Rams build­ing a sta­ble of solid run­ning backs

Es­tab­lished names pushed by crop of young tal­ent through pre­sea­son

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Bro­hard Love­land Re­porter-her­ald

FORT COLLINS» Mike Bobo has a sense of hu­mor, and a cou­ple of times in the past week, the Colorado State foot­ball coach has taken the time to amuse him­self, proud of the phrase he first ut­tered af­ter the open­ing scrim­mage — “Bod­die has changed his body.”

A nice lit­tle play on words — Bobo even cracked a bit of a smile and al­lowed for a pause to let the mo­ment sink in the first time — in ref­er­ence to Rashaad Bod­die, the red­shirt fresh­man run­ning back who has earned high praise in camp. The 6-foot, 225-pounder has im­pressed with a bruis­ing na­ture and a hint of giddy-up as he’s kept on the pounds, but re­placed them with leaner mus­cle mass.

The more he’s talked about Bod­die, the in­ter­est in the pos­si­bil­i­ties has amped up a tad. He’s also taken the time to high­light the play of true fresh­man Mar­cus Mcel­roy at a po­si­tion the Rams seemed pretty set, adding to the in­trigue of what is re­ally play­ing out in the CSU back­field. Thurs­day, he said the best guy is go­ing to play, and darn it, that could mean Bod­die.

Boom. Then he set the record straight.

“I’ve been brag­ging a lot about Rashaad Bod­die and Mar­cus Mcel­roy early in camp, but Da­lyn Dawkins, he’s the stan­dard of how guys work and how to prac­tice,” Bobo said. “He’s had a great fall camp, and re­ally Izzy (Matthews’) picked it up this week. We chal­lenged Izzy this week, and he’s done a nice job, but the best guy is go­ing to play. I owe that to Rashaad, I owe that to this whole team, I owe that to ev­ery­body who sup­ports Colorado State.”

As a coach, there was def­i­nitely truth to what he’s been say­ing about the young backs, and there may have been a mes­sage to the oth­ers. Matthews didn’t need it, tak­ing full re­spon­si­bil­ity for what he said had not been a good camp, and while it both­ered him he wasn’t liv­ing up to the coach’s ex­pec­ta­tions, it miffed him more he wasn’t meet­ing his own.

A bit of a chal­lenge didn’t hurt, ei­ther.

“I feel like I’ve just been strug­gling,” the ju­nior said. “See­ing Bod­die out there, the touches he’s get­ting and what he’s do­ing with them, it’s mirac­u­lous. Peo­ple are call­ing him The Horse, and it’s like now I have to up my stan­dard and reach that at the same time.”

Dawkins is still the lead back, a player Bobo has pro­fessed a true ad­mi­ra­tion for since his ar­rival for the work ethic he puts on dis­play daily. En­ter­ing his se­nior year, he’s led the team in rush­ing the past two sea­son, reach­ing 915 yards in 2016. Matthews has been right be­hind him, rush­ing for 734 a year ago and a team-lead­ing 13 touch­down on the ground.

Even with those two, the Rams had room for a third back last year, and the game-break­ing speed of Marvin Kin­sey Jr., was a real com­ple­ment as he rushed for 546 and led the trio with an av­er­age of 5.9 yards per carry. Yet he is likely to be held out of the early stages of the year as he comes back from ACL surgery, and Bobo is one who likes to have fresh backs. The fact none of them have been a 1,000yard rusher is ac­tu­ally mute when the team av­er­aged 217.9 yards per game over the cam­paign.

So, at least early, there is room for an­other back to step into the fold.

A new Bod­die, so to speak. “He’s changed the way he looks. He’s run­ning faster, he’s run­ning with bet­ter pad level,” said Bobo, adding there was con­sid­er­a­tion given to play­ing him last year. “He was kind of an up­right run­ner when he got here, and quite frankly, played al­most a full­back-type guy from his high school. Play­ing tail­back, play­ing in the I, play­ing in the shot­gun, where learn­ing the steps was a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent for him. You could tell he had phys­i­cal strength and was go­ing to be hard to tackle, but he’s done a great job of buy­ing into what we’re do­ing.”

Run­ning back Rashaad Bod­die is mak­ing a name for him­self in camp. Mike Bobo likes to spread car­ries around the back­field and Bod­die may be a leader for the third back role.

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