What’s left? Running backs
• Who’s gone? Just some guy named Jay Ajayi. In a strong year nationally for running backs, Ajayi somehow flew under the radar for much of the season compared to the vaunted stable of Big Ten backs. Nonetheless, he put up 2225 yards from scrimmage (second in the country) and 29 touchdowns (tied for first). Ajayi could have come back for another year, but with his physical running style and the short shelf life of NFL runners, it made sound sense for him to leave early.
• Who’s back? Several players who saw playing time in 2014 will be back next season, but at first glance, there doesn’t appear to be a feature back in the bunch, at least not nearly to the level Ajayi was. Devan Demas and Jeremy McNichols each showed moments of explosiveness in relief of Ajayi, but neither likely has the size to be an every down back. Charles Bertoli and Jack Fields were non-factors in their limited playing time. Cory Young was a well-regarded 2014 recruit who redshirted in his first season on campus.
• Who’s coming? Raymond Sheard, from Texas just like Ajayi, is the team’s only running back commit thus far. He has the frame to grow into a big, physical runner, but at the same time has been lightly recruited by other teams. The staff clearly believe him worth taking a flyer on, but he’s unlikely to make an immediate impact.
• Who else? With limited spots left, it’s unlikely that the Broncos take a second running back in the 2015 class, though not impossible. Most of the other backs the Broncos have been at least somewhat linked to in this class are similar to the smaller the backs the team already has. A possible name to look out for might be Sheldon Croney out of Bakersfield, Calif. He would fit the larger running back mold that the Broncos seem to need, and they are listed among his leaders. His recruitment has gone oddly silent in recent weeks, though, and his offer came from the previous Boise State staff. Sheard appears to be Bryan Harsin and Co.’s guy.
• What to expect? A committee, for better or worse. Demas and McNichols will both get their fair share of carries while Young could be in the mix too. By now, coaches probably know what they can get out of Bertoli and Fields, but may have to use them out of necessity. Sheard will have to make a big impact in fall camp if he doesn’t want to redshirt. In a perfect world, McNichols might move back to wide receiver as was originally planned when he was recruited. That would require significant jumps from several of the other runners, though. The opposite end of the spectrum may be more likely, with McNichols, an undeniable talent on offense, stepping up into a near-feature back role despite his slight frame.