Boise State vs Wyoming Football

Boise State running back Andrew Van Buren (21) charges down the field for a positive gain against Wyoming on Sept. 29, 2018, in Laramie, Wyoming.

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The Idaho Press is counting down the 20 most important players for the Boise State football team in 2019. Next up on our list is No. 9, Andrew Van Buren:

There’s no secret that one of Boise State’s biggest challenges this fall will be to replace the production lost by running back Alexander Mattison, who was a third-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL Draft in April.

Andrew Van Buren will have a big say in just how well the Broncos are able to do.

As a true freshman, Van Buren rushed 34 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns in last year. The highly touted recruit came in and showed flashes, but overall didn’t see much time behind Mattison. The 163 yards were the fewest for a No. 2 rusher since Boise State moved to FBS status in 1996.

So Van Buren is largely unproven, and now will be expected to play a big role in the running game this fall. Previous backs Jeremy McNichols and Mattison each played some as true freshmen before taking over as the starter the following season. Van Buren’s path appears to be similar, but whether he’s ready for that big of a workload remains to be seen.

Van Buren’s average of 4.8 yards per carry was actually better than Mattison’s 4.7. But Mattison had nearly 10 times the carries (302 to 34) than him.

The 6-foot, 220-pound Van Buren’s best game came in the home opener against UCONN, when he rushed 13 times for 75 yards and scored his first career touchdown in a 62-7 blowout win. But that means he had just 21 carries for 88 yards in the other 12 games. He had 26 carries in the first six games, and just eight in the final seven.

Returner Robert Mahone figures to have a bigger role in the running game, and incoming four-star freshmen George Holani and Keegan Duncan will both have a chance to play as true freshmen this fall. But Van Buren will no doubt have a big role for the Broncos regardless, and has plenty of pressure to produce.

Boise State has had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the past 10 years, the longest current streak in college football. Van Buren is probably the Broncos’ best bet to extend the streak to 11, but that might be asking too much.

Boise State’s 20 Most Important Players in 2019{/span}

No. 20: Chase Hatada

No. 19: DeAndre Pierce

No. 18: Octavius Evans

No. 17: John Bates

No. 16: Kekaula Kaniho

No. 15: Joel Velazquez

No. 14: Riley Whimpey

No. 13: Kekoa Nawahine

No. 12: Eric Quevedo

No. 11: Jalen Walker

No. 10: CT Thomas

{span class=”print_trim”}No. 9: Andrew Van Buren

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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