Seven inches of height and 70 pounds of weight separate them. One grew up less than 50 miles from Boise State, the other about 1,500 miles away.
It may not seem like Alec Dhaenens and Devan Demas have much in common, but both have one very similar quest this season: Now veteran Broncos, both have the opportunity to step into larger roles and show a different side of their game.
ALEC DHAENENS, JR., TE
Dhaenens has played in 27 games the past two seasons, serving as a blocking specialist. The Fruitland High graduate likely will be utilized more in 2016 after three tight ends who made receptions last year are gone.
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“He’s just gotten more consistent, better job of understanding the whole offense,” tight ends coach Kent Riddle said. “... I expect him to have a really great year for us.”
In his career, Dhaenens has four receptions for 26 yards, a long of 18. Three of those catches have gone for touchdowns.
“Anything they need me to do, I will,” Dhaenens said. “But I’m excited to try and catch some of those longer passes, not just the 2-yard ones. But if they go for touchdowns, you can’t really complain.”
His junior year of high school, Dhaenens had 20 catches for 452 yards and six touchdowns. In an injury-shortened senior season, he had three catches, then redshirted his first season at Boise State. Seven catches in the past four falls has him eager to hone those receiving skills.
“Definitely focusing on getting better there. Each guy has their strength, but if we can be equally good at every aspect, we can use a bunch of us, make it really hard on defenses,” Dhaenens said.
DEVAN DEMAS, SR., RB
The 5-foot-8, 174-pound Houston native has 75 carries for 469 yards in his career, scoring five touchdowns. That’s a sparkling 6.3 yards per carry average. Many of those carries, however have come with the game in hand. Demas, though not to be confused for a bruising back, has looked notably stronger in fall camp.
“Oh yeah,” Demas said. “... trying to put on as many pounds as possible. I can run through somebody now.”
Demas has thus far been the Broncos’ No. 2 back behind workhorse junior Jeremy McNichols, trying to fill a void left by Kelsey Young’s graduation after his 511-yard, eight-touchdown season. Demas certainly could be an interesting change-of-pace back, but he’s trying to prove he’s not just a home-run hitter.
“I’m hoping I can handle that workload,” Demas said. “But I’ll take (the long run) anytime.”
This fall, Demas also has some extra motivation. He had 29 carries the first seven games last season. But after a bad fumble in the Broncos’ 52-26 loss at Utah State, had none in the last six games.
“I think about that every day,” Demas said. “I use that as motivation to keep getting better and not to go back to that.”