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Boise State commit Raymond Sheard breaks into the open field for a long run for Arlington (Texas) High on Sept. 26 in Weatherford, Texas.

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This running back is described as a physical, downhill runner that can catch the ball out of the backfield and excels in pass protection.

No, it’s not former Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, but his possible replacement — 3-star running back Raymond Sheard of Arlington (Texas) High.

Sheard, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior that is set to sign with Boise State on Wednesday, has drawn plenty of comparisons to the all-Mountain West back that will be playing on Sundays in the NFL next season.

“I think they feel like they are getting the replacement for their stud tailback,” Arlington High coach Scott Peach said. “He’s got size, he’s very physical, and he’s also got tremendous athleticism. The thing that’s impressive is that he’s really good at all things, just not just carrying the football.

“He’s good in pass protection and has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and all that. He’s the complete package. I really believe coach Harsin believes he has the chance to be the next star tailback at Boise State.”

Sheard rushed for 23 touchdowns and 1,523 yards during his senior season at Arlington High in the recruiting hotbed of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He was labeled a 3-star prospect by Scout.com and had offers from schools including Oregon State, Colorado State, Tulsa and Texas State.

But it was a visit to Boise for the San Diego State game that made him realize where he needed to be. Sheard returned home from the visit, talked it over with his mom and called the Boise State coaches back a short time later to commit to the Broncos’ 2015 recruiting class.

The main reason? Honesty.

“Coach Harsin was honest with me and said ‘if we don’t think you are capable of doing the job, we’re going to redshirt you,’” Sheard said. “‘But if you work hard and bust your tail and play to your abilities, you have a chance to play.’

“And my mom always tells me you can’t take anything and that you have to earn it and work for it. So I’m not coming in there thinking I’m all that, I’m just coming in like everybody else ready to work hard.”

Sheard said the Boise State coaches were honest with him throughout the recruiting process, which was a comforting feeling. He said he’s built strong bonds with head coach Bryan Harsin, running backs coach Kent Riddle and assistant director of player personnel Antwon Murray.

“We have a good relationship and we’re on the same page when it comes down to working hard,” Sheard said. “They really like me and I like them too because they are real with me and they don’t lie or tell me what I want to hear. They tell me what I need to hear.”

Ajayi has been praised by Boise State coaches and NFL scouts for his blocking ability in pass protection, something Sheard also enjoys doing.

“Oh yeah,” Sheard said. “I love messing up peoples ankles. I love tearing people up and hitting them because they think I’m big so they think I’m soft. They think every big running back is soft, but I throw one shoulder pad on them and they say, ‘oh wait a minute.’”

As for his style of running, Sheard said, “I’m a power back, and I love running downhill because I love hearing other helmets smack off mine.”

Peach agreed with the assessment, describing him as a powerful race horse that Boise State is going to love.

“He looks like a thoroughbred running the football,” Peach said. “He definitely passes the eye test. He’s a downhill runner, he’s a north and south kid and he’s going to fit the Boise State offense because he’s physical at the point of attack and he made people miss this season. He really became a complete back.

“One of the models we use is ‘all in,’ and he’s certainly a guy that will be all in to Boise State. He really loves the game of football, every aspect of it is important to him and being successful is very important to him. He was by far our hardest worker this season for our team, and he’s got leadership skills too with the passion and emotion he brings. I think Boise State is going to be really excited to get him.”

Sheard does not shy away from the Ajayi comparisons and says he enjoyed getting to watch him during games this season. It was during his final game — the Fiesta Bowl — that Sheard realized how happy he was to have chosen Boise State.

“I watched my running back Jay Ajayi do his thing out there, and it was a really good game,” Sheard said. “Everybody was talking trash about how we were going to lose because Arizona was supposedly the best team, but I saw my boy Jay Ajayi throw that stiff arm in the first quarter and it was over with.”

Sheard had planned on running track this spring to improve his speed, but has decided to focus on his schoolwork instead. He had to add a class that was needed for entry into Boise State and said he wanted to make sure he passed all of his classes to eliminate any possible issues.

He’s scheduled to take the ACT on Saturday, and said he doesn’t foresee anything that might keep him from qualifying from Boise State — as long as he takes care of business this semester.

But first comes National Signing Day on Wednesday, when Sheard will gather with teammates and friends and fulfill a dream by signing his Letter of Intent with the Broncos.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Sheard, who said his goal is to get as many yards and score as many touchdowns as possible at Boise State. “I’m just ready for that day to happen. With the recruiting process, there has been a lot of weight on me with coaches calling me and texting me and everything, so I’m just happy to sign and when everybody asks what school I’m going to, I can tell them Boise State. I’m excited.”

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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