Boise State redshirt junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was announced as one of 63 nominees for the 2017 Burlsworth Trophy, given annually to the most outstanding FBS college football player who began his career as a walk-on.
This season, Vander Esch has established himself as one of the top defenders in the FBS and the Mountain West, ranking second in the conference in total tackles and solo tackles. He is tied for seventh in the Mountain West with two interceptions.
Vander Esch, a native of Riggins, Idaho, came to Boise State after a standout three-sport career at Salmon River High School. Vander Esch helped the team to 1A Division II state titles from 2013-14, being named Idaho's 1A Division II Player of the Year. On the basketball court, he helped Salmon River to consecutive state titles as a junior and senior.
Joining the Broncos as a walk-on prior to the 2014 season, Vander Esch redshirted his true freshman campaign and was awarded a scholarship in April 2015.
Boise State (6-2, 4-0 MW) puts its unbeaten Mountain West mark on the line this Saturday, hosting Nevada at Albertsons Stadium in a 5 p.m. contest that will be broadcast on ESPNU.