2 Minute Drill with Jayson Bird

When the Vandals take the field in just over a week in East Lansing against Michigan State of the Big Ten, the starting runningback will be Idaho's own JAYSON BIRD. A redshirt sophomore out of Shelley (Ida.), Bird burst onto the scene as a true freshman and finished with 850 yards rushing. He's back from a season ending injury that ended his '05 season in the second game, and is ready to go.

Jayson Bird was one of the first three recruits to verbally commit to Nick Holt in 2004, Holt's first year at Idaho. A high school senior with exceptional speed for a 6-0, 215 pound runningback (clocked a 4.44 - 40 at the BYU NIKE Camp his senior year), Bird was actually considered the #5 fullback in the West by Superprep.com and the #54 prospect in the northwest by Scout.com. As a senior he was named the Idaho Class 3A Player of the Year, a 1st Team All-State selection at runningback, and a second team All-State selection at punter

A classic all-around star at Shelley High School in sourthern Idaho, he was among the top 10 wrestlers in Idaho throughout his high school career, and was a Class 3A 100 meter sprint champion. He also carried a 4.0 GPA.

He had offers from Utah State, Montana, and Idaho State but chose to play for Idaho and former Vandal star Joel Thomas, his position coach his first two years in Moscow.

He hasn't slowed down since.

Bird has been a key member of the Idaho offense since his true freshman year, and will start against Michigan State.
As a true freshman Bird won the starting job by the third game of the 2004 season. Despite missing the last 2 games that year (at North Texas and at Hawaii) with an injury, he finished with 859 yards rushing on the season, had three games of 100 or more yards, and ran for a career high 171 yards on 25 carries against Arkansas State. He was named a 2nd Team All-Sun Belt selection as a true freshman.

Last fall he sustained a season ending injury on the second play of the second game of the season at UNLV. He earned compliments from Washington State defensive end Mkristo Bruce as a "hard" runner following Idaho's season opening loss to the Cougs, but would have to hang up the cleats early. He was able to redshirt the season, however, and comes into this fall a reshirt sophomore.

This offseason Idaho recruiters put a premium on bringing in runningbacks, and signed a class that includes a JC Gridwire All-American (Brian Flowers) and USA Today Top Ten high school prospect (Andre Harris), among a host of other recruits and redshirts. The competition for playing time this fall will be much stiffer (in addition to the newcomers, junior Rolly Lumbala has rushed for over 1000 yards in his career at Idaho and sophomore Tracy Ford offers exceptional speed), which should allow the number of carries per game to be spread around a little more.

Larry Johnson caught up with Jayson Bird last week to get his thoughts on the upcoming season and his expectations for himself this fall.

LJ: This looks to be the deepest running back rotation at Idaho in many years. Describe your expectations for yourself, the running back unit, and the offense in general this fall.

JB: Our expectations are to be able to run the ball well, as well as pass the ball well. But I think with the type of spread offense that we're going to run that it'll open up the running game more. Likewise, when we're running the ball well then it'll open up the passing game. I think the running game and passing game compliment each other in this offense.

LJ: You missed last season with an injury. What did it change in your game, if anything, after sitting back and watching from the sidelines for the first time in your playing career.

JB: The biggest thing is that I'm just thankful to be out here. I think that motivates me, you know, to try to work a little harder and give a little more effort, because you never know when your last snap will be. I think having an injury like that makes you realize what you need to focus on.

LJ: How will your running back roll change in Erickson's new offense, and what does this mean for you? Do you think this new scheme better suits your running style and power running game?

JB: Well, I think I can fit into it well. It's a little more spread out. You don't see as many two tight end formations, as far as the power running game is concerned. We'll get a fullback when we need it, but I think as far as this offense goes, yeah it's good for me. I think I like the style of it...I like the blocking schemes, and I think it'll work well.

LJ: You were one of the first recruits to sign with Idaho in 2004, Nick Holt's first season. What were some of the reasons why you picked Idaho?

JB: Well, basically it came down to Idaho, and Utah State wanted to grey shirt me, and I had some division I-AA offers, and I decided to go with Idaho. I came up here on my trip and I really liked it. I was excited about Idaho, and it gave me a chance to play some division I-A football.

LJ: Very good. Thank you very much.

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