Before the season, the Colorado football team had no idea if Jarek Broussard would able to play this fall.
By the end of the season, it was hard to imagine where the Buffaloes would be without him.
CU’s star running back was given another award on Saturday, as he was named one of three annual recipients of the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award.
This is the third year of the award, presented by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), the Associated Press and the Fiesta Bowl Organization.
“Winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award is a great honor,” Broussard said in a press release from CU. “I’d like to thank the Mayo Clinic, CoSIDA, the AP and Fiesta Bowl for making this award possible and honoring me with it.
“First and foremost, this is a team award. I really need to recognize and thank the support I received from my coaches and teammates, especially my offensive line, and all the people in sports medicine who were with me throughout. They all believed in me. Even making a finalist for this prestigious award showed that all the hard work coming back from two knee surgeries was worth it, and winning it is truly special.”
Other winners were Kentucky offensive lineman Kenneth Horsey and Coastal Carolina linebacker Silas Kelly.
Broussard, who was named Pac-12 offensive player of the year by coaches and media last month, battled back from two torn anterior cruciate ligament injuries in his left knee.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Broussard, from Dallas, originally tore his ACL as a senior at Bishop Lynch High School in 2017. He signed with CU and redshirted in 2018 and was preparing for the 2019 season when he tore his ACL again in September of that year.
Head coach Karl Dorrell was hired in late February and he said last week that at that time, coaches didn’t know if Broussard would be ready to play this year.
“We thought it would be Alex Fontenot and the guys that played last year,” Dorrell said. “It was one of those, ‘We’ll see if (Broussard) is ready for camp. We’ll see where he would be in our depth chart.’”
The coronavirus pandemic caused the season to be delayed, pushing the start of fall camp back to early October – or about two months later than normal. That may have helped Broussard get healthy.
Fontenot, the Buffs’ leading rusher in 2019, was injured during camp and Broussard won the starting job. He then took off, rushing for 895 yards in six games for the Buffs (4-2), helping them to their first winning season and bowl appearance since 2016.
Broussard finished the season third nationally in rushing yards per game (149.17) and became the first player in CU history to rush for at least 100 yards in his first four games.
“I am so proud of Jarek, how far he’s come after what he’s been through,” CU running backs coach Darian Hagan said. “It takes a lot out of you not only physically but mentally to come back after one knee surgery, much less two. But he was all-in to do everything he needed to do in his rehabilitation and more, it proves good things can happen when perseverance prevails.”
Broussard was named Pac-12 offensive player of the week twice, including after rushing for 301 yards in a 24-13 win at Arizona.
Broussard played this season with a brace on his left knee and both he and coaches said he hasn’t quite reached his full potential.
“I feel like week by week playing the game I feel like I’ve gotten more and more comfortable, just being out there and just like getting into the system and stuff,” he said. “So honestly I feel like I haven’t really reached my max potential yet because once I come out of the brace, that’s what everybody wants to see. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Broussard is the first CU player to win a major national award since punter Mark Mariscal won the Ray Guy Award in 2002.
Horsey had open-heart surgery in April of 2018, when he was still in high school, and was told his football career was over. This season, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman, who has lost 50 pounds, was Kentucky’s starting left guard.
Kelly, a linebacker for Coastal Carolina, broke his hand in the 2019 season opener and then tore his ACL in the second game. He had to have a second knee operation this past spring, but was ready for the season opener. He led CCU with 80 tackles, while also posting 6.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and an interception.
CU left tackle Will Sherman, who announced on Friday that he is forgoing his senior year to enter the NFL Draft, has signed with Priority Sports. He will work with agents Mike McCartney and Jayme Moten.