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2024 Idaho High School Football Preview: Top 10 Defensive Linemen
Who made the cut among Idaho's ten best defensive linemen?
Published: 7/9/2024 2:51:07 PM


As we head towards a new football season in the fall of 2024, is once again getting fans ready by unveiling the Top 10 players at each position.  These lists feature players from all corners of the state, and from all six classification levels.  Each week, we'll publish a new list of Top 10 players.  Here's the schedule:

July 3 (Offensive Linemen)

July 9 (Defensive Linemen)

July 16 (Special Teams)

July 23 (Running Backs)

July 30 (Linebackers)

August 6 (Wide Receivers/Tight Ends)

August 13 (Defensive Backs)

August 20 (Quarterbacks)

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Defensive Linemen to watch out for in 2024.  These selections have been made by the editorial staff at, and are listed in alphabetical order by school.  We made these selections based on a number of factors, including: returning All-State or All-Conference pedigree, college recruiting hype, and the good old-fashioned eye test.


Shepard Fish, 12, Capital

This long, lean athlete uses his frame and leverage exceptionally well.  Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 230 pounds, Fish finished his junior season at Capital with 58 tackles, 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.  Fish took a lot of the recruiting intrigue away by committing to the University of Idaho in June.  Vandals coach Jason Eck is happy he did.


Wade Vining, 12, Council

If you’re feeling like it’s déjà vu all over again, you’re not alone.  Wade Vining is the second member of the Vining family to make our Top 10 Defensive Lineman list in the past three years.  The older Vining, Wyatt, was a standout defensive end.  And while Wade can hold his own on the edge, he’s also really effective inside, using his 6-foot frame and 230 pound body well.  Could Wade join Wyatt at the College of Idaho?  Yotes fans sure hope so.


Renan Loper, 12, Declo

The 6-foot-1, 255-pound Loper is a two-way standout for Declo at center and defensive tackle.  Loper registered 41 tackles a year ago, including six tackles for loss, and his stock has only climbed this summer.  Loper was named the Defensive Line MVP at a football camp hosted by perennial NAIA power Carroll College in Helena, Montana.


Garrett Nelson, 12, Firth

Nelson presents an interesting paradox.  The 6-foot-4, 250 pound senior is the only repeat selection on our Top 10 list.  And yet, the only underclassmen to make our Top 10 list a year ago is still relatively underrated statewide.  Sure, folks in the Nuclear Conference know all about him, as he was once again named to the 1st Team All-Conference defensive unit.  But Nelson, like the rest of his Firth teammates, quietly goes about his business, opting for team success instead of individual accolades.  Make no mistake, though, Nelson is a top-end talent in Idaho.


Brock Boyer, 12, Kendrick

We mentioned this during our Top 10 Offensive Lineman countdown, but Kendrick’s staggering amount of success over the past four years starts up front on the offensive and defensive lines.  A year ago, Boyer, Carson Hogan and Dallas Morgan comprised the starting offensive and defensive lines for the eight-man juggernaut.  Morgan has graduated, but was a previous Top 10 Defensive Lineman.  Hogan made our Top 10 Offensive Lineman list this year.  And obviously Boyer made our Top 10 Defensive Lineman list.  They all played off of each other exceptionally well, and it will be fun to see Hogan and Boyer teaming up again this year.


Trevor Knowlton, 12, Lewis County

There aren’t many players at the 1A level that can match Knowlton’s 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, not to mention the high motor energy that comes with it.  Knowlton was an excellent tight end for the Highland (Craigmont)-Nezperce co-op a year ago, but it’s at defensive end where he really shined.  Knowlton was the best defensive lineman in the 1A Whitepine League (non-Kendrick division), and coaches around the state took notice, as he was named to the All-State team as well.


Orrin Miller, 12, North Fremont

When people first hear the name Orrin Miller, they immediately think about his exploits on the wrestling mats.  Miller went 50-4 a year ago, and took second at 220 pounds at the 2A State Tournament.  But Miller is sneakily quite the football player, as well.  Like Garrett Nelson from Firth, Miller was named a 1st Team All-Nuclear Conference selection on the defensive line.  Also like Nelson, Miller also made the 1st Team Offensive Line as well.  When the Cougars and Huskies meet up for their annual rivalry clash this season, keep an eye on these two going head-to-head on both lines.


Isaiah Reed, 12, Rocky Mountain

Reed perfectly personifies today’s ideal “edge rusher”.  A new hybrid linebacker-defensive end position that’s taken college and NFL defensive coordinators by storm over the past ten years, Reed can play either spot with ease.  His 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame allows him to use his quickness and explosiveness to his advantage.  Reed led the Grizzlies in total tackles (102), tackles for loss (20) and sacks (9) last year, while adding 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.  He holds offers from Air Force, Army, Idaho, Nevada, and Yale so far, a list that should expand as we get closer to the start of the season.


Rowan Rupp, 11, Rocky Mountain

The rich get richer at Rocky Mountain High, where Rupp ranks as one of the best juniors in Idaho, regardless of position.  Rupp is a little larger than Reed, standing 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, but he is similarly versatile.  Rupp picked up his first Division 1 offer this summer from Nevada, and was named Defensive Line MVP at Boise State’s camp.  After missing 3 games with a broken hand in 2023, Rupp is ready for a breakout junior campaign.


Dallas Nelson, 12 West Side

West Side resumed their usual perch atop the Class 2A podium after a one-year hiatus in 2022.  The Pirates used the usual formula of an excellent running game and a stingy defense.  That defense was led up front by defensive tackle Arron McDaniel (a Top 10 selection a year ago), but Dallas Nelson quietly put together a strong year as well.  The defensive end finished with 50 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and a 1st Team All-State selection.

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