Saturday, March 31, 2012

Broncos Ready to Reload at Running Back

After producing Doug Martin, arguably the nation's best and most durable running back, Boise State is ready to unleash new talent on the gridiron this fall.

D.J. Harper (5-9, 201) was granted a sixth year of eligibility due to injuries that kept him out of most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and the Texas Tornado is prepared to make the most of it.  Harper has run for 1,655 yards and 24 touchdowns in essentially three seasons of action and is the man in the Bronco backfield.  Harper ranks 9th in school history in rushing touchdowns and is 15th in career rushing yards.

Yet the Bronco way has never been built on one guy.  Now that Martin has shown what a Boise State running back can do and likely will become the second Bronco back to be drafted in the second round, the opportunity is there for someone to begin building a case for becoming the next great Bronco runner to reach the NFL.

Devan Demas (5-9, 176) and Jack Fields were members of the amazing Bronco recruiting class of 2012, and at least one of those will likely play as a true freshman.  Interestingly enough, Fields is a lot like Doug Martin in that he has great speed but can also hit the inside holes with power, while Demas is similar to Harper, a guy with breakneck speed on the outside.  Demas, from Harper's Cypress Creek High School in Texas, accumulated 2,114 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns in earning All-District as a senior.  

Fields (5-10, 196) was a three-year starter at Americas High School in El Paso, Texas.  He earned second team All-Texas after rushing 280 times for 2,478 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior.  Fields was also named co-Most Valuable Player at the Texas 5A level.  Can you imagine trying to stop the duo of Demas and Fields?  Much like stopping the duo of Martin and Harper.  Again, at least one will likely play this fall and perhaps both--tough to keep them off the field.

Drew Wright (5-9, 201) returns for his senior season after enjoying his most productive season for the Broncos.  Wright gained 218 yards and scored three times last year for the #6 Broncos.

Raphiel Lambert (5-7, 205) found it tough to break through the depth chart but with Martin gone, he might get a chance to show what he can do.  Lambert carried 199 times for 1,741 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior in high school, an amazing 7.4 yards per carry.  That is the talent level Boise State has in reserve.

Jay Ajayi (6-0, 211) was the heir apparent at running back until off-the-field problems got in his way and given the talent of Demas and Fields, he may be hard-pressed to resume his place in the pecking order.  Ajayi came in as one of the nation's top running backs in 2011 after rushing for 2,240 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior.  But one thing we are blessed with in Boise is a coach of the high caliber of Chris Petersen, who knows that men are not judged by their statistics but rather their character, and Ajayi is finding that out.  

Phillip Hogan (5-6, 163) walked on to the program and redshirted last season.  Hogan earned all-conference honors while rushing for 500 yards as a senior in Honolulu, Hawai'i.  

Fullback Dan Paul (6-0, 251) was one of the most missed players last season--the Broncos could have used one more block last year on several key plays, especially in the lone loss against TCU.  Paul had to sit out the entire season battling back from injury and his absence showed how great he is.  Paul doesn't carry the ball often, but his value in blocking and receiving makes him one of the great unsung heroes at Boise State.  I say unsung meaning the outside world, for any Bronco fan knows how great Paul is.

Armand Nance played mostly tight end in high school but Coach Petersen knows the value of having a beast like Nance in the backfield and he will at least begin his career at fullback.  People that talk about Boise State losing starters from last year's team have no idea of the talent such as Nance that is waiting in the wings.  The 6-2, 245-pound machine of destruction will wreak havoc on opponents, perhaps as early as this season.

Jamal Wilson (6-1, 240) played linebacker in high school but  he'll be another Clydesdale in the Bronco backfield.

You can't replace a Doug Martin--he was one of the best backs ever to put on a Bronco uniform, but looking at the four-deep for Boise State at running back this fall and adding a healthy Dan Paul, the team is in excellent hands.

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