Boise State dives into 2013 with a total of seven running backs on the roster. By the time fall practice comes around, that number could be slightly elevated or decreased depending on spring practice results and unforeseen circumstances that could or could not arise.
Running back is a crucial position for most teams, and head coach Chris Petersen has proven over the years that balance is an effective model.
With the departure of sixth-year senior D.J. Harper, the Broncos not only lose another excellent running back, but they also say goodbye to a seasoned veteran and leader on the team.
Filling the void that Harper leaves behind won't be easy.
The seven players that stand ready to pursue the daunting task of replacing Harper are mostly young, mostly unproven, but they also posses a tremendous amount of talent and potential.
Which of the seven make the grade?
It is a question that will be answered over the next sixth months, but until then, a closer look at the possibilities seems reasonable.
Jamal Hart is a walk-on out of South Hills High School in West Covina, Calif. He redshirted last season.
Hart is a mystery, at least for the most part. He was a good running back in high school, but he does lack some quickness and speed. He is elusive, however, and with some time to develop, he could become a regular contributor.
A look at his highlight film and it is easy to see his potential. It is also a tribute to how far the Boise State program has come if someone as talented as Hart has to walk on.
Spring practice will give an indication of where Hart is at.
Charles Bertoli is a name that Boise State fans could be hearing soon. His game highlights are impressive. He shows a good amount of explosiveness, elusiveness, quickness and overall speed.
In high school, he was named Napa County Player of the Year following his senior season, according to BroncoSports.com. He was also named the Redwood Empire Player of the Year and the North Central League Most Valuable Player.
In his senior campaign, he rushed for 1,214 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also broke eight school records at St. Helena High School in St. Helena, Calif.
Bertoli, a redshirt freshman, has considerable potential, and it will be interesting to see what he does this spring and fall.
Devan Demas is another very talented redshirt freshman running back waiting in the wings.
Demas is a Texas product hailing from Cypress Creek High School in Houston. If that school sounds familiar to Bronco fans, it's because it is the same school that D.J. Harper played his high school football at.
Demas finished his senior season at Cypress Creek with 1,850 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns. He also had 255 yards receiving.
Don't be surprised if Demas is in contention for playing time come this fall. His highlights are very impressive, and if he can translate that to the college game, Boise State fans are going to be very high on this guy.
Watch to see what Demas does in the spring. It will not be surprising if he makes some waves.
Jack Fields came to Boise State riding some high expectations, and once you see his highlights, you realize why.
However, in his first season as a Bronco, things didn't go nearly as good as some had hoped.
In total, as a true freshman Fields only carried the ball 43 times for 135 yards in 2012. It might not be fair to judge his performance with such limited action, but 3.1 yards per carry is not impressive.
Fields will have to do much more this spring to establish his place on the depth chart. That won't be easy with so many talented running backs in camp.
Another year, another huge set of expectations for a true freshman.
Boise State fans seem to be very excited about Aaron Baltazar, and he gives them every reason to be. As a high school senior in Chula Vista, Calif, Baltazar rushed for 1,855 yards and 23 touchdowns, according to BroncoSports.com.
He also won a slew of awards including first-team All-Metro Mesa League and first-team ALL-CIF San Diego.
Baltazar was also a defensive standout, racking up 73 tackles. He has been compared to Doug Martin, who also played solid defense as well as offense.
With the number of talented running backs on the roster, Baltazar could redshirt in 2013. But if he comes to fall camp and lights it up, coaches may have to give him his shot.
Don't be surprised if Aaron Baltazar gets some carries this fall.
Derrick Thomas is a junior college transfer who couldn't have arrived at a better time.
With very little experience currently on the roster, a junior college player fills the Broncos void nicely.
It also helps that Thomas is a very good running back, and at Butler last season, he gained 829 yards and nine touchdowns, according to BroncoSports.com.
It will be surprising if he doesn't contribute right away. In fact, it will be surprising if he doesn't at least give Jay Ajayi a challenge for the starting job.
Look for Derrick Thomas to get a fair number of carries in 2013. They should only increase as the season goes on, and Bronco fans can be excited about the potential Thomas brings to the field.
Jay Ajayi has become a well-known name among the Bronco faithful.
Last season, Ajayi made his presence known with a solid 82 carries for 548 yards. However, the most impressive statistic might have been his 6.7 yards per carry.
Ajayi is a bruising runner who pounds out yardage with the best of them. He is a wrecking ball on the football field, but he also has speed and elusiveness. He has the potential to be the next in the long line of successful running backs at Boise State.
Ajayi is poised to have a breakout year as the starter in 2013. Some might argue he had a breakout year last season, but as good as Ajayi was, fans probably haven't seen anything compared to what's coming.
Jay Ajayi should rattle some cages in 2013.