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Full Circle

Marcel Yates comes home to BSU.

Story and Photography by Ken Levy

From secondary coach at Boise State University to co-defensive coordinator for the Texas A&M Aggies and now, defensive coordinator at BSU, Eagle’s Marcel Yates has played with and coached some of the best.

As defensive coordinator, Yates will run BSU’s defense. He left the Aggies after two years as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He achieved “huge” success in his first year with the Aggies, a first-class SEC team that beat Alabama on the road, then Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.

But “what I learned, that’s really most important to you, is family, the guys you coach and the people you work with,” he said. “That’s what brought me back to Boise State.”

Yates is looking forward to working with longtime friend and new BSU coach Bryan Harsin. They played together at BSU and coached here for eight years. Harsin was offensive coordinator, and Yates said their styles fit well.

“It’s good to be working for, and with, a friend. We were both kind of raised the same way, and it’s a good thing that we came here at the same time,” he said. “We want to help each other grow and be good coaches.”

Besides his defensive strategies, Marcel believes student athletes must also be competitive in the classroom, gaining the best education they can.

“If you can get them to be superior or above-average students, then they’ll be above-average players. If they succeed off the football field, then most of the time they’ll succeed on it,” he said.

During his first stint here, “a whole lot of those guys graduated from college with over a 3.0,” he said. “Even though they love football, they also understand how important it was to be good students at the same time.

Yates was a safety with BSU from 1996-1999 under three different coaches: the late Pokey Allen, Houston Nutt and Dirk Koetter.

In his senior year at BSU, Yates intercepted a pass against UCLA at Rose Bowl Stadium. A native of Los Angeles, Yates’ ailing grandmother got to watch him play college ball for the first time, and pick off the pass right in front of her.

As captain of the team that night, Yates escorted the mother of Paul Reyna, a BSU defensive lineman who died in a freak accident. The game was a tribute to Reyna, who was from the Los Angeles area, and his mom was made honorary captain.

Yates was a member of the team during BSU’s first-ever bowl appearance, when they defeated Louisville in the Humanitarian Bowl.

He has a reputation as a first-rate recruiter, bringing in several key players that led to BSU’s huge successes over the years, including Titus Young, Jeremy Avery, Kyle Wilson, Orlando Scandrick and many others. Many have gone on to NFL teams.

Safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner decided to follow Yates to BSU and committed in January. Outside linebacker Jabril Frazer signed with BSU in early February, and Yates is talking to other promising recruits.

“We’re going after kids we may not have gone after in the past, and we understand how important it is to get recruits in. The key is to not only recruit the right players, but the right people that fit your program and your style of play.”

That style, he said, is a physical and fast defense.

Yates plans to stick around for a while, especially for his family, which includes wife Melanie, son Eric, 18 and daughter Kaybrie, 6. They live in Eagle.