Count Durrant Miles among those who aren’t surprised to see Leighton Vander Esch shine in his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys.
Miles, a defensive end, played with Vander Esch for three seasons on Boise State’s defense.
“I had all the confidence in the world in Leighton,” said Miles, who was in Fort Worth to take part in the College Gridiron Showcase at McNair Stadium this week.
“On the field, he’s an animal. I knew it was going to carry over to the next level. It was expected. Leighton holds himself to that.”
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The Cowboys selected Vander Esch with the 19th overall pick in last spring’s NFL Draft, and he hasn’t disappointed as a rookie. He earned second-team All-Pro honors this season, leading the Cowboys with 176 tackles (according to the coaches breakdown) in the regular season.
Vander Esch also had three tackles for loss, five QB pressures, two interceptions and six passes defended during the season.
In the Cowboys’ wild card win over the Seattle Seahawks last Saturday, Vander Esch had a team-leading 12 tackles (according to coaches breakdown) with one QB pressure and one pass defended.
Vander Esch will look to do the same this weekend in the Cowboys’ divisional round matchup against the NFC’s No. 2-seeded Los Angeles Rams.
That is the type of production his former teammates remember at Boise State.
“It was great having him behind us because it made things a lot easier up front cause they were so worried about him behind us,” Miles said. “It was awesome. Every day was fun with him – just the drive he has and the passion he has for the game.”
Miles is now trying to follow in Vander Esch’s footsteps and make it to the next level. They keep in close contact, and Miles knows he doesn’t have to look much further than the Cowboys to see it can be done.
Along with Vander Esch, the Cowboys have former Boise State defenders on their roster in DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford.
“We always joke about the Dallas Broncos,” Miles said.