Will a productive runner or sturdy lineman keep Boise State’s NFL Draft streak alive?

Former Boise State running back George Holani could have declared for the NFL Draft last year and taken his chances.

After battling injuries for a couple of seasons, Holani reminded the college football world what he can do when healthy in the 2022 season. He posted career highs in rushing yards (1,157), rushing touchdowns (10) and total TDs (13) in a performance that was reminiscent of his debut season. He was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year after putting up 1,014 yards on the ground and 10 total touchdowns in 2019.

The 5-foot-10, 208-pound native of Bellfower, California, returned to Boise State last year to make sure he graduated, and also wanted to help the Broncos win a Mountain West title — something they hadn’t done since his freshman year.

That mission was accomplished. The Broncos walloped UNLV in the conference championship game, and Holani said he has no regrets about returning for one more season.

“I’m grateful for every moment and every opportunity that’s been given,” Holani said. “I finished my time here with a championship. That’s a blessing. This is my second home, and I’ve made a lot of brothers for life.”

As soon as Boise State’s season ended in the LA Bowl last December, Holani turned his attention to a dream he’s been chasing since he put on pads when he was 8 years old: a career in the NFL.

“It’s something everyone dreams about, and it’s a blessing to be so close to it being a reality,” he said. “Teams are going to get a guy who can do it all: run, block and catch. I’m going to give my everything. It’s as simple as that.”

The three-day NFL Draft starts tonight in Detroit, with Round 1 taking place. Rounds 2-3 are Friday, and the final four rounds are Saturday.

The internet is cluttered with draft websites that break down every aspect of a player, from their mental acuity to the size of their hands. Almost every one of them evaluates Holani like this: a powerful, elusive runner who catches the ball well out of the backfield but is a risk because of his injury history.

It’s true. A long list of injuries stole Holani’s chance to have an even more productive college career. He played in one full game in 2020 because of a knee injury, and nagging injuries kept him from finding his rhythm in 2021.

His final season as a Bronco didn’t go exactly to plan, either. He missed six games last fall and finished well behind Boise State rushing leader Ashton Jeanty’s 1,347 yards and 19 touchdowns. Holani had 748 yards and seven TDs on the ground.

He also reminded people how explosive he can be with a 66-yard touchdown run and 138 yards rushing in the LA Bowl. He had a 182-yard game in a win over Utah State late in the regular season. He also improved his draft stock with good performances at the Hula Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, and Holani said he’s never felt better.

He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds and put up 225 pounds 24 times on the bench press at the combine.

“I feel good, and I’m just excited about what’s next,” said Holani, who ranks No. 5 at Boise State with 3,596 career rushing yards. “I’m ready to go to work for whatever team is willing to take a chance on me.”

Holani said at the school’s Pro Day in March that he’d already met with pretty much all of the 32 teams in the NFL. Since then, he’s had virtual meetings with the Chiefs and Cardinals, made a top-30 visit to the Seahawks and worked out for the Chargers during a local tryout. Holani said he met with representatives from the Chargers after that tryout and left feeling confident that he’d made a positive impression.

“I’m a game changer on that field,” Holani told NFL Draft Network. “I make plays, period. Every time my number gets called, I’m going to star in that role, no matter what’s asked of me.”

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Holani is probably the best chance Boise State has to extend its NFL Draft streak — the Broncos have had at least one guy drafted every year since 2010 — but he’s far from a lock. If he’s drafted, he likely will be picked Saturday and come off the board between rounds 5 and 7.

Even if he isn’t drafted, Holani almost surely will wind up earning a tryout on a free agent deal. Either way, he said he’s ready to make his dream come true.

“I’ve never shied away from a challenge or hard work,” he said. “Teams are going to get my best and my everything. That’s all I can do.”

Here’s a look at a few more former Boise State players — including one who went on to College of Idaho — to keep an eye on this week.

OL Cade Beresford — The 6-6, 302-pounder started 27 consecutive games at right tackle for the Broncos the past two years and was named first-team All-Mountain West last season. He was a second-team pick in 2022. Beresford began his college career at Washington State, where he started games at tackle and guard.

He said at Pro Day that he was open to switching positions in the NFL, and he was working on snaps during a couple of Boise State practices this spring. Beresford could sneak into the sixth or seventh round of the draft, but he’ll more than likely find his way into some team’s camp as an undrafted free agent.

WR Billy Bowens — Bowens caught 77 passes for 1,024 yards and five touchdowns during his six-year career with the Broncos. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds and cleared 39 inches in the vertical leap at Pro Day, but he also suffered a knee injury. He could be an undrafted free agent.

WR Stefan Cobbs — Cobbs, who had season-ending knee surgery last November, didn’t look quite healthy at Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67, but the native of Fort Worth, Texas, reportedly looked impressive during a local tryout day with the Dallas Cowboys and met with team representatives after the workout, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston. Cobbs is another likely undrafted free agent.

OL Ethan Carde — Carde appeared in 13 games for the Broncos last season, lining up at tackle, guard and even tight end in short-yardage situations. The 6-8, 310-pounder joined the program last year after three seasons at Texas Tech and one at Coffeyville Community College. He’ll be in search of a free agent deal this weekend.

DB Chip Mitchell — Mitchell, who ended his career at The College of Idaho, was one of the most impressive players at Boise State’s Pro Day in March. He posted 15 reps on the bench press, cleared 37 inches in the vertical leap and ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.55.

Mitchell began his college career on Boise State’s track and field team. He walked on with the Broncos’ football team in 2022 and transferred to College of Idaho last year. He led the Yotes with three interceptions and finished No. 3 on the team with 66 tackles in the 2023 season. He could get a free agent offer.