BOISE, Idaho — Injuries are not foreign to the game of football, but last fall, Boise State tested the depths of their depth-chart in ways they probably never wanted to imagine attempting.
The Broncos started three different running backs, five different cornerbacks, six different starting combinations on the offensive line, and ran out eight unique starting-11 lineups on defense.
It’s probably unnecessary to go further but I will.
A grand total of six Broncos managed to start every game of the 2021 campaign at a consistent position. That durable group of guys was exclusive to left tackle John Ojukwu and quarterback Hank Bachmeier on offense, along with defensive tackle Scott Matlock, linebacker Ezekiel Noa and safeties JL Skinner and Tyreque Jones on defense.
With fall camp set to kick off on Wednesday, a new season brings a much-needed clean bill of health for the Boise State football team, as the diagnosis of the Broncos’ initial 2022 heath report brought plenty of optimism.
“With our players returning from postseason surgeries, our offseason has gone tremendously well for those guys,” head coach Andy Avalos said. “We’ve been able to not only rehab but bring guys back to a level where they’re going to be able to compete in fall camp.”
When it comes to returning players, only safety Tyreque Jones still be significantly limited during the first week of practice. Outside of that, a small group of freshmen will have to manage their workload out of the gates.
“I’m really excited about where the major of the guys are,” Avalos said. “There will be very few guys that are limited as we enter fall camp, so the competition level is going to be high.”
Both senior left tackle John Ojukwu and senior cornerback Markel Reed have successfully recovered from offseason surgeries and will be full-go on the first day of fall camp.
“We’re excited to see them back out there on the field,” Avalos said on Monday.
Ojukwu is a two-time All-Mountain West recipient. The Boise High School alumnus has started 29 straight games for the Broncos.
Reed got off to a great start last season, racking up 18 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the first four games. Injuries plagued the rest of his junior campaign, as he was limited to just one appearance the rest of the fall.
Few players on the team have a stronger grasp on a starting role than Ojukwu does at left tackle. As for Reed, he will be involved in a highly contested cornerback battle that includes the likes of seniors Caleb Biggers, Tyric LeBeauf and sophomore Kaonohi Kaniho.
Senior tight end Riley Smith and sophomore cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho both had offseason shoulder surgery. Their return to action will be “slightly modified,” according to Avalos, but will be “ready to compete” when practice opens on Wednesday.
“They’ve done an awesome job this summer with their training and development,” Avalos said.
- WR – Zamondre Merriweather, FR
- WR – Eric McAlister, R-FR
- OL – Roger Carreon, FR
- OL – Cord Kringlen, R-FR
- RB – Taylor Marcum, FR
- TE – Jack Beresford, R-FR
Senior nickel Tyreque Jones had a lower leg injury recently “pop up,” according to Avalos.
“He was able to train all summer, but it’s something that we’re going to take care of," Avalos said.
Jones will be limited for the next week or two, but Avalos said the All-Mountain West honorable mention from 2021 will be ready for the season-opener in Corvallis.
Jones tallied 53 tackles and two interceptions last fall.
The only player on the roster that won’t be ready to compete during fall camp is true freshman offensive lineman Kage Casey, who is dealing with a shoulder injury.
“As we work through the first few weeks of the season, he will get reintroduced to practice," Avalos said.
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