Boise State Football

Sophomore could crack Boise State’s veteran offensive line

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series previewing the Boise State football team by position. Coming Wednesday: Defensive line.

Sophomore offensive lineman Archie Lewis likes to defy the odds.

He received one scholarship offer out of high school in 2012 — a late offer from the Broncos, who asked him to delay his enrollment until January of 2013.

Two years later, as a redshirt freshman, he started five games for a Fiesta Bowl championship team.

“I just took it as a chance to keep fighting and make something happen,” he said of the Broncos’ offer. “... I’m trying to prove everybody wrong that said I couldn’t do it.”

As well as he played as a freshman, he was back on the outside looking in going into his sophomore year. The Broncos returned their entire offensive line from last season, leading to speculation that the group would remain intact.

Lewis, however, has improved so much that he started at right tackle in the fall scrimmage last week — forcing two of last year’s starters to new positions and a third to the sideline.

The 6-foot-3, 289-pound Lewis has packed on nearly 50 pounds since his playing days at Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High.

“My whole thing was trying to get faster, trying to get stronger, trying to get bigger,” he said. “(Offensive line coach Scott Huff) said the most physical five, or the best five, were going to play. ... I wanted to work harder so I could get my name in that discussion.”

Lewis was a rising prospect even during fall camp last year. An injury sidetracked him and as the sixth man he was forced to work at right guard, right tackle and left tackle.

His five starts came at left tackle (four) in place of injured starter Rees Odhiambo and right tackle (one) in place of injured starter Steven Baggett.

Lewis still plays multiple positions but has settled into the right tackle spot this year.

“He’s battling his butt off,” Huff said. “... Last year he played really good at times and then he’d have some young guy mistakes or bad plays. He’s played much more consistent and that’s really what we were looking for.”

Still, Lewis hasn’t secured a spot on the line. Odhiambo and center Marcus Henry, both senior third-year starters, are locks. But Lewis, Baggett (right tackle last year; right guard in the scrimmage), Mario Yakoo (right guard last year; left guard in the scrimmage) and Travis Averill (left guard last year; backup in the scrimmage) could be placed in a host of different combinations.

Baggett, Yakoo and Averill are juniors who were full-time starters last year and spot starters in 2013.

“We’ve got a really good problem,” Huff said. “... It’s going to be some tough calls here to figure out who’s going to play and what positions — we’ve got some options.”

However they line up, the veteran group should be the foundation of the offense. The best way to ease the transition to a new quarterback (sophomore Ryan Finley) and new tailback (likely a committee led by sophomore Jeremy McNichols) is to give those guys room to work.

The line played a key role in the Broncos’ nine-game winning streak to end last season.

“I feel like we’ve got to be a strength of the offense,” Yakoo said. “The quarterback, running backs, they’ve been doing great. They’ve got big shoes to fill up. But the O-line is going to be the strength of the offense, so we’ve got to be the ones who make sure we have energy.”

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