With the way Malcolm Johnson has run thus far in fall camp, it is all the more impressive when you realize the sophomore wasn’t anywhere near a practice field for a year.

Johnson, a sophomore running back who redshirted in 2009, did not spend last fall, the spring or most of the summer with the Boise State football team. The Oregon native attended Mt. Hood Community College to get his academics in order.

How he would return was a bit of an unknown, but coach Chris Petersen wasn’t too concerned with his fitness.

“You just don’t know when a guy leaves you for as long as he did,” Petersen said. “… you never know what kind of shape they’re going to come back in or what their mentality is. He seems very hungry and he’s in a good shape.”

At Barlow High in Gresham, Ore., Johnson ran for 6,975 yards in his career, including 2,635 on 287 carries as a senior. He is currently on the roster as a non-scholarship player, but his previous knowledge of the offense has helped the depth of a corps that lost Jeremy Avery, Jarvis Hodge and Matt Kaiserman.

“I think when you get a guy like Malcolm in there, it gives you some flexibility and some options in a very good way — I think it helps everybody,” Petersen said.

With a competition behind Doug Martin and D.J. Harper, players like Johnson and Drew Wright are vying for time after spending a good amount of time in the system. Johnson is a bit behind after spending a year away, but has picked up the slack.

“Malcolm can absolutely still run, he is a guy who can pick things up pretty quickly,” running backs coach Keith Bhonapha said. “There are some things that are a little rusty, but it’s really good to have him back and in our group.”

Appreciating the Gem State

For some players, the move to the Treasure Valley can be a bit of a culture shock, especially for those who grew up in a big city clear across the country.

Senior cornerback Jerrell Gavins is in his third season with the Broncos, and he said the transition was tough at first. It wasn’t until this summer that he really gained an appreciation for the area.

“At first, I did not like it at all, I thought there was nothing to do,” said Gavins, a Miami native. “But my teammates have been great in helping that. I don’t know if I’d live here, but it’s a great place to visit. I went shooting over the summer with Josh Borgman and Matt Paradis — that was pretty cool.”

Play of the day

The offense, after struggling in a scrimmage Friday, rebounded a bit Sunday. As he has been all fall in practice, Kellen Moore was sharp in red-zone drills, hitting Mitch Burroughs for a touchdown on the first play of the session. At almost the moment the cornerback covering Burroughs fell down, Moore hit him at the goal line for the easy score.

The Broncos will hold their second set of two-a-days today.

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