Rams building a stable of solid running backs
Established names pushed by crop of young talent through preseason
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.