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Revisiting the Boise State 2019 Class Part 2: Running Backs

Let’s talk about the running backs!

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a fun off-season series that Michael, Hunter (both of FKWG), Zach, and Mike (both of MWCConnection) are rolling out for your viewing enjoyment (hopefully). Back in February, excitement was at an all time high for fans and coaches alike as the 2023 class was officially signed. Like every year, fans often tout a class as potentially one of the best on paper. However, once players get on campus and actually on the field, the true story begins to reveal itself. It can often take years for a class to truly be judged as the impact of many players won’t be seen for a few seasons. That being said, this series will aim to revisit and evaluate Boise State’s 2019 class. There has now been enough time that many members of the class have either left or are entering their final seasons, which means players are able to be looked at for their production (or lack thereof) rather than projection and hype.

Anyway, each week, the four of us will look at a different position group from the class. While we will contribute two posts each week over the next month, the location of the posts will change. The start of the week will feature a post on FKWG while the end of the week will see a post up on MWCConnection, that way readers of both sites can follow along. Each post will have all of us weighing in on the same talking points for each season: our expectations of the player from when they signed, the production they gave each season on the team, and their overall impact. The impact will fit into one of 3 categories (exceeded expectations, met expectations, or below expectations). We will each keep a running tally of our totals and then at the end we can each determine the over impact the 2019 class had. It should be a fun and interesting study to see what kind of careers each player had and revisit some names that may have been forgotten.

The 2019 recruiting class was arguably the best in Boise State history and one of the best classes by a Group of 5 school ever. It was flooded with four-stars and other highly-rated players and seemed poised to make a big impact on the field for the Broncos. It definitely raised the ceiling for what the coaching staff could do on the recruiting trail. Perhaps more importantly, this class raised the floor for BSU recruiting as well, as not many players would be labeled as projects or under-the-radar types. But how has it down on the field? To hear our thoughts on specific players from the class, read below.

Part 2: Running Backs

Just like they did with the quarterback spot, Boise State took two running backs in their 2019 class. It appeared to be one of the best positions in this class, as both players were rated as four-stars on the recruiting sites. One of the players was local while the other hailed from one of the best high school programs in the country. One went on to win MWC Freshman of the Year while the other didn’t make it out of fall camp.

George Holani


Expectations when he signed: High! He was an incredibly accomplished running back from an extraordinarily successful high school program in California.

2019 Season: He wasn’t the starter, or even expected to be. That role belonged to Robert Mahone. However, he made some really big plays in that first game at Florida State. While Mahone had 142 yards and 2 TDs in that game, he only had 8 touches the next week vs Marshall. He left the game with a stinger, Holani took over, and had 103 yards that night. Then he just kept rolling. By the end, he had managed to supplant Mahone and just barely maintain Boise State’s streak of 1k rushers with 1,014 yards and 7 TDs. He added an additional 206 receiving yards and three more scores.

2020 Season: Had a 100 yard game out of the gate vs Utah State, with a TD and a 7.1 ypc average…and then was only available in two more games the rest of the season. He combined for five carries in those two contests. He just couldn’t stay healthy.

2021 Season: Missed the first couple games of the 2021 season, but even when he came back he was on a very limited snap count. However, his health seemed to return just in time for him to be a part of running all over #23 Fresno in that very fun 40-14 domination in California. He had another three games where he went over 100 all purpose yards to close out the season and seemed to have returned to his dominant self by season’s end.

2022 Season: George had a limited impact in the season opener, despite having 13 carries and three catches. That was just a really bad night for the Boise State offense, overall. Especially the first half. Throughout the season, George missed a couple of games and was on a limited snap count in others, but he ultimately had a highly productive season and accumulated his best statistical output since his freshman year. He finished with 1,157 yards, 10 touchdowns, 153 receiving yards, and another three scores.

Overall Impact: When healthy, he’s been one of the most impressive and talented running backs in Boise State history. He has great speed and power, but his elusiveness is what I think really sets him apart. He’s incredibly shifty. It’s extremely unfortunate that he’s had such difficulty staying healthy, but with him coming back for another year, and being able to split carries with wunderkind Ashton Jeanty, the stage is set for him to stay healthy and go out on a high note. Hopefully even improve his draft stock enough for some success at the next level. I’m tempted to say he exceeded expectations, but his limited availability forces me to temper that to “met expectations”. Begrudgingly. Because George is awesome.


Expectations when he signed: Holani was the clear heir apparent to the BSU RB throne. Big time recruit from one of the top schools in the country, the Broncos snatched him from several P5 teams. Expectations were certainly high.

2019 Season: It took a little time for him to separate himself from the pack, but once he did, he seemed to be exactly what we expected of him. Found a way to hit the 1000 yard mark to keep the streak going, and had a future as bright as anyone’s. Won freshman of the year in one of the best seasons in the last few years for the Broncos.

2020 Season: 2020 was bad for many reasons, not having Holani was one of them. After a dominating season opening performance (100 yards and a TD on 14 carries), he was essentially out with injury for the rest of it. It was disappointing, but the season was so weird that I don’t think I was extremely worried about it at the time.

2021 Season: Year one with Andy and the Ploughense was a dark time for the running game. Injuries made Holani an inconsistent contributor for the first half of the season. Once healthy, he was a difference-maker from Fresno onward, logging 3 straight 100 yard performances. Despite injuries, I think he did enough to convince me that 2019-type Holani would be back in 2022.

