Boise State football's recent track record of true freshman running backs is pretty strong, and the Broncos very likely could play two of them this fall.
On Wednesday, coach Bryan Harsin said that during summer workouts, which began last week, he has the mindset that incoming freshmen Andrew VanBuren and Danny Smith will play in 2018.
"Just because you never know ... Danny Smith, he's on campus right now, Andrew VanBuren, he looks good," Harsin said.
"Both those guys, they know it, they're coming in with the mindset they're playing. Whether we do remains to be seen, but with the depth at tailback, how that position goes, those guys have to be ready."
Redshirt freshman Drake Beasley left the program in May, and Boise State went into summer with three scholarship running backs: junior Alexander Mattison, sophomore Robert Mahone and senior Skyler Seibold. Seibold moved from safety this spring.
Smith and VanBuren are both big, strong backs out of California. Smith (6-foot, 210 pounds), from Oxnard, moved from Arkansas last year and rushed for 1,610 yards and 20 touchdowns in nine games as a senior, adding nine receptions for 180 yards. VanBuren (6-1, 215), from West Hills, ran for 1,259 yards and 21 touchdowns last fall. He will enroll next month.
Backs who have played as true freshmen under Harsin have panned out well for Boise State — Jeremy McNichols in 2014 and Mattison in 2016 played right away and had 1,000-yard seasons as sophomores.
Lashley a key pickup
Harsin spoke a bit Wednesday about Idaho linebacker Tony Lashley, who signed as a graduate transfer May 1. He said Lashley will compete to replace Leighton Vander Esch at weakside linebacker, but can also play in the middle.
"I think he's a good fit ... the production part of it, that showed up," Harsin said. "Can he come in here and help us get better as a team? We think he can do that.
"He's been a great addition, there's some maturity he brings."
Lashley had 230 tackles combined the past two seasons for the Vandals and was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection last season as a junior. Lashley is married and has four children, two of them stepchildren.
A fan of proposed redshirt rule
The NCAA's Division I Council is expected to consider a big shift in how teams may utilize their rosters when it meets June 12-13. A proposed rule, backed by the American Football Coaches Association, would allow schools to play true freshmen in up to four games without burning a redshirt.
Harsin has previously expressed support for it, saying that players tend to do better in school and on the field when they know they'll be involved. He was surprised the rule change was tabled at an NCAA meeting in April.
"I hope they pass it. That would be one of the best things they've ever done, in my opinion," Harsin said.
Summer starts, meets real life
With summer workouts started, Harsin said the team is getting back into the groove with foundational focuses such as lifting, running and nutrition. He said some new players whose school year ended in May were able to enroll, which did not happen last year. The rest will join July 5. Harsin added there are no major injuries being dealt with right now.
Wednesday also was this year's debut of "Real Life Wednesdays" in which community business leaders speak to the team. Former Broncos Richie Brockel and Sam McCaskill were the first. Brockel, who spent five seasons with the Carolina Panthers, works as an accountant and spoke about the importance of investing, while McCaskill, working in commercial real estate, stressed networking inside and outside athletics.
Broncos' Rypien on Steele cover
For many college football fans, the arrival of Phil Steele's annual preview is akin to Steve Martin's character in "The Jerk," screaming in excitement about the phone book's delivery. Boise State fans will be a little more excited to know that senior quarterback Brett Rypien will be on one of Steele's regional covers. Steele recently tweeted that the official sale date is June 26, but some could hit newsstands June 19.