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Evolution of the Bronco running game begins now

Evolution of the Bronco running game begins now

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on June 25, 2012 at 7:29 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 4:43 PM

Monday, June 25, 2012.

The Boise State running back stable is bigger today with the weekend arrival of incoming freshmen Jack Fields and Devan Demas.  The two Texas high school standouts could have a lot to say about the future of the Broncos’ rushing attack as they join player-run practices and summer conditioning.  “My goal is to play as a freshman, and I want to come in humble and show them that I'm a guy they can trust,” Fields told this spring.  It’s hard to be humble when you rush for 2,478 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior in El Paso.  But Fields, Doug Martin-ish at 5-10, 196 pounds, has the right idea.  Demas, Jeremy Avery-ish at 5-9, 176 pounds, amassed 2,114 all-purpose yards and 26 total TDs in Houston last season.  At least one of them is sure to play as a true freshman this year.

How about this?  Boise State will have four running backs from Texas in 2012.  That calls for a nickname for the quartet.  Contest, anyone?  Fields and Demas are joined by redshirt freshman Jay Ajayi, who was under consideration for playing time last fall until he blew out his knee in practice.  Word is that Ajayi is ahead of schedule on rehab and is “working his tail off” right now, knowing there are carries there for the taking behind senior starter D.J. Harper.  Ajayi began summer workouts at 219 pounds.  Those are 219 good pounds, but some will likely disappear once strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha gets done with him.  If the new Bronco backs pan out—a big “if” to be sure, but if they do—watching the Boise State running game will be more fun this fall than anyone knows.

Boise State lost one wide receiver commitment for its 2013 recruiting class late last week (yes, Chris Seisay did commit to Oregon, but as a cornerback).  But the Broncos picked up another wideout over the weekend in Jack Austin of Chino Hills, CA.  Austin was another one of the prospects who attended the BSU Football Camp this month and really stood out.  And why not?  He goes into his senior year at 6-3, 205 pounds.

Wake me up when it’s over.  Logic would tell you it’ll be this week, as Boise State has to either give formal notice of withdrawal from the Mountain West by midnight Saturday or pay the MW a lot more money for its planned move to the Big East.  Of course, it’s not too late for the Broncos to say they’re staying in the Mountain West.  And CBS’s Brett McMurphy reports the two sides are still talking about just that.  The door to the Mountain West didn’t close with the May 9 meeting the conference said it had with Boise State officials on the BSU campus.  Just the special revenue-sharing formula commissioner Craig Thompson offered the Broncos.

The long ball has been the Boise Hawks’ friend so far this season.  The Hawks clubbed four home runs in a game for the first time since 2007 last night, as Marco Hernandez, Jeimer Candelario, Shawon Dunston Jr. and Gioskar Amaya connected in a 14-11 slugfest win over the Eugene Emeralds at Memorial Stadium.  Boise leads the Northwest League with 10 home runs in 10 games.  Four of them belong to Candelario, and three happened in consecutive games last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  The last Hawk I remember doing that was current Colorado Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin, who hit six homers over five straight games in 2006.  One, incidentally, was an extremely rare inside-the-park grand slam.

The Idaho Steelheads’ Brad Ralph Era was ushered in with a baseball and a hockey stick Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.  Ralph, coming off a hugely successful two-year stint with the Augusta RiverHawks of the Southern Professional Hockey League, slap-shot the ceremonial first pitch of the Hawks game against Eugene as he was introduced as the sixth coach in Steelheads history.  Ralph is just 31 years old—prepare for an interesting dynamic with 36-year-old Steelies captain Marty Flichel, should he choose to return this October.

Nick Symmonds was pacing himself in the 800-meter prelims of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene.  Tonight the former Bishop Kelly runner hopes to employ his patented final-lap afterburners in the finals as he tries to secure a spot in the Summer Games in London.  Symmonds ran just under 1:47 in the first heat and the semifinals.  His personal best is the 1:44.10 he ran to win the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.  Symmonds will have to be a lot closer to that tonight.  This afternoon former Boise State star Jarred Rome goes through qualifying in the discus.  Rome was 13th in the discus at the Athens Olympics in 2004 but missed out on Beijing four years ago.

Boise State doesn’t have much hope of landing a swimmer in the Summer Olympics.  But sending six with Bronco ties to the U.S. Olympic Trials is impressive for a program that didn’t even exist six years ago.  Five members of the 2012 Mountain West champions will hit the water beginning today in Omaha, representing the Boise YMCA swim team.  They include departing senior stars Amber Boucher and Stephanie North and current Broncos Rachel Heaney, Chelsea Miller and Heather Harper.  In addition, incoming Bronco freshman Jenni Domanowski will swim the 200 butterfly. 

Boucher and North are each competing in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle, with Boucher, a two-time conference Swimmer of the Year for the Broncos, adding an entry in the 100-meter butterfly.  North is the top-ranked BSU representative at No.33 in the 100 free.  So a spot in the semifinals with a top 16 finish in the heats would be a major accomplishment.

Graham DeLaet was in position for a nice payday at the midpoint of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, CT.  As it is, the former Boise State standout made $12,240 with a 68th-place finish yesterday at TPC River Highlands.  Two double-bogeys on the back nine in the final round affected DeLaet’s cash intake.  So here’s the updated count.  In 16 starts this season, DeLaet has earned $539,141 and needs $129,025 over his next 10 tournaments on his medical exemption to keep his PGA Tour card. 

On the Nationwide Tour, former Bronco Troy Merritt finished tied for 29th at the Wichita Open yesterday.  Merritt played through the weekend for the second straight time after missing seven consecutive Nationwide cuts.  He shot a seven-under 64 in Friday’s second round.  Also, Boise State golf coach Kevin Burton struggled to an 8-over 80 in the first round of the PGA Pro National Championship in Seaside, CA.  Burton is way below the projected cut line.

This Day In Sports…June 25, 1968:

Bobby Bonds of the San Francisco Giants becomes only the second player in major league history to hit a grand slam home run in his first game.  He played right field that day alongside his mentor, centerfielder Willie Mays.  Bonds would go on to play 14 seasons in the bigs and hit 332 career homers.  At the time of his major league debut, Bonds had a son named Barry who was a month shy of his fourth birthday.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)