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Boise State's Kaonohi Kaniho creating his own Bronco legacy

"I like being on my own and kind of figuring out who I am without him always by my side. Obviously I miss him, but it's good," Kaonohi said on his brother, Kekaula.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise State is set to host UT Martin Saturday in Albertsons Stadium in its first home contest since November 2021. While Bronco Nation may be dwelling on the fact this is supposed to be a matchup on The Blue with Michigan State, not an FCS opponent, the Skyhawks are not to be taken lightly.

UT Martin boasts a balanced offensive attack, leading the Ohio Valley Conference and ranked second in the FCS with an average of 330.5 passing yards per game. 

Graduate quarterback Dresser Winn is yet to be sacked in 2022. Winn has completed 51-of-78 passes (65.4%), tallying six touchdowns to just one interception. 

Come kickoff at 2 p.m. MT Saturday on The Blue, one of the Broncos tasked with slowing down the Skyhawks' passing attack is redshirt sophomore cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho.

Kaniho missed some time this offseason recovering from a torn labrum. As a second-year player in 2021, the Kahuku, Hawaii native appeared in 10 games and made six starts. 

When week one rolled around, Kaniho appeared behind senior Markel Reed as the Broncos' No. 2 cornerback. In the season opener at Oregon State, Reed was injured in the first quarter, thrusting Kaniho into action and the No. 1 role. 

"I've always been taught to just keep my head in the game and stay locked in and be ready for my moment," Kaonohi said. "So, unfortunately [Reed] went down and I had to step up."

Those who have followed the Boise State football program closely remember Kaonohi as the younger brother of Kekaula Kaniho, a force on the Broncos' defense for the past five years. 

While Kaonohi is no stranger to the bright lights having recorded 26 tackles and two interceptions last fall, this is his first year without his big brother by his side in the City of Trees. 

As opportunities stack for the younger Kaniho brother, Kaonohi is using the moment to create his own Boise State legacy.

"It was different the first couple of days, but it's normal now, I mean, I like being on my own and kind of figuring out who I am without him always by my side," Kaonohi said. "Obviously I miss him, but it's good."

During Tuesday's media availability, Bronco cornerbacks coach Demario Warren said Kaonohi's performance is a reflection of the hard work he submitted during the grind of winter, spring and fall, despite battling an injury.

"I think he wants to be his own guy. He plays a different position. He wants to be successful. He wants to be the best version of himself as he can be and you see it in his work ethic," Warren said. "He came off of injury, wasn't able to practice a lot, but continually worked on his footwork and earned some playing time. So, he just wants to continue to grow. One of his goals were to get into the rotation and all of a sudden, he's playing a lot."

Warren is no stranger to the FCS. Prior to joining the Boise State coaching staff in January, Warren served as the Southern Utah head coach for six seasons and spent 14 years total with the Thunderbirds. 

Bronco Nation: For everything you need to know about the Broncos' home opener Saturday at Albertsons Stadium against UT Martin, check out KTVB's Game Day Guide.

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