BOISE, Idaho — Fall camp kicked off Wednesday for Boise State football, with plenty of eyes on the Broncos backfield following the addition of Utah State transfer Elelyon Noa, but also because of the feature running back leading the way.
Junior George Holani is undoubtably one of the names to watch this year for the Broncos. The California native has positioned himself among the Mountain West Conference elites, despite battling injuries over the last two years.
In only nine games in 2021, Holani managed to rumble for a team-high 569 yards. This year, the hype is real for the 5-11, 208-pound back, if he is able to stay healthy.
Holani is a candidate for both the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back, and the Maxwell Award, which recognizes the best all-around player in college football.
On Wednesday, Holani addressed the obvious in the first minute of his post-practice interview, saying staying healthy for what could be a monster 2022 season is "definitely key."
“I think that the coaching staff is doing a great job, just of getting me in the trainer’s room and keeping me on a maintenance plan and making sure I get in there early and get the body warmed up," Holani said. "The more sore I am, the more I gotta move and continue to work on my body and especially with the diet and stuff, just continuing to eat good and eat healthy. I feel great, honestly. Just moving out there from individual drills to team periods, I feel good out there."
The Broncos' feature back rushed for more than 100 yards in three-straight games towards the end of 2021. In Boise State's dominating road win at then No. 25 Fresno State, Holani rushed for 117 yards on 21 carries and tacked on 2 catches for 69 yards.
During Mountain West Media Days, Boise State head coach Andy Avalos said Holani was "running over defenders with some violence" in practices towards the end of the 2021 season.
Following Wednesday's practice, Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier said Holani's presence makes all the difference for the Broncos' offense when he's at full strength.
“You guys see what George does, I mean, I say that every single time you guys ask me that question. He’s unbelievable, he’s special and it just brings a different dynamic to the offense. He’s special," Bachmeier said. "The best way I can explain it is, say you hand the ball off, there’s three d-linemen in the way and it should be a loss of 4 [yards] – somehow he gets a yard and it’s just ridiculous how he does that."
According to Boise State running backs coach Keith Bhonapha, a man who has mentored quite a few NFL running backs, Holani may have the tools to play on Sundays.
“It goes back to the mindset, how he attacks each day. He’s humble, he’s hungry, he’s going to come out to that practice - whether it’s individual, whether it’s a walkthrough or team period - he’s going to be locked in and give you everything he has," Bhonapha said. "I think a guy that can do that over the course of time consistently, which he shows that he can, is going to be special and can play at that next level.”
Even with the praise rolling in from teammates, coaches and college football watch lists, Holani mirrored Bhonapha's comments on his humbleness and work ethic.
“I mean, I think I just have to stay humble and trust the coaches, whatever they have for me," Holani said. "For me, just giving it all I got when I get an opportunity to go out there, take those reps – whatever reps it is – I’m ready to take 'em."
Wednesday's full interview with Holani is included at the top of this article and below:
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