AFTER THE LONE
Christian minister playing in last January's Fiesta Bowl returned the second of
his two interceptions 27 yards for a touchdown, giving Boise State a 28-10 lead
midway through the third quarter, he took a knee in the end zone and pointed
skyward. Such celebrations are so commonplace now that most people watching one
of the greatest games in college football history-- it would end Boise State
43, Oklahoma 42 in overtime--paid it little mind. Those who know Marty Tadman,
though, were well aware of its significance. "Realistically, if I had never
become a Christian," he says, "I'd have been kicked off the team at
Boise State, or ended up in jail, or worse. I had friends who were killed
living 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 of
Mission Viejo, Calif. Although he was The Orange County Register's offensive
player of the year as a senior wide receiver, he had also been a drug user by
the age of 13, a coke addict and heavy drinker by 15 and a marijuana dealer by
16. During Tadman's official recruiting visit to Boise in January 2004, he made
such a negative impression that his scholarship offer was nearly rescinded.
It was not until
one 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 revealed
Himself to me," says Tadman, 21, "and gave me reason to live." That
led to his quitting all intoxicants cold turkey, asking his mother, Joey, for a
Bible (his family is Jewish) and beginning his conversion to a life of
Tadman spent this
past off-season preaching at churches around the Northwest and running a campus
ministry with his wife, Nicole, a Boise State soccer player. He also worked
hard preparing to anchor a defense that lost its linchpin, linebacker Korey
Hall, to the NFL. If the Broncos are to duplicate last season's perfect 13-0
run, 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 for
the ball is a big reason why the Broncos had the 10th best turnover margin in
the nation last season and why he earned defensive-player-of-the-game honors in
the Fiesta Bowl. As much as Boise has become synonymous with offensive
trickery, it was the team's defense that led the WAC in every major category in
2006. And because the Broncos are breaking in a new starting quarterback and
replacing their top three receivers, their D will have to be even more stout
this 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 different