Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Jordan Broadnax aims to be more complete running back in 2013

With Michael Cox as the lead back, Jordan Broadnax never got his chance to shine in 2012.

The running back spent most of his time as a pass-catcher in third down situations last season while Cox took a majority of the snaps out of the backfield.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian File Photo

This year, however, could Broadnax’s chance. Cox has moved on to New York Giants camp after just one season with the Massachusetts football team as a fifth-year transfer, and the junior is ready to make his case to be the No. 1 player in the Minutemen’s backfield.

Broadnax doesn’t want to just catch passes anymore. He wants to do what he loves more than anything else: run the football.

“I was the passing back (last year), I’m trying to be the all-around back this year,” Broadnax said after practice Monday. “I don’t want be out there just for third downs or just passing situations because I love to run the ball. This is what I do. I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid. But I feel like certain people will have certain jobs.”

Broadnax has just 88 career carries to his name after serving as a backup both as a freshman to Jonathan Hernandez and last season behind Cox. He averaged 2.3 yards per carry last season with 124 yards and a touchdown on 53 attempts.

But Broadnax dedicated himself in the offseason to becoming a more complete back, and cites his work ethic as the reason why he’s improved his quickness, his footwork and turned into a more experienced football player.

Broadnax said he is also a better pass-blocker now. And he credits Cox for making that possible.

“I struggled with that my freshman year and when he came in he showed me different keys on how to get the job done,” Broadnax said.

The adjustments have already made an impression on UMass coach Charley Molnar. He said that Broadnax showed a good combination of talent and experience, and especially excelled at “picking up the blitz and knowing his assignments.”

As a result, Broadnax is the early favorite for the Minutemen’s starting running back spot this season.

It’s the position he’s dreamed of since his freshman year. And although he’s being chased by three promising freshmen, he’s confident he’ll get what he feels he deserves.

“I’m very comfortable with where I’m at,” Broadnax said. “Yes, I’ve got people coming closer and closer, but it’s my job to keep the distance far enough. I put the work in every day. My work ethic is where I produce. I feel like that is my niche.”

Broadnax hopes his work ethic will rub off on his teammates, too. He wants to be a leader both on and off the field and set an example for his fellow backs.

Even as a backup last year, he took on a leadership role with Cox as a newcomer to the program. Now he’s looking to carry that over to this year with a new crop of talent joining the team.

“I will teach them everything they need to know if they come to me. It’ll be that simple,” Broadnax said. “I’ll tell them what they need to do and help them out. If they come to my dorm room, I’ll show them the plays, give them certain techniques.”

Broadnax’s teammates have taken notice of his contributions as both a player and a leader.

“Right now Jordan is first,” redshirt freshman Stacey Bedell said. “He has more experience than everybody else, he deserves it right now.”

But Broadnax isn’t just trying to win his teammates over or beat out the other backs on UMass’ roster for the starting job. He has a greater competition in mind.

Broadnax said he’s competing against every running back in the nation for the ultimate prize: a chance to be drafted by an NFL team.

“I’m not just competing against (teammates), I’m competing worldwide,” Broadnax said. “Yes, they are my competition here to be playing on the field, but I’m competing against the guy at Oregon, against the guy at Alabama, I’m competing against all the running backs because everyone has the dream of going pro.”

It may seem far-fetched right now. But Broadnax believes if he continues to work and develop into a more multi-dimensional back, he can make that dream a reality.

Nick Canelas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.


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