Three of Boise State’s five legit prospects were chosen in the NFL Draft over the weekend. Only three of Boise State’s five legit prospects were chosen in the NFL Draft over the weekend, but the fact that the trio was taken in the first three rounds speaks to the staying power of the Bronco program since the turn of the century. Kamalei Correa, Darian Thompson and Rees Odhiambo mark the second time in history Boise State has had three players go in the first three rounds, joining Shea McClellin, Doug Martin and Tyrone Crawford in 2012. The Broncos have now had 18 players drafted this decade, with 11 of those going in Rounds 1, 2 or 3.
The Baltimore Ravens felt good enough about Correa still being on the board that they traded down twice in the second round before getting him with the 42nd overall pick. And Baltimore got extra fourth and fifth round picks out of the deal. The Ravens’ draft report card is good. Writes Lindsay Jones in USA Today, “The best two picks might have been on Friday, when they added DE/LB Kamalei Correa and DE Bronson Kaufusi (BYU) to reinvigorate the pass rush.” The Ravens need help for Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, who are 33 and 32, respectively. It certainly appears Correa’s decision to forego his senior year at Boise State was a solid one. His wallet is about to tell him so.
Thompson was selected about where you’d expect considering his tumultuous time at the NFL Combine in February. That was balanced by Thompson’s North MVP honor at the Senior Bowl and his strong Pro Day performance in March, and he was taken in the third round by the New York Giants. Thompson is already getting some guff from the Giants’ cynical fan base on the chat boards, but general manager Jerry Reese is all about the Mountain West career interceptions leader. “Big kid, center fielder, checks a lot of boxes for us,” Reese said. “We really like how he makes plays on the football. We think he’s a solid tackler back there. Makes the calls. Captain. High test score. A lot of things to like about him.” That high test score, by the way, was a 29 on the Wonderlic.
The big Bronco surprise was Odhiambo’s selection in the third round by the Seattle Seahawks. Obviously Tom Cable’s appearance at Boise State’s Pro Day in March wasn’t just for show. Cable, the renowned Seahawks offensive line coach and former Idaho head coach, put Odhiambo through the paces (the left tackle had to sit out drills at the Combine as he recovered from last fall’s broken ankle). Odhiambo and Texas A&M’s Germain Ifedi, Seattle’s first round pick, are being brought aboard as building blocks as the Seahawks seek to replace Russell Okung and J.R. Sweeney up front. What the national media was most fascinated with was the fact that Odhiambo didn’t even see his pick on TV—he was already in Seattle, but he was cooking pot roast while he visited Boise State teammate Marcus Henry and his family.
As a stanza of Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” goes through my head, we run down Boise State’s free agent signings. Two of them have big brothers of sorts awaiting. Cornerback Donte Deayon has a brother just a year older, as he signed with the New York Giants and will hook up with Thompson. And linebacker Tyler Gray is headed to Miami, where Jay Ajayi can show him the ropes. Gray would be seeing another familiar face had the Dolphins not traded Jamar Taylor to Cleveland. Marcus Henry will give it a go in New Orleans, where Kyle Wilson is not longer on the roster. Wilson is an unrestricted free agent. Tyler Horn, meanwhile, has a free agent tryout set in Kansas City.
The Mountain West take in the draft was even slimmer than last year, when the conference had 10 players selected. Only nine guys were chosen, divided by four teams. Boise State had the three picks, and Colorado State, San Jose State and Utah State had two each. Eight Mountain West teams were shut out of the NFL Draft this year. But the good news is that five of the picks came in the first three rounds—the aformentioned Broncos, along with Utah State linebackers Nick Vigil and Kyler Fackrell. Vigil and Fackrell went back-to-back in the third round to Cincinnati and Green Bay, respectively.
Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice is remaking his staff as much as his team going into the 2016-17 season. Jeff Linder, Rice’s righthand man since he took over the Bronco program six years ago, has been named head coach at Northern Colorado. The UNC opportunity is a great one for Linder, a native Coloradoan, but it’s also part cleanup job. The Big Sky school fired coach B.J. Hill just 11 days ago amid an NCAA investigation. Rice has also seen assistant Danny Henderson go to Oklahoma State and director of basketball operations Isaac Williams return to Eastern Oregon.
Meridian’s Troy Merritt and Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge both made the cut over the weekend at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which is not over yet. Tournament officials had to cut the rain-plagued event to 54 holes in an attempt to finish play today. Rain’s in the forecast again, though. Aldridge has been playing well between deluges, sitting in a tie for 42nd at five-under through 12 holes of what is now the third and final round. Merritt is at the tail end among those still playing—he’s tied for 80th at even-par and is two-over midway through his final round.
Since first starting play in conference championship events in a bracket format in the Big Sky in 1993, the Boise State men’s tennis team has reached at least the semifinal round every year and has gone 51-9 in conference tournaments. But that “9” represents the Broncos’ last match, a 4-3 loss to UNLV on the Rebels’ home courts yesterday in the Mountain West championship final, ending BSU’s run of four straight MW titles. Boise State women’s tennis saw its season come to an end Friday, with a 4-1 loss to San Jose State in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Championships.
The big league weekend as it pertains to former Boise Hawks started out with a slam—a grand slam from the Cubs’ Matt Szczur to key a 6-1 win over Atlanta Friday. It was the first of Szczur’s big league career, now in season No. 3. He has earned his place on the Cubs roster as a valuable utilityman. Szczur played for the Hawks in 2010, about seven months after being named MVP of the 2009 FCS national championship game, when he amassed 270 all-purpose yards in Villanova’s 23-21 win over Montana.
This Day In Sports…May 2, 2002:
Seattle’s Mike Cameron becomes only the 13th big leaguer (and fourth American Leaguer) ever to hit four home runs in one game, triggering a 15-4 Mariners rout of the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. What’s more, Cameron and M’s second baseman Bret Boone became the first pair of teammates in history to each sock two homers in the same inning, part of a 10-run first inning.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)