2022 Season: He was clearly still hurt for some of the season, but overall it was a nice turnaround. Back to 1000 yards rushing and some really excellent games. Having Ashton Jeanty to take some carries off his body had to have helped some, but I think it’s safe to say he did what he needed to do to meet his expectations this last year.

Overall Impact: It’s sad that the story of Holani will have to include talk about injuries. When healthy, I think he’s one of the best backs the Broncos have ever had, but not having him around caused severe damage to the offense in ‘20 and ‘21. I think that’s a testament to ability, but “the best ability is availability”. All that said, not every recruit becomes a multi-year starter and 2-time thousand yard rusher. Another great season and I think he’ll move up to “exceeds expectations”, but “met expectations” feels right.


Expectations when he signed: Very high! Holani was a highly touted recruit from one of the best high school programs in the country. He appeared destined to be the next NFL running back to come from the Boise State stable.

2019 Season: Holani became a key contributor immediately and eventually took over the starting running back position from Robert Mahone. Holani finished the year with over 1,000 yards rushing and it seemed like he was just getting started.

2020 Season: Holani suffered a season ending knee injury early against Air Force. Boise State’s rushing attack was never the same after Holani went down.

2021 Season: Holani was once again limited because of injury. The Broncos had one of their worst rushing seasons in program history as a result. Holani’s limitations cost the Broncos some games in what could have been a very special season.

2022 Season: Holani wasn’t exactly healthy the whole season and had a really slow start. But his production increased rapidly when Green took over as the starting quarterback. Holani was able to reach 1,000 yards for the second time in his career and helped the Broncos return to the Mountain West Championship game.

Overall Impact: The door is still open for Holani to go down as one of the greats. But his injuries have limited his production. For that reason, I feel that Holani hasn’t quite exceeded expectations, I’m going with met expectations.


Expectations when he signed: Holani was a legit top recruit at a skill position from one of the best high school programs in the country. He looked like the next great Boise State running back. Like others in this class, he had extremely high expectations.

2019 Season: George played right away his true freshman season and was an instant success. It was clear he belonged and adapted to the college level with ease. He eclipsed 1000 yards rushing and 10 total TDs en route to winning MWC Freshman of the Year.

2020 Season: A lot went wrong in the covid season for Boise State and Holani’s health was one of those things. He was only able to play in three games and the running game completed disappeared without him.

2021 Season: George was a no-go for the first game against UCF and although he managed to play in nine games, he likely wasn’t healthy for most of the year and when he did play, he was on a snap-count. Since he couldn’t be a feature back, the running backs all had specified roles, which negatively impacted his overall numbers (only one touchdown). It was clear he still wasn’t his best self.

2022 Season: Holani was able to play without restrictions for nearly the whole season and it showed. He played in 13 games and was once again over 1000 yards set a new career high with 13 touchdowns. He missed the bowl game with an injury, which led him to decide to return for one more season in 2023.

Overall Impact: George can add to his legacy with another strong season next year, although the running back room will be as crowded as ever. Although it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t met expectations during his time with the program. Met expectations seems right here.

Keegan Duncan


Expectations when he signed: Decently high. Anytime you have a player that has that kind of recruiting clout, it gets attention. Regardless of playing for a small town team in Idaho, the man still had 3,260 all purpose yards and 51 TDs as a high school senior. He had three seasons in a row with TWO thousand rushing yards. His junior year of high school alone, he rushed for 2,843 yards, 29 TDs, and scored NINE (!!) special teams TDs.

2019 Season: Transfered to Utah State, right after fall camp.

2020 Season: N/A

2021 Season: N/A

2022 Season: N/A

Overall Impact: Basically none. Failed to meet expectations.


Expectations when he signed: It’s always hard to tell with local guys. I had pretty low expectations, but thought he could be a surprise impact depending on how things panned out.

2019 Season: He transferred to USU after camp and there his Bronco story ended.

2020 Season

2021 Season

2022 Season

Overall Impact: No real impact to speak of, so I’d say failed to meet expectations.


Expectations when he signed: Duncan was a highly rated athlete out of a small Idaho high school. Expectations were high locally, because the Broncos love their local legends. His tape was really hard to evaluate because of the competition he was going against.

2019 Season: In shocking news, Duncan transferred out of the program at the end of fall camp and transferred to Utah State.

2020 Season: N/A

2021 Season: N/A

2022 Season: N/A

Overall Impact: After transferring to Utah State, Duncan switched to linebacker at Utah State but never saw the field before quitting football. He failed to meet expectations.


Expectations when he signed: Duncan was the top player out to come out of Idaho and national recruiting analysts seemed to think he was a legit talent despite being better than any competition he played against in high school. With Holani in the fold, Duncan seemed like someone who would have to fight for carries in a crowded backfield. With his size and experience playing multiple positions in high school, I figured he would eventually switch positions and play linebacker.

2019 Season: Like Bennet, Duncan did not make it out of fall camp with the Broncos. He decided to leave the team in late August, likely after seeing how the depth chart played out.

2020 Season: N/A

2021 Season: N/A

2022 Season: N/A

Overall Impact: Duncan announced he would enroll at Utah State about a month after leaving Boise State. He redshirted in 2019 and did not play in 2020, although he was listed as a linebacker. He then left that program and has not resurfaced. He clearly failed to meet expectations.

Running Totals:

Michael: 0 exceeded expectations, 1 met expectations, 3 failed to meet expectations

Hunter: 0 exceeded expectations, 1 met expectations, 3 failed to meet expectations

Zach: 0 exceeded expectations, 1 met expectations, 3 failed to meet expectations.

Mike: 0 exceeded expectations, 1 met expectations, 3 failed to meet expectations.