7 Sports Live

New Boise State coaching staff coming together, Thomas suspended for bowl game

Boise State first-year head coach Bryan Harsin announced the additions of defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford on Wednesday.

The Broncos now have four of their nine assistants set in place for 2014. Harsin also announced he will retain both Scott Huff (will coach the offensive line) and Andy Avalos (position group to be determined) off the current coaching staff on Tuesday.

In the Material Term Sheet Harsin signed with Boise State, it says he has $2.2 million to assemble a nine-member staff.

None of the contract details for the assistants have been reported at this time.

The last two weeks have more than tested the Boise State football team.

In that amount of time Chris Petersen has left for the University of Washington, Bryan Harsin was named the new head coach at Boise State, and a number of rumors continue to swirl around which assistant coaches might stay and which ones might go.

"I’ve been through this at the high school level where we had a coaching change and it’s a lot of adversity," starting runningback Jay Ajayi said.

"We definitely had to take a leadership role just to try and keep everyone focused and headed in the right direction," senior Matt Paradis said once they learned of Petersen’s decision to leave.

"It can be easy to get distracted."

Clearly the players have been able to spin this adverse situation into a positive.

Junior linebacker Corey Bell emphasized the team is set on sending the senior class out with a fifth-straight bowl victory, while Ajayi explained how a win will help catapult the young Broncos into an important offseason.

"This change is going to bring in a new jolt of energy," Ajayi said. "It’s going to switch things up for us. We’re just excited to see what the future holds."

Junior runningback Derrick Thomas will not make the trip to Hawaii due to a “violation of team standards,” according to interim head coach Bob Gregory.

Thomas has rushed for 95 yards on 32 carries in nine appearances this season, however, he has failed to record a single attempt in each of the last two games.

Gregory said he expects everyone else on the team to travel to Hawaii for the bowl game.

Gregory briefly discussed the departure of true freshman runningback Aaron Baltazar on Wednesday.

Gregory described the decision was “mutual.” He also added that he expects Baltazar to land somewhere as a transfer.

Boise State confirmed that Baltazar has left the program on Monday.

Baltazar rushed for 234 yards on 50 carries in five games before suffering a season-ending injury to his anterior cruciate ligament.

The departure of former Boise State runningbacks coach and recruiting coordinator Keith Bhonapha to Washington left a glaring hole in the Bronco coaching staff.

"It’s tough not having a (position) coach, but we want to make sure we finish the season off strong," Ajayi said. "I told the guys ‘even though we don’t have a coach, we have to keep it going.’"

Along with Ajayi assuming a larger leadership role, graduate assistant Louie Rodriguez has spent a good amount of time with the runningbacks lately.

"With coach (Bhonapha) leaving, coach Louie Rodriguez has taken us under his wing and he’s been helping us out a lot during practice and meetings and watching film."

"It’s been a great effort from our coaching staff," Ajayi continued. "Coach (Robert) Prince has been doing a good job with us just making sure we’re dialed in."

Gregory said that sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes continues to makes progress.

Williams-Rhodes was injured near the end of the San Diego State game and missed the regular-season finale against New Mexico as a result.

Gregory said Williams-Rhodes will be a “game-time decision” when the Broncos take the field against Oregon State on Dec. 24.

Williams-Rhodes is tied with junior Matt Miller with a team-high 77 catches this season.

Both receivers are just five short of Jermey Childs’ school-record of 82.

Gregory mention that senior quarterback Joe Southwick is looking more-and-more like the player he was before he broke his ankle against Nevada on Oct. 19.

Gregory stated that both Southwick and junior quarterback Grant Hedrick will play in the bowl game, but the interim head coach would not specify who would start or how playing time will be distributed.

Southwick engineered a touchdown drive on the opening series of the New Mexico game in his return on Dec. 3. Hedrick then came on and finished out the contest, which Boise State won, 45-17.

— Jay Tust (Follow on Twitter: @KTVBSportsGuy)