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The Idaho Press is counting down the 25 most important players to the 2021 Boise State football team. Next up is No. 14: Running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio.

The Boise State football team ranked last in the Mountain West in rushing during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The Broncos are hoping the arrival of Oregon transfer Cyrus Habibi-Likio can help change that.

Getting George Holani back to full health may be the biggest key in the getting the ground game going, but a lack of depth at running back hurt the Broncos badly last fall — and Habibi-Likio should be a big help.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Habibi-Likio had 21 touchdowns in three years at Oregon — more than anybody on Boise State’s roster has — and was productive when given an opportunity. But he was part of a rotation that saw him mostly used in short-yardage and goal line situations, which is why he transferred — to prove himself as an all-around back.

Holani surpassed 1,000 yards as a true freshman in 2019, but suffered a torn MCL in the second game at Air Force last season. He tried to return late in the season at Wyoming but re-injured the knee and didn’t play again.

With Holani limited to 19 attempts and 108 yards, the rest of Boise State’s running back room was unable to pick up the slack. The Broncos dressed just one scholarship running back — Andrew Van Buren — for several games last season and the group predictably struggled. The Broncos ranked No. 115 of 127 FBS teams at 107.14 yards per game.

Habibi-Likio provides a strong insurance plan should Holani get hurt again, but he should see plenty of action alongside him regardless. For a team desperate for running back help a year ago, Habibi-Likio could have a big role.

B.J. Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013 and is a three-time winner of the NSMA Idaho Sportswriter of the Year Award. He appears on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket every Friday at 4 p.m. for the Blue Turf Sports report.

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