By Chadd Cripe
Boise State sophomore Doug Martin will play defense during spring football in an attempt to replace All-WAC nickelback Ellis Powers.
Martin, recruited as a tailback, played a few snaps on defense last season. He also was a special-teams standout and contributor in the Broncos’ tailback rotation.
The move isn’t necessarily permanent. The spring is a trial.
“We’ll see how it goes,” coach Chris Petersen said Tuesday. “We like him a lot as a running back. We just like Doug a lot period. We just want to figure out how to maximize his talents.”
Martin, junior safety Jason Robinson and junior-college transfer Winston Venable are the top contenders to replace Powers, who turned nickelback into a staple of the Broncos’ defense last season. Powers racked up 78 tackles, two fumble returns for touchdowns, a forced fumble, an interception and eight tackles for loss last season.
Martin had 11 tackles, 107 rushing yards, 54 receiving yards and a 22.3-yard average on kickoff returns. He was the 2007 Offensive Scout Player of the Year.
“He’s probably the most explosive athlete on our team,” defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said.
If Martin moves permanently, that also would help clear up a logjam at tailback. Juniors Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper return and they will be joined by promising redshirt freshman Matt Kaiserman.
“We’re anxious to get that running back position a little more streamlined and not have so many guys in the mix there so whoever emerges, we can get those guys in a rhythm a little more,” Petersen said.
Also, sophomore Dan Paul has moved to offense full time. He is a fullback but was recruited as a linebacker. And sophomore Chuck Hayes, who played defensive line last year, has moved to offensive guard. He practiced with the offense much of last season but still played on defense.
Spring football begins Monday. The Broncos will scrimmage March 19 (2:30 p.m.), April 8 (2:30 p.m.) and April 17 (6 p.m.).