BOISE — An already deep stable of running backs will have another Bronco at the disposal of coach Chris Petersen and Boise State this year.
True freshman Aaron Baltazar made enough of an impression during fall camp that the Broncos plan to throw him into the mix for carries beginning with Saturday’s season opener at Washington.
Boise State released an updated depth chart Monday and the 5-foot-10, 215-pound Baltazar was listed along with Jack Fields as co-backup running backs to starter Jay Ajayi.
And Petersen confirmed he’ll play right away in some capacity.
“He’s a heck of a player out of high school and he hasn’t missed a beat since he’s been here,” Petersen said. “He’s natural and he’s very calm. Things don’t rattle him, and he’s pretty good on top of that.”
A graduate of Eastlake High in Chula Vista, Calif., Baltazar had 218 carries for 1,855 yards and 23 touchdowns during his senior year. He earned first-team all-state honors, while also recording 73 tackles, an interception and 14 pass break-ups as a defensive back.
Ajayi rushed for 548 yards on 82 carries last season as the backup to D.J. Harper, who was among those cut Monday by the San Francisco 49ers. Ajayi rushed for a school-record 6.68 yards per carry and entered camp as the likely starter.
Fields and junior college transfer Derrick Thomas were expected to compete for the No. 2 spot but Baltazar forced his way into the mix from day one. And for a team that Petersen has said needs four to five running backs ready for the season, the Broncos offense will gladly take as many quality backs as they can have.
“I like him a lot,” quarterback Joe Southwick said. “He kind of has a nice little presence about him that we can rely on him that is a little different for a true freshman, I think. I’m not saying he’s cocky, but you get a feeling that he understands the offense good enough that we can trust to put him out there.
“At the same time he kind of has that, ‘I’ll do my job, I’ll do my one-eleventh of this play,’ and I think that’s a good place to start. On top of that he’s a heck of a runner. He’s a very talented, athletic guy and I’m excited to see him maybe get some playing time.”
OTHER TRUE FRESHMEN TO PLAY
Baltazar is not the lone true freshman that will see action for the Broncos this season. Petersen said defensive linemen Gabe Perez and Kamalei Correa, corner Jonathan Moxey and linebacker Darren Lee would definitely play, either at their position or on special teams. Decisions are still being made on others.
MARTARANO TO REDSHIRT
A true freshman that likely won’t play this season is Fruitland High graduate Joey Martarano. Petersen said the linebacker, along with his high school teammate tight end Alec Dhaenens, will probably redshirt.
“Those guys are doing a great job and we love them. I think they are going to be very good players here. In an ideal world, we redshirt them all, but we don’t live in an ideal world,” Petersen said.
FLORENCE TO TRANSFER
Cornerback Deon’tae Florence is no longer listed on the Boise State roster and has elected to transfer to an FCS school.
“He wants to play and is going to go to a I-AA school,” Petersen said. “We’re not exactly sure where but we’re trying to figure it out rapidly.”
Florence was not among the top four corners on the depth chart and figured to not see much action this season.
GOODALE WINS KICKING BATTLE, GETS SCHOLARSHIP
Junior Dan Goodale beat out junior college transfer Tyler Rausa and will open the season as the starting kicker. Goodale, a Timberline High graduate, was the starting kicker as a freshman in 2011 but missed a key kick against TCU late in the season and lost his starting role for 2012.
Petersen also announced Monday that both Goodale and linebacker Travis Saxton, an Eagle High graduate, were put on scholarship for the fall semester after previously being walk-ons.
BRONCOS PREPARING FOR SEFERIAN-JENKINS TO PLAY
Petersen said the Broncos are “absolutely” preparing for Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and wide receiver Kasen Williams to play in Saturday’s season opener but said “we are preparing for their schemes and whoever they put out there, they put out there.”
Both Seferian-Jenkins and Williams dealt with legal issues during the offseason and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian has said any penalties stemming from the incidents will be handled internally. Seferian-Jenkins is also dealing with a broken finger.
Tutulupeatau Mataele is not enrolled at Boise State and won’t play for the Broncos this season, Petersen said. The junior college transfer is dealing with an academic issue stemming from his time at Mt. San Antonio College. … Petersen said the Broncos are “totally good” on the injury front and that everyone should be available Saturday in Seattle. He confirmed that wide receiver and kick and punt returner Shane Williams-Rhodes is no longer wearing the cast that he had on his wrist and arm during the open scrimmage on Aug. 18.