Boise State Football: 5 Players to Watch in Broncos' Spring Game
At 5 p.m. Saturday, April 12, the new look, new coached Boise State Broncos are hoping to break a spring scrimmage attendance record. Coach Bryan Harsin has been actively campaigning for a crowd of at least 20,000 to take over Bronco Stadium for the annual blue and orange spring game.
If that were to happen, it would be a tremendous accomplishment. However, even if the number was to fall a bit short, it should still be an exciting day on The Blue.
Boise State is in the process of installing a brand new offense and defense this spring, and although scaled down, this will be the first time the public will get a look at the progress.
In the midst of this transition, there are some key position battles brewing, and some new talent trying to impress. The spring game gives some of the key players a platform to show coaches and fans alike what they can do.
Let's look at five of the players who will be doing all they can to make waves on The Blue this Saturday.
Ryan Finley, QB
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Finley has surprised many this spring. After having surgery last season, Finley seems to be further along than anyone thought he would be at this time.
Finley has been throwing well despite the fact he isn't 100 percent, and in a recent article in the Idaho Press-Tribune, B.J. Rains quotes coach Harsin about Finley and his progress. Harsin said:
The last few practices he’s done well. We want to get him those reps out there, but at the same time, we also know that he’s not full strength to make some of the throws.
The only way were going to be allowed him to get stronger is to let him go out there and try to make some of these plays.
Rains also notes Finley looked good in the April 5 scrimmage the Broncos held for Boise State faculty, staff, students, invitees and the media.
One of the throws the 6'4", 192-pound quarterback out of Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix, Ariz., made was in the end zone to senior wide receiver Matt Miller. The pass was placed in such a way that only Miller could have grabbed it.
It impressed many in the crowd, and you have to wonder how much better he will be once he is completely healed.
Look for Finley this Saturday. He is most likely fighting to be senior quarterback Grant Hedrick's backup. If he can continue to progress, he is probably the favorite to land the job.
Thomas Stuart, QB
The other player who is competing against Ryan Finley for the backup quarterback spot is JUCO transfer Thomas Stuart.
Stuart comes to Boise via Butte Junior College, where in 2013 he was named the Nor-Cal Conference Offensive Player of the Year and first team all-league, according to BroncoSports.com. He also led his team to a California Junior College State Championship and a co-National Championship.
Stuart looked good at times in last Saturday's scrimmage, but he also had moments when he would try to force things. He is clearly athletic, and the more comfortable he gets with this offense, the more competitive he is going to become.
In the blue and orange spring game, fans should keep an eye on Stuart and Finley. Both are going to be doing all they can to show they have what it takes to back up Hedrick.
Dylan Sumner-Gardner, S
The Boise State defense looked impressive in last Saturday's scrimmage. Many of the veterans showed up in a big way, and they dominated all day.
It's too early to call, but preliminary indications are the Broncos defense is going to be solid, maybe even special in 2014. However, it wasn't only the veterans who looked promising last week. Some new talent also made their presence known as well.
Probably the most notable newcomer to make waves in the first scrimmage was freshman safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner.
His speed and athletic ability are obvious, and he doesn't play like a true freshman with only a few weeks of college practice to his credit. At 6'1", 201 pounds, he doesn't look like a first-year player, either.
Sumner-Gardner is everything his 4-star rating said he was. Look for him this Saturday as he will no doubt be impressive once again.
Derrick Thomas, RB
One of the other key position battles going on in spring camp is for backup running back. Unlike second-string quarterback, the No. 2 running back sees quite a bit of action in every game.
Going into 2014, Boise State has a solid starter at this position with Jay Ajayi leading the way. However, the player who will be second on the depth chart isn't clear just yet.
Redshirt senior Derrick Thomas came to Boise last season as a JUCO transfer. He has the tools, size and potential to do some great things. However, in 2013, he never seemed to find his stride.
So far this spring, he has been impressive, but he didn't do much in last week's scrimmage. Still, fans should be excited to see what he does this week and this fall.
Devan Demas, RB
Probably one of the biggest surprises of last week's scrimmage was the emergence of redshirt sophomore running back Devan Demas.
On several occasions, he made decent runs that were impressive, and his change of pace and style could be a huge asset this fall for the Broncos.
Demas is a 5'8", 172-pound running back who uses deceptive moves and quickness to find space. It is quite a bit different than the bruising style of 6'0", 225-pound Thomas.
No doubt both of these players will be utilized in 2014, but fans should keep an eye on Demas this Saturday as he competes to be backup to Ajayi.