The NFL draft is looming and thinking about it put an interesting thought in my head for this week’s roundtable question. Hypothetically, say you are allowed to bring one alumni player from the NFL back to play for your school again. Who are you picking and why?
Zach (Boise State): If I am looking at this from purely a needs standpoint I would have to choose between Demarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch. Considering how unproven the linebacker corps is, I will go with LVE. Vander Esch had the greatest linebacker season in Boise State history. If you mixed his skill set with the secondary and defensive line this team already has, it would be scary.
Lute (Colorado State): Shaq Barrett. I thought about going with Rashard Higgins or Michael Gallup, but it feels like CSU’s new head coach Jay Norvell is going to have the offense buzzing this year already. The defense is more of a question mark and the 2019 NFL sack leader and SuperBowl champion would help improve the Rams defensive front tremendously. Barrett didn’t get enough shine in my opinion when he played for CSU. He singlehandedly won us a bowl game his senior year and was a menace on opposing offenses. Maybe the second time around he’d get a little more appreciation for all he brought to the team.
Willie (Wyoming): Holy cow(boys) it’s Josh Allen. There should be very little debate on this answer despite the incredible linebackers that have also come through Laramie in recent years like Logan Wilson and Chad Muma. The reason? The lack of prominence at the quarterback position after Allen’s departure. Josh Allen holds the highest single season passing efficiency in Wyoming history at 127.78 and ranks 3rd all-time in Wyoming single-season total offense. What the Pokes have lacked has been a game-changing arm talent at the QB position and Josh Allen was arguably the best to do it in the history of the school. So yeah, we’ll go with Josh.
Aiden (Boise State): While I agree with Zach that Lawrence or Vander Esch would immensely improve the defense, I am going to venture a little outside the box for my pick. The offensive line has been a point of consternation for Bronco fans over the last handful of years and because of that, I would bring back left tackle Charles Leno Jr. He has had a successful career in the NFL with one Pro Bowl selection in 2018 and was a mainstay in the trenches for the Chicago Bears for six years. While he is 30 years old, Leno ranked 18th out of 82 qualified tackles per PFF last season. To see Hank Bachmeier have adequate time in the pocket thanks to enhanced blindside protection would be a nice change of pace.
Jos (UNLV): The Quarterback is the captain of the team, that is why I’m bringing back QB Randall Cunningham. He played 11 seasons on the Philadelphia Eagles then after a year of retirement he played five more seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, and Baltimore Ravens. In the pros, he had almost 30,000 yards passing and 207 TDs. Cunningham also was a 4x Pro Bowler. In his three years with the Rebels he was a 1st and 2nd Team All-American in back-to-back seasons and his jersey number was retired. He is probably one of the best players to come out of the southern Nevada school.
Mike (SDSU): My first thought was to bring P Matt Araiza back because I think they going to miss him and his outstanding field position abilities. Then, I was looking at the Aztecs to add in a quarterback, which has long been the missing piece for their offense/team. However, there isn’t much at that position to draw on anyway. Then my mind went to, let’s add to the team’s strengths, which are running backs, linebackers, and the secondary. I really considered Tariq Thompson, who had the talent and versatility to really make the defense run in the Aztec position. However, I am going with running back Rashaad Penny. While they have had talented running backs, it’s been more by committee than a true workhorse and dominant run game and that could prove to be a difference-maker.