BOISE – Aaron Baltazar felt unwanted in Seattle, shrugged off like a rainy day, the rote of another Starbucks grand opening.
Today the true freshman running back for Boise State could have a chance to show the Emerald City and University of Washington what they missed out on.
Rated a four-star recruit by ESPN.com (three stars by Scout.com), Baltazar originally committed to Washington out of Eastlake High in Chula Vista, Calif.
But on his second visit to Seattle, according to an article published last September in U-T San Diego, Baltazar said, “I didn’t feel wanted.”
Conversely, Baltazar told the paper, “When I went up to Boise, I was like a rock star there.”
Boise State football’s media policy prohibits interviews with true freshmen, so Baltazar is unavailable for comment this season. But when BSU released its official depth chart on Monday, Baltazar was listed alongside sophomore Jack Fields as co-backup running back, behind starter Jay Ajayi.
“He’s natural and he’s very calm. Things don’t rattle him, and he’s pretty good on top of that,” said coach Chris Petersen.
With minimal experience returning at tailback this season (Ajayi and Fields combined for just 26 percent of the team’s carries in 2012), Baltazar seized the opportunity to shine in fall camp.
The product of a U.S. Marine father and former amateur kickboxer mother, Baltazar has shown discipline and motivation since stepping on campus.
“He was a heck of a player out of high school and he hasn’t missed a beat since he’s been here,” said Petersen.
Baltazar bulked up from 190 pounds in high school to his current 215. He won the newcomers' conditioning test by about 40 yards. In the public scrimmage on Aug. 18 (in which no single tailback logged more than six carries), Baltazar rushed for 36 yards on four carries, including a 13-yard burst, and caught one pass for six yards.
“I like him a lot,” said senior quarterback Joe Southwick. “He kind of has a nice little presence about him, that we can rely on him, which is a little different for a true freshman.
“I’m not saying he’s cocky… You just get a feeling that he understands the offense good enough that we can trust to put him out there. At the same time he kind of has that, ‘I’ll do my job; I’ll do my one-eleventh of this play.’
“On top of that,” Southwick continued, “he’s a heck of a runner. He’s a very talented, athletic guy and I’m excited to see him maybe get some playing time.”
The 19th- ranked Broncos will need all their backs — Ajayi, Fields, Baltazar, and junior college transfer Derrick Thomas, and maybe more than those four — to produce this season, especially in the season opener at Washington. In last year’s MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, the Huskies held BSU to 109 yards rushing, about 60 yards shy of its season average.
No matter how many touches he gets in his collegiate debut, it will just be the beginning of a promising future in Boise, where Baltazar could truly become a rock star.