CU’s Jarek Broussard confident in starting as Buffs running back against Stanford

BOULDER — Shannon Broussard-Martin listened to football coaches gush over the years about how her son was so talented. Her son knew it, too. Jarek Broussard predicted this would happen.

The University of Colorado sophomore running back — passed over by most major college football programs because of his smaller stature, and twice-recovered from knee surgeries — starred in his Buffaloes debut last week with 33 touches, 208 yards and three touchdowns. Broussard put the Pac-12 on notice.

People who know the 5-foot-9, 185-pound bulldog-of-a-tailback best are far less surprised.

“We were talking days before the game,” Broussard-Martin said. “He was like: ‘Momma, I’m telling you now, my name is going to be all over Colorado.’ … Now, every time you open the internet, that’s all you see — Jarek Broussard. I am so happy for him.”

Count former Buffs running back and current Denver Bronco Phillip Lindsay impressed. He tweeted (@I_CU_boy): There’s a new #23 in town! Go Buffs!

CU (1-0) travels to Stanford (0-1) on Saturday with rushing confidence despite the indefinite injury absence of Alex Fontenot, the projected starting running back to begin the season. Broussard entered camp as an unknown but quickly turned heads to earn the job.

“(There is) perseverance for sure for Broussard,” CU coach Karl Dorrell said. “He hasn’t played in a while and for him to have the game he had, and the confidence in how hard he ran, that tells you a lot.”

Broussard’s journey to this moment began at about age 5 when his family moved from New Orleans to Texas just days before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Jarek, the middle of three siblings, picked up football a few years later. It quickly became a passion.

Chuck Faucette coached Broussard at Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas. Broussard transferred into the program in 2016 as a junior — the same season Bishop Lynch claimed the TAPPS Division I Texas football state championship. Broussard, playing a hybrid wide receiver/tailback role, recorded six touchdowns in the quarterfinal game.

“I’ve never seen a kid at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds to have that type of power and explosion,” said Faucette, a former NFL linebacker in the late 1980s. “He’s got something special. But he didn’t get a lot of (recruiting) attention because of his size. People didn’t realize how strong and quick he was.”

Broussard-Martin added: “He always said, ‘Do not let the size fool you.’”

CU offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini never had a doubt. The Buffs offered Broussard a scholarship the summer before his senior season. Broussard, enamored with Colorado since a youth camping trip, always dreamed of playing college football in the state. A perfect fit.

What happened next, though, might have derailed his football career entirely.

Broussard suffered consecutive knee injuries — in the playoffs as a senior at Bishop Lynch, then again as a CU redshirt freshman — both requiring surgery and significant rehabilitation. Broussard, following his breakout performance last week, told reporters: “All of those experiences really are just motivation for me, honestly.”

He later posted a message from his Instagram account (@j.br0ussard): Don’t judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.

“Colorado stuck with him,” Faucette said. “He had some trials and tribulations. We kept in contact and I just told him: ‘Hang in there. You’re going to get your opportunity.’”

Broussard’s mother said Jarek has carried himself with confidence since childhood. It came in handy over countless hours in the training room receiving treatment, day after day, in high school and college.

“Jarek doesn’t really let stuff bother him,” Broussard-Martin said. “When he had to have the second knee surgery … it was me more worried than he was.”

Broussard’s laid-back, confident energy was apparent in his first postgame Zoom interview with reporters last week. He answered a question about chemistry with new quarterback Sam Noyer — “We just got comfortable with it,” he said, “and did our thing” — just before Broussard cracked up laughing.

He kept on praising teammates.

“Shoutout to my hogs,” Broussard said. “They really did a good job tonight opening up the holes. If a hole is that big, it’s not hard to run through it.”

Broussard, the reigning Pac-12 offensive player of the week, has more to prove after just one college start. But if Dorrell is successful in reviving the program. it appears Broussard will play a role. A Dallas football community, a tight-knit Broussard family, and the Buffs are all in his corner.

“I texted him,” Faucette said, “and told him: ‘I saw you, buddy. I’m proud of you.’

“He texts me back: ‘It’s just the beginning.’”

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