Boise State’s search for depth at running back and Oregon transfer Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s desire for a bigger role made the match a natural fit.
Throw in his previous interest in the Broncos and his relationship with new coach Andy Avalos and it was a no brainer.
Habibi-Likio had 21 touchdowns in three years at Oregon and instantly moves near the top of Boise State’s running back depth chart alongside George Holani.
Speaking with the Prater and the Ballgame show on KTIK radio Monday, he called joining the Broncos the “perfect move” for him.
“It just fires me up and fuels me that I get another chance to showcase my talents,” Habibi-Likio told KTIK. “It’s just a new start and it feels good to have that.
“It was pretty neat in the offseason, I got to experience the whole recruiting process over again with a few schools, but when coach Avalos went to Boise I just knew it was the right spot.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Habibi-Likio announced his decision to transfer from the Ducks in late January. Less than two weeks later on Signing Day he picked the Broncos over transfer offers from Wisconsin and Cal.
Habibi-Likio, who took an official visit to Boise State as a senior in high school and had the Broncos on his final list before picking Oregon the first time around, has two years of eligibility left due to the free year given by the NCAA in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can’t wait to get on The Blue and showcase my talents,” Habibi-Likio said. “I’m truly honored and blessed to be part of this organization. I can’t wait. I’m ecstatic.
“I felt like I poured my heart and soul into the program and I felt like I received a lot out of the Oregon organization as well, but this whole offseason I’ve been so fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to play at Boise State.”
He was productive for the Ducks, scoring 21 touchdowns in just 27 games, but was mostly used in short-yardage and goal line situations. He had 122 carries for 409 yards in three years at Oregon. Last fall he had just 19 rushes for 36 yards and four touchdowns in seven games and five catches for 66 yards.
“I felt like I’m a lot more diverse than that and the fact that I get to prove that at Boise State truly is an honor,” Habibi-Likio said.
He’s hoping a more traditional role with the Broncos alongside Holani will help improve his NFL stock.
“It will be huge to be able to showcase my talents in a bigger role,” Habibi-Likio said. “I want nothing more than to be in the NFL besides helping my teammates and Boise State win a championship, but besides that the NFL has been the ultimate goal and it always will be, and I firmly believe playing under Avalos and with this team I’ll get that shot.”
As for his relationship with Holani, who rushed for 1,000 yards as a freshman in 2019 and will likely be the starter, Habibi-Likio said, “He’s a great running back, an amazing running back, and to be able to compete and work with him every day — that’s all I want, a chance to compete. But I already feel we’re super close and we’re going to get closer. I’m excited for both of us to run all over The Blue and kind of be a 1-2 punch this year.”
Habibi-Likio said the two had a previous relationship due to their Polynesian and Tongan backgrounds, but it’s gotten stronger in the two months since he signed with the Broncos.
“I was on the phone with him last night for about 30 minutes just (chatting) it up,” Habibi-Likio said. “He gave me his Call of Duty (video game) username and we’re going to play. We’re close.”
Habibi-Likio said he plans to report to Boise in June in time for summer workouts “to introduce myself to the guys and build a nice, healthy relationship with those dudes.”
While he joked that he’ll miss the loads of free Nike gear he got while at Oregon, Habibi-Likio appears to be all-in with his new team. And both he and Boise State figure to benefit.
“I know how hardcore this fan base is and it just makes me want to go harder,” Habibi-Likio said. “I’m super excited.”