D.J. Harper did not take long to show he's back and at full strength.
Behind for the first time Monday night against #7 Virginia Tech, the Broncos turned to Harper on a third-and-one at their own 29. Harper exploded through the right side, broke a couple of tackles and was off to the races down the sideline.
Virginia Tech could not catch him, as Harper sprinted 71 yards to vault Boise State back into the lead in a game they won 33-30. In just four carries on the night, Harper was three yards behind Boise State's leading rusher, Doug Martin.
Bronco coaches and fans could not be happier. They know how much a healthy Harper means to the 2010 Boise State football team. While Martin heads north and south in a fury and gains the tough inside yards and Jeremy Avery darts to the outside with speed to burn, Harper is that rare combination of both strength and speed that gives Boise State a decided advantage.
Harper was the Broncos' leading rusher in their season opening win over Oregon last year with 88 yards. He led Boise State with 89 yards against Miami of Ohio. And, at the time of his injury against Fresno State, he was Boise State's leading rusher with 107 yards. A torn ACL ended Harper's season in the game against the Bulldogs. At the time, he had 284 yards, three touchdowns and a 6.5 yards-per-carry average.
Boise State proved they could have a perfect season without Harper last year, going 14-0 with a 17-10 win over #3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. But Harper makes a great team that much better. His strong legs enable him to bust through tackles and his speed is something to behold.
We are only one week into the 2010 season, but Bronco fans are glad #6 is back!