Fall Camp Position Preview: Running Backs
Jeff Choate is in his first season as running backs and special team coach with
When people think
“It’s kind of a misnomer that we are only a passing team,” Choate said. “When we’re recruiting, people say,
Slated to shoulder the load this season at running back is sophomore Ian Johnson. Johnson (5’11, 194-pounds) is a Preseason All-WAC selection by The Sporting News. The
“Ian obviously has some natural gifts that you need to have at that running back position to be good,” Choate said. “He does a great job not only with his running assignments, but also with his pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield...I think the expectations are high and I think he has high expectations for himself.”
Although Johnson is penciled in as the starter, there is a fierce battle going on between he and senior Brett Denton.
“Brett Denton isn’t succeeding anything in that running back race,” Choate said. “I think his goal is to be the guy too...(Head Strength and Conditioning) Coach (Tim) Socha would be the first one to say that Ian and Brett had two of the better summers of anybody on the team.”
“He’s been unbelievable. A lot of people compare his role to that of Jeff Carpenter’s last year,” Choate said. “I think it is going to be like Jeff’s, but its going to be more expanded.”
Junior Jon Helmandollar (5’11, 215-pounds) could also figure into the mix this season. After taking a year off, Choate believes it may take Helmandollar a while to get back to where he was over a year ago, but says that he will still have a role in the offense.
The future at running back also looks bright for the Broncos. Three freshmen, Jeremy Avery, Jarvis Hodge and Stew Tracy, have proven to be pleasant surprises to the coaching staff.
“Jeremy Avery is a little jitter bug with a great attitude; a tough, hard-nosed kid,” Choate said. “Jarvis Hodge is probably, out of the three, the most ready to play right now. Stew
The fullback position has also been very good thus far. Senior Brad Lau (5’11, 242-pounds) started all 13 games for the Broncos last season. Sophomore Michael Lose (5’10, 227-pounds) served as Lau’s backup last season, playing in 10 games.
“Lau has had an excellent camp, probably as good as he’s had since he’s been here,” Choate said. “So were trying to expand his role a little bit.”
Choate believes he has quite a bit of talent at the running back position this season. However, he also believes that there is more to running the ball than having talent in the backfield.
“We have an excellent offensive line and that’s the best situation you could have for a running back,” Choate said. “Well take us as far as this offensive line will carry us.”
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