Friday brings another chapter in my early-bird celebration of Albertsons Stadium’s 50th anniversary. Woe is me if I don’t include this one. And it’s not because Colin Kaepernick is in the news again now. This was an all-time thriller. It was October of 2007, Kaepernick’s freshman year at Nevada, and it was his first collegiate start. He drove Boise State crazy. And before you knew it, the Broncos and Wolf Pack were going into overtime, tied 44-44. It was a Sunday night game on ESPN. Late Sunday night. And most of the crowd of 30,394 stuck around. There was a second overtime, and a third, and a fourth. That’s when Nevada, trailing 69-67, failed on a two-point conversion attempt when Tim Brady dramatically sacked Kaepernick to end the game. Still gives you goose bumps.
Here’s my favorite footnote from that game. Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman was also a freshman. Everybody knows what happened to Brotzman as a senior against Nevada. But here’s what he did against the Wolf Pack on the blue turf that night. Brotzman was 4-for-4 on field goals, with a long of 40 yards. He hit from 27 yards as time expired in regulation to knot the game up. If Brotzman hadn’t made that, we wouldn’t be talking about this. He also tied the game at 61-61 with a field goal in the third overtime.
AND JUST LIKE THAT, IT’S ‘WATCH LIST SEASON’
The first Boise State player to officially be named to a 2020 watch list is senior nickel Kekaula Kaniho. He’s a candidate for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (named after Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott) that goes to college football’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community, and Tenacity. Kaniho has become an indispensable part of the Broncos defense. He was first-team All-Mountain West last year after ranking third on the team in tackles-for-loss (11.0) and fourth in tackles (61). Kaniho also had an interception, a fumble recovery and three sacks. The gritty Hawaiian, a health sciences major, was also a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American last season and is a two-time recipient of the Mountain West Scholar-Athlete Award.
THE NEVER-ENDING 2020 RECRUITING CLASS
This has been an eminently strange recruiting season in the Mountain West. Schools like Colorado State and New Mexico are loading up on 2021 commitments, many of them sight unseen. Maybe that will work out; we don’t know. Boise State, with one commit for the 2021 class, keeps fortifying its 2020 group. There was another addition Thursday, as Andy Nwaoko announced his commitment to the Broncos. What a story Nwaoko has. He moved to the U.S. from Nigeria just 2½ years ago and played basketball at Blue Ridge School in St. George, VA. Nwaoko was then introduced to football—and played all of 18 games at Blue Ridge. Next thing you know, he has a scholarship offer at Boise State as a 6-4, 220-pound linebacker with a huge upside.
Nwaoko posted a cool four-minute commitment video Thursday, thanking all the schools that receruited him. “Four months ago today, I received my first call from coach (Spencer) Danielson at Boise State,” said Nwaoko, sporting a Bronco T-shirt. “Ever since, we formed a really strong bond. And he stuck with me through ups and downs of injury and the coronavirus.” Included was a shot of his call to Danielson, after which he went nuts. ‘I look forward to playing on the blue turf—and playing in front of you, Bronco fans. I hope to make you proud.”
KUMBAYA IN TALLAHASSEE?
There were sparks flying around the Florida State football program the past 48 hours, but things appear to have simmered down. Tashan Reed of The Athletic tweeted the other day that “FSU coach Mike Norvell had individual conversations with every player on his roster this past weekend focused on the events surrounding the death of George Floyd.” At least that’s what Norvell told Reed. Defensive lineman Marvin Wilson said not so. “Man this did not happen,” tweeted Wilson. “We got a generated text that was sent to everybody. There was no one on one talk between us and coach. This is a lie and me and my teammates as a whole are outraged and we will not be working out until further notice.”
Amazingly, Norvell was able to nip the mutiny in the bud, holding a team meeting Thursday morning and later getting a “thank you” from Wilson. According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Wilson said the team came away from the meeting with three goals: voter registration for players, fundraising efforts to help send more black children to college, and fundraising specifically to help children in Tallahassee, Florida. “Me being a man of color, I want to be that change,” Wilson said.
FALCONS’ SANDERS FLIES AWAY TO THE BAY
Former Air Force quarterback Isaiah Sanders has joined the Stanford program as a graduate transfer. Sanders started against Boise State in that wild 48-38 Broncos win in Colorado Springs in 2018, throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 97 yards and another TD. He played sparingly in his other two games against Boise State. Sanders’ career with the Falcons produced 953 passing yards, 756 rushing yards and 13 combined touchdowns. Sanders is only the second graduate transfer in Stanford history.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
June 5, 2015, five years ago today: Pat Venditte makes his big league debut for the Oakland A’s, and in the process becomes the first true ambidextrous pitcher to appear in the majors since the 19th century. Wearing a special six-fingered glove, Venditte pitched two innings in the A’s 4-2 loss to Boston and threw 16 pitches from the right side and 12 from the left. He allowed one hit and had one strikeout. Venditte has since “switch-pitched” for Toronto, Seattle, the L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco. He’s currently in the Miami Marlins organization.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)