Former Eagle High standout D.J. Dean already has had surgery on one knee and two hips during his Boise State football career — injuries that have prevented him from showing everyone else the talent that coaches and teammates often mention.
“This has been a really great experience so far,” Dean said Friday. “Although I haven’t been able to play as much as I’d like and all that and yeah, I’ve done some things on the practice field and not been able to prove it ... overall my experience has been great.”
Dean, a redshirt sophomore who also grayshirted, is in his fourth year post-high school. He played in four games last season, mostly on special teams, before he needed surgery to repair torn labrums in both hips. The injuries were an ongoing issue and were corrected six weeks apart, he said.
He missed spring ball but was among the players who earned praise for his performance in summer conditioning and player-run practices.
“He understands what all the receivers are doing in the offense, which makes him more valuable to this offense,” wide receivers coach Junior Adams said.
Dean is locked in a crowded battle for playing time among the second wave of receivers on the Broncos’ roster, behind the three starters.
“It’s been awesome to be able to get out there with my teammates and have fun,” he said. “That’s kind of been my thing — having fun — since I’ve had some different things go on. Have fun, work as hard as I possibly can, have a good attitude and get out there and see what I can do.”
News and notes
• Tight end Nick Crabtree of Huntington Beach (Calif.) High committed to Boise State on Friday for the class of 2016. He’s 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds. “It was the offer I was waiting for,” Crabtree said. “... Since I was young, it’s a place I’ve been interested in. Great coaches, great tradition, great town. It checked off every box.”
Player spotlight:Ben Weaver
Weaver, a junior, hopes to continue the momentum he built late last season.
Weaver underwent surgery to repair a high ankle sprain last year and didn’t return to the field until fall camp. It took him most of the season to get back into football shape.
This year, he was able to train for months to improve his strength, speed and athleticism before camp.
“Unbelievable difference,” he said. “My body feels so much better. Last year, not getting back until this time, going into the season I felt a little sluggish.”
Weaver led the team in tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2013 with 89. His production plummeted as a sophomore until he recorded 16 tackles in the Mountain West championship game and eight more in the Fiesta Bowl. Those 24 tackles accounted for more than one-third of his season total of 62.
“It kind of made me feel like I was back to my redshirt freshman year again,” he said. “My body was back to where it was after all those games. Hopefully I can take off from those last few games and start off hot like that.”
Broncos in the NFL:RB Doug Martin
Former Boise State tailback Doug Martin has been “one of the stars of training camp” with Tampa Bay, according to ESPN.com.
Martin was one of the best stories in the NFL as a rookie in 2012, when he rushed for 1,454 yards and added 472 receiving yards. But he has been limited to 950 rushing yards and 25 receiving yards in the two years since while dealing with an array of injuries.
He said he feels the best he has since his rookie year going into Saturday’s preseason opener at the Vikings.
“We would just like for him to continue what he’s been doing,” Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith told ESPN.com. “We’ve all taken notice. It seems like he has a little more bounce to his step, running with confidence. And he needs to. It’s an important year for Doug and for our football team to establish the run game, and Doug’s our starting tailback. We talk about the commitment to the run. He’s done it before. There’s no reason he can’t do it again.”
Martin, who starred on the 2010 and 2011 Boise State football teams that were in the national championship conversation, told ESPN.com he’s optimistic about this year. The Bucs declined his option for 2016, so it’s a contract year.
“The sky is the limit,” Martin said. “We have a lot of potential going into this year with this team. We have a lot of weapons and a lot of guys with fire in them that want to be successful. I just can’t wait to get out there with them.”