Alllll the way back in April, I wrote an article called "Rushmore Years" in which I speculated on two standout Broncos that, with a good year, could all but chisel their faces into the granite of the Broncos' Mt. Rushmore (Mt. Broncmore?). Given that only four faces are allowed on the hallowed monument, someone on the existing monument was destined to fall off—but to spare their feelings, we'll just say it was a rockslide.
First off, there was Matt Miller, who was poised to become the career receptions leader in 2014 with the yardage record for a chaser. Back in April, I stated that WR Rushmore looked thusly:
- Austin Pettis
- Titus Young
- Don Hutt
- Matt Miller
Keep in mind, this was the rock face before the season started, and it's safe to say nothing's changed. Miller's spot in Bronco history was secure before he passed Pettis' receptions record against Colorado State and remains safe for years to come. Miller probably didn't even need to pass Titus Young's career yardage mark to ascend to the "Washington spot" on Rushmore, but I sure would've felt better if he had. All told, Miller finished an excruciating 15 yards shy of Young's fresh record...and would've broken with ease had he not broken something else this season...his ankle.
The next player I posited was tantalizingly close stamping his visage on Boise State's RB Rushmore was Jay Ajayi. Back in April, I stated that Ajayi needed just one more solid season to boot one of these four from the mountainside:
- Cedric Minter
- Ian Johnson
- Brock Forsey
- Doug Martin
Well, Ajayi DID have a big year...in fact, he had the biggest year in Bronco history. 1.823 rushing yards, 535 receiving yards, and 32 total TDs. Break out the dynamite...Ajayi is in. The question now becomes, who drops off? Keep in mind, we're not kicking guys out of the Bronco Hall of Fame...we're rating top Bronco careers. Things tend to get subjective here, but stats don't lie...Ajayi's 2014 year was the best in Bronco history and his rushing and receiving yard combination was something that had NEVER been done at the FBS level. So, now that we've established that Ajayi is on RB Rushmore...what spot does he take. Minter played in a different era, but the career rushing yardage mark has to put him at or near the top of the list (or for the sake of my Rushmore comparison, in the George Washington spot). Ajayi would've almost assuredly passed Minter if he'd stayed for his senior year and he passed Johnson in my mind (Ian, not Andrew) with his record-setting season. Minter remains the career benchmark king, but Ajayi is unquestionably the best running back to have played on The Blue, so he's getting my "furthest to the left" spot on RB Rushmore. Who falls to the secondary monument up the road? Good question, Drew. Thanks, Drew.
In my mind, Forsey and Martin are left battling for the fourth spot. Martin, a 1st round draft pick, is without a doubt one of the best RBs in Bronco history...and likely would've relegated Forsey to a back up spot if they played in the same era. BUT, Forsey has the longevity and collegiate numbers to hold over Doug's head. What's a sculptor to do? That's probably an argument for another day...suffice it to say, both the players in last April's article locked in their spots on the monument—and those spots are anything but tenuous. Maybe this April we'll project another few guys onto their respective positional Rushmores.
Weekend side convo: where does Grant Hedrick now fall in the all-time Bronco QB hierarchy? Does he at least get consideration for the Crazy Horse monument up the road?