As Boise State has developed a national reputation in recent years, quarterbacks Bart Hendricks and Ryan Dinwiddie helped the Broncos become famous for their aerial attack, piling up astounding numbers through the air as the prolific Boise State offense led the nation 3 of the last 4 years. Imagine the surprise, then, when the Boise State running game showed up among the Top 15 in the country last year. The Broncos featured an entire stable of talented backs last year, most of whom return this fall. Balance, size and speed are all crucial to competing with the nation's elite and at running back, the Boise State coaches feel they have the horses to give them each one of those characteristics.
Lee Marks (5-7,179, Sr..) broke away from a running back by committee system to pace the Broncos in rushing with 968 yards. Marks averaged a sparkling 5.1 yards per carry. Lee went over the century mark in three of those games, including a sterling 140-yard effort in a tight game against San Jose State. Marks has a shifty style and with his speed, he's usually by the line before they can see him. Always dependable Jeff Carpenter (5-9, 202) will look to have a stellar Senior season as the Kuna High School product has always provided excitement. He ran for 286 yards, 2 touchdowns and sported a fine 4.6 yards per carry average of his own, not to mention a perfect 3 for 3 throwing the ball with 2 of those going for touchdowns! Carpenter is the kind of guy that will always give you extra effort; he gains a good percentage of his yards after the initial hit. Sophomore Jon Helmandollar (5-11,218, So.) was superb in short yardage situations last season. Helmandollar totaled 231 yards and an amazing 14 touchdowns, or 1 for every 3 carries! All Jon did his first year at Boise State was set the all-time record for touchdowns in a game (5) vs. Louisiana Tech.
Antwaun Carter (5-9, 210, Sr.) is another bowling ball-type runner for the Broncos, but Carter also has blazing speed to go along with his size and speed. Carter rang up 278 yards on the ground and 7 touchdowns, or 1 score for every 10 times he touched the ball. Brett Denton (5-9, 203, Jr.) had a 9.2 yards per carry average, and if he's ever going to press for playing time, it will be in 2005. Add in redshirt Freshmen Ian Johnson (5-11, 190) and David Shields (6-2, 205) and you have the deepest group of running backs in Boise State history. Johnson has garnered a lot of speculation about his potential playing time as he has been superb during the Fall practices. Possessing great strength and speed, his most valuable asset just might be his agility, where he has the 'swivel' to make defenders miss and is said to be able to never take a hit straight on like former Bronco great and current Miami Dolphin Brock Forsey. Shields, on the other hand, is an enigma, injured for much of the Fall, everyone here at BroncoCountry is really looking forward to seeing the Missouri phenom in action. Shields has been battling injuries since very early in his Senior season, but his combination of speed, size, and strength were too attractive for Bronco coaches to pass up. This spring will hopefully give Bronco fans a peek into the future at the position with both Johnson and Shields providing the fireworks.
What will be amazing about this position in 2005 is that of the 2,758 yards rushing and 49 rushing touchdowns for Boise State last season, returning players accumulated 2,628 of those yards and 46 of those touchdowns! The challenge won't be finding a running back, but rather finding ways to get each of them the ball. Coach Hawkins and Coach Petersen excel in that area.
One name obviously missing from the stable of Running Backs is Sophomore Calvin McCarty. Calvin joined the squad out of Canada with great stats and a tremendous future, however with the depth at RB, he never worked into a regular playing rotation and has decided to leave for greener pastures. He did score 1 TD last season against Fresno, and should be very successful wherever he ends up. BroncoCountry wishes nothing but success to Calvin as he moves on, and hopes that wherever he ends up he makes a name for himself. We'll all be following Calvin's career with interest.
The loss of McCarty does usher in a couple of new faces to the position this year. New to the squad are a couple of walk-ons with the kind of speed and moves to make defenders sweat, Kevin Slaughter and Jared Duren. Both are RB's in the Lee Marks Mold. Both 5'7-5'8ish, but more importantly, both faster than a Vandal Cheerleader running to a buffet.
Jared Duren, (also listed as Jaren Duran), is a true speedster who has a 10.8 100 meters to his name, and was named to the CaliSports hot 100 as a RB, along with fellow Bronco Ian Johnson. Duren was also named 2002-03 All-Division III 1st Team RB as a Junior. His senior season, Duren had mind-blowing stats despite limited action. He rushed only 60 times, but had over 670 yards, (674), good for an average of 11.2 ypc. He scored 5 TD's on the season and averaged 74.9 ypg on an average of just over 6 carries per game. He also caught 15 passes for 273 yards, (18.2 ypc), and averaged 30 yards per game through the air. Duren also split time at DB, and had 23 total tackles and 3 INT's. For the season he was 3rd in Rushing and 2nd in Receiving for the San Gabriel Valley League, also leading his team in both, despite the limited touches. Duren is also a brother of new Bronco Commit Jeremy Childs, and was instrumental in helping the Broncos land the California top-3 ranked, and CBS Sportsline.com All-American WR, who could be the most honored recruit ever to sign at Boise State. Duren also was a HS teammate of Bronco Safety Ellis Powers at Lynwood High School, which went 10-1-1 their Senior campaign. Duren joined the Broncos at semester break and is expected to greyshirt, meaning he will redshirt next season despite participating in the Spring Practices.
Kevin Slaughter had a sensational Senior Season at Murrieta Valley High School, . He rushed for 1484 yards in only 10 games, good for a 148.4 yard average. Slaughter joined the Broncos last fall as a walk-on redshirt and will be available for spot duty this season if he is able to work into the rotation. He had 3 200+ yard games, with 278 yards in a 35-41 loss to Canyon Springs. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry, had 13 receptions for 142 yards, and scored 17 TD's on the season, which is quite remarkable when you consider he was literally his team's only scoring threat. The NightHawks ended the season 4-6 and 1-3 in their conference, but Slaughter's season was enough to garner 1st Team all SouthWestern League recognition as he led the Inland Empire SouthWestern League in rushing. Actually averaged 2 yards per game more than much heralded Bronco recruit Ian Johnson, although that may be misleading as they played in different classifications. Slaughter was a mainstay in the Murrieta backfield for 3 seasons, and was the focal point of their attack both his Senior and Junior seasons. As a Sophomore he ran for over 100 yards on more than 1 occasion in a backup capacity.
At Fullback, Brad Lau (5-11, 255, Jr.) improved with each game last season and returns at fullback for Chris Peterson's offense. Barring another finger vs. food-processor competition, Lau should once again be a mainstay in the Bronco backfield. Lau had 55 yards and 2 touchdowns in '04, and boasts the team's best bench press. Talented Redshirt Sophomore Michael Lose (5-10, 228) provides backup.
You look at the personnel in the backfield and know that nearly any one of them could rush for over 1,000 yards. The size, the speed, the effort, the versatility--it's all there for Boise State this fall. Is it possible to improve upon 2,768 rushing yards and 49 rushing touchdowns? With this group, the answer is "absolutely".