coaches were here when those players were here as well," Deayon said, "so you know you're getting the same coaching. Now it's all on you to perfect it."
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