By Chadd Cripe
Boise State’s competition at running back apparently started during winter conditioning.
Senior Ian Johnson, sophomore D.J. Harper and freshman Doug Martin were three of five players to reach the highest level in a new scoring system used by strength coach Tim Socha. Sophomore Jeremy Avery likely would have been close to that level, but he missed the winter testing with an injury.
Johnson, whose run at the Heisman Trophy in 2006 helped attract Martin and Harper to Boise State, led all skill players in all three major lifts — the bench press, back squat and hang clean. He also bulked up to 200 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds.
Harper established a team best with a 4.43-second 40. However, burners Kyle Wilson (cornerback) and Avery did not run because of injuries.
Martin also would have competed with Harper for the fastest 40, but he wasn’t 100 percent on testing day, Socha said.
“They are going to help us tremendously,” coach Chris Petersen said of the running backs, “not only on offense, but on special teams. There’s just a good bunch of athletes there and we’ll figure out a way to get them all on the field.”
The other two players to reach the highest level in Socha’s system: tight end Chris O’Neill and defensive tackle Sean Bingham.
The first day of spring practice Monday was apparently the place to be in Boise. In addition to visits from most media outlets in town, visitors included former Boise State players Daryn Colledge (offensive lineman, Green Bay Packers), Ryan Dinwiddie (quarterback Winnipeg Blue Bombers), Ryan Clady (expected first-round draft pick, offensive lineman) and Orlando Scandrick (NFL prospect at cornerback) and Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith (in town to work out Clady).
Petersen was happy with the effort on the first day of spring ball. He and his coaching staff pushed an increased tempo and Petersen liked the results.
The Broncos practiced in helmets Monday. They won’t put on full pads until Friday, which is when it will become more clear who is making progress and how well the team is adapting to the new tempo.
“Everybody in the country is going to show up in spring ball and have a good first day in terms of effort and attitude,” Petersen said. “The whole trick is to be consistent and persistent every day.”
Petersen opened spring practices to the media with a couple of rules — no injury reports and no detailed practice reports. If those rules are violated, he will close practice again, as he did for the entire 2007 season.
Read more about the first day of practice in Tuesday’s Idaho Statesman. Also, I’ll have a report on the offensive line in Bronco Beat after Tuesday’s practice.