AFTER THE LONEChristian minister playing in last January's Fiesta Bowl returned the second ofhis two interceptions 27 yards for a touchdown, giving Boise State a 28-10 leadmidway through the third quarter, he took a knee in the end zone and pointedskyward. Such celebrations are so commonplace now that most people watching oneof the greatest games in college football history-- it would end Boise State43, Oklahoma 42 in overtime--paid it little mind. Those who know Marty Tadman,though, were well aware of its significance. "Realistically, if I had neverbecome a Christian," he says, "I'd have been kicked off the team atBoise State, or ended up in jail, or worse. I had friends who were killedliving the same life I lived."
Tadman, a 5'11", 185-pound senior safety who is tied for most career interceptions (12)among active players, was not your standard-variety phenom coming out ofMission Viejo, Calif. Although he was The Orange County Register's offensiveplayer of the year as a senior wide receiver, he had also been a drug user bythe age of 13, a coke addict and heavy drinker by 15 and a marijuana dealer by16. During Tadman's official recruiting visit to Boise in January 2004, he madesuch a negative impression that his scholarship offer was nearly rescinded.
It was not untilone night the following April, while he was depressed and alone on a beach,wondering why his life was so empty, that he had an epiphany. "God revealedHimself to me," says Tadman, 21, "and gave me reason to live." Thatled to his quitting all intoxicants cold turkey, asking his mother, Joey, for aBible (his family is Jewish) and beginning his conversion to a life ofpiety.
Tadman spent thispast off-season preaching at churches around the Northwest and running a campusministry with his wife, Nicole, a Boise State soccer player. He also workedhard preparing to anchor a defense that lost its linchpin, linebacker KoreyHall, to the NFL. If the Broncos are to duplicate last season's perfect 13-0run, Tadman must become a more vocal leader, says secondary coach Marcel Yates,"but he's already one of the smartest players I've ever coached."
Tadman's nose forthe ball is a big reason why the Broncos had the 10th best turnover margin inthe nation last season and why he earned defensive-player-of-the-game honors inthe Fiesta Bowl. As much as Boise has become synonymous with offensivetrickery, it was the team's defense that led the WAC in every major category in2006. And because the Broncos are breaking in a new starting quarterback andreplacing their top three receivers, their D will have to be even more stoutthis fall. "There's no way we'll be able to top last season's ending,"says Tadman, "so this year is going to have to be exciting in differentways."
COACH: Chris Petersen
2006 RECORD: 13-0
(8-0 in WAC)
FINAL AP RANK: 5
RETURNING STARTERS: Offense 5, Defense 7
RB Ian Johnson (Jr.)
Heisman candidate led nation in touchdowns (25)
LT Ryan Clady (Jr.)
6' 6" 317-pounder paves way for ground game
CB Orlando Scandrick (Jr.)
Had 52 tackles, six pass breakups in '06
Aug. 30 WEBER STATE
Sept. 8 at Washington
27 SOUTHERN MISS.
Oct. 7 NEW MEXICO STATE
20 at Louisiana Tech
26 at Fresno State
Nov. 3 SAN JOSE STATE
10 at Utah State
23 at Hawaii
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"I had friends who were killed living the samelife I lived," says Tadman.
Boise State Photo Services (mascot);
Tadman has 12 career interceptions, six in 2006