Sophomore Jeremy McNichols and junior Chanceller James have earned starting jobs at two of the premier positions on the Boise State football team, coach Bryan Harsin announced Sunday.
McNichols, a tailback, and James, a nickel, top the depth chart for the Broncos’ season opener Friday against Washington at Albertsons Stadium (8:15 p.m., ESPN).
McNichols will share time with senior Stanford transfer Kelsey Young and junior Devan Demas, Harsin said.
James also will share time, with senior Mercy Maston.
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McNichols (5-foot-9, 205 pounds) and James (6-2, 216) became important playmakers for the Broncos during the second half of last season.
“(James) made plays,” defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said of what set James apart. “He’s a smart kid. He loves the game. He watches film. ... He looks good out there, also.”
Other notes from the Broncos’ first depth chart of the season:
• Sophomore Archie Lewis won a starting job at right tackle. That pushed Steven Baggett from tackle to guard, Mario Yakoo from right guard to left guard and forced returning starter Travis Averill out of the lineup. Harsin wouldn’t commit to a starting center even though senior two-year starter Marcus Henry says he is “100 percent” after missing some time at the beginning of fall camp. The reason: sophomore Mason Hampton played so well in camp that Harsin wants to give him a chance to win the job this week in practice. “Competition is always good,” Henry said. “It’s always good to have a chip on your shoulder.”
• True freshman Tyler Horton is a backup cornerback and will play this season. Wide receiver Akilian Butler, quarterback Brett Rypien and cornerback Darreon Jackson also have a chance to play this season, Harsin said.
• The backup wide receivers include sophomores D.J. Dean and Austin Cottrell, senior Terrell Johnson, redshirt freshman A.J. Richardson and Butler. Junior Rick Smith, the Arizona State transfer, wasn’t listed.
WILL RYPIEN PLAY?
The Broncos listed their other three scholarship quarterbacks as co-backups behind Ryan Finley: sophomore Tommy Stuart, redshirt freshman Alex Ogle and Rypien.
The Broncos will enter the season with the idea that Rypien will play, Harsin said. If he doesn’t play for a while, then coaches will discuss whether to redshirt him.
“As we go through this week, if he’s prepared to play, he’s prepared to play and we’re going to play him,” Harsin said. “Right now those decisions are too difficult to make. You’re playing to be successful and try to win the game. ... We’ll do what’s best for him and for this football team.”
Offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz must juggle evaluating the backups and making sure one of them is ready to play.
“That’s the benefit of having these two weeks,” Drinkwitz said. “We were able to split the reps up. We have to make sure they are prepared and answering questions in the meetings and doing the extra film study they need to do.”
HENRY, THOMPSON ARE CAPTAINS
Henry and senior safety Darian Thompson were voted captains by their teammates.
“It meant the world,” Henry said. “That’s such an honor to get voted that by my teammates.”
Said Thompson: “Being voted a captain is definitely an honor. It lets me know the guys on the team have faith in me.”
The Broncos will wear their all-blue uniforms. ... Harsin said “right now” no players are unavailable for the game. ... The Broncos have won 19 straight non-conference home games and 14 straight home games overall. ... The Broncos’ nine-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak behind Ohio State’s (13). ... The Broncos’ six non-Saturday games ties the school record set in 2007 and matched in 2009. ... Boise State is 12-0 at home on Fridays. ... The Broncos carry their red-zone scoring streak into 2015: 47 straight trips with points, including 38 touchdowns. ... At 38, Harsin is the fifth-youngest FBS coach this season. ... Boise State is 7-3 vs. the Pac-12 since 2006, but 1-2 against Washington.