Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
The position of running back for the Broncos has to be exciting for all of Bronco Nation. However, it also has to be a bit of a concern and a mystery.
On the one hand, you have Jay Ajayi.
Ajayi is a redshirt sophomore running back who did some very impressive things last season. In fact, his 82 carries for 548 yards as D.J. Harper's backup was good enough to set a school record for average yards per carry at 6.68.
On the other hand, Ajayi has not had a full season as a starter. He was also playing with a knee brace last season after suffering a serious knee injury in his first year as a Bronco.
He looked to be 100 percent in spring, but the position of running back is extremely demanding on the body. If he's able to stay healthy in 2013, then it could be a season to remember for Ajayi. If the injury bug bites, then there are big question marks as to who would step up.
At backup running back, the Broncos have a very talented veteran player, but his experience is not with the team.
JUCO transfer Derrick Thomas joined the Broncos this spring and looked very good in the spring game. He also looked very good in his first two seasons at Butler CC.
According to BroncoSports.com, as a sophomore Thomas carried the ball 157 times for 829 yards and helped lead his team to a NJCAA National Championship Game. He also had 793 yards on 145 carries his freshman season.
How all of his junior college success translates to the FBS is anyone's guess at this point. But, to be fair, he sure seems to have what it takes. It will be interesting to see how he does as a backup and how he does if he has to add carries late in the season.
Beyond Ajayi and Thomas, the Broncos have guys who may be able to contribute but for whom game-time experience is lacking.
Jack Fields did get some carries for the Broncos in 2012, but he did not impress. Still, he has the talent to be a very good running back. It seems like only a matter of time before he figures things out.
Redshirt freshmen Devan Demas and Charles Bertoli are two others who could contribute, but neither have played a game at the collegiate level.
True freshman Aaron Baltazar will be in camp this fall as well. He is extremely talented, but a redshirt is no doubt in his future.
Overall, the position of running back could be a feast or famine for the Broncos in 2013. There are too many unknowns to call it a strength, but far too many selling points to call it a weakness.
It all adds up to butterflies and expectations for fans, players and coaches alike.