At the head of the class

Tonight marks the first Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 10½ years. With that much time having passed, there’s a line to get in. The university had to start somewhere, and what better group than one led by perhaps the most important student-athlete in Bronco history? The Boise State football program was already well on its way when Kellen Moore took his first snap in 2008, but he helped author a story over the next four seasons that will never be repeated, going 50-3 to become the winningest quarterback in college football history. Kellen’s monster victories included Oregon in 2008 and 2009, the 2010 Fiesta Bowl against TCU, Virginia Tech in 2010 and Georgia in 2011. And he did it all with a humility that we should all emulate.

In December of 2006, there was a story in the Seattle Times about the newly-named Washington Player of the Year, a kid from Prosser named Kellen Moore. It was prophetic for the future Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach who had committed to play at Boise State. “It’s what he does every day when he comes home,” said Prosser coach Tom Moore of his son. “On any given day, we have 30 or 40 college games TiVoed.” Said Craig Beverlin, Tom Moore’s longtime friend and coaching colleague and Kellen’s godfather, “For Christmas and birthdays, he’d ask for money so he could buy college and NFL game tapes. The kid just loves football. In terms of strategy and X’s and O’s, I would put him up against a lot of college coaches. He’s as sharp as I’ve seen at that age.” And Kellen’s age at that time was 17.

The only other football player going in tonight is Nate Potter, one of only two FBS consensus All-Americans in Boise State history. The other is Ryan Clady. The difference? Potter has his degree, and Clady doesn’t (yet). It’s a cool deal for the Timberline High grad who followed Clady as the Broncos’ starting left tackle and is one of five consecutive Broncos at that position to be drafted into the NFL. My favorite Potter block was on the winning touchdown in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, when he sealed off a TCU defensive lineman, allowing Doug Martin to vault into the end zone. Among the others to be inducted tonight (tht I haven’t already discussed this week) is the 35-year Voice of the Broncos, Paul J. Schneider. This will be an especially emotional evening for our old friend, who announced Boise State football and basketball from 1973-2008.

I’ve picked out four 2017 redshirts who Boise State fans are most anxious to see tomorrow in the Spring Game. Pay no attention to Brett Rypien’s numbers tomorrow, whatever they may be, because the senior will just be getting courtesy work. Eyes will be on Chase Cord. The 6-2, 202-pounder from Peoria, AZ, comes in with a great arm and the ability to run, and is—at least now—the odds-on favorite to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2019. Also on offense, running back Drake Beasley is intriguing. Beasley was nearly activated as a true freshman last season. But the fact that he wasn’t means he hasn’t played in a live football game since 2015, his junior year in high school. Nevertheless, rated Beasley the No. 5 running back in the state of California in the 2017 recruiting class.

On the defensive side, Zeke Noa will be in the spotlight. He is a key figure in the “who will replace Leighton Vander Esch” sweepstakes. Noa was one of the prizes of the 2017 recruiting class, a two-time CIF San Diego Section Defensive Player of the Year out of the renowned program at Helix High. At 5-1, 246 pounds, Noa is a powerful package. There’s also cornerback Jermani Brown, rated as the top recruit in the Mountain West in 2017. Brown’s reviews have been glowing during spring football as he prepares to serve an apprenticeship in the Bronco secondary—with a shot at taking over in 2019 upon Tyler Horton’s graduation.

Here’s what to expect formatically at tomorrow’s 3:30 game on the blue turf. The team will be split into two squads again—Boise State versus the Broncos. And there’ll be no funky points like you find in an offense-versus-defense configuration, as traditional scoring will be in place. Don’t blink, because it’ll go quickly. The first half will consist of two 10-minute quarters with a standard clock. The second half will feature eight-minute quarters and a running clock. One interesting twist you don’t always see in spring games: there’ll be live special teams on changes of possession. Boise State isn’t breaking in anybody new on punt returns, as Avery Williams is back. But Williams split kickoff return duties with Cedrick Wilson last year. And there’s a bevy of new possibilities there, like Beasley and Brown.

Two other football notes—even though Boise State and San Diego State are two years on/two years off, Rocky Long’s visit to the blue turf on October 6 probably won’t be his last. The Aztecs have extended Long’s contract through 2022, which would be the next year SDSU would be scheduled to visit Albertsons Stadium. He would be 72 years old at that point. Long is 64-29 in seven seasons at San Diego State. And Idaho gets its first game-like look at quarterbacks Colton Richardson, Mason Petrino and Dylan Lemle this afternoon. The Vandals have waited an unusually long time to conduct their first spring scrimmage. They have eight spring practices under their belt already.

The Idaho Steelheads and Allen Americans tangle in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the second time in three years when the puck drops tonight in CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads and Allen went seven games in 2016 before the Americans prevailed on their way to the ECHL championship. The second-seeded Steelies have home-ice advantage in the first round for the first time in three years. They haven’t won a first-round playoff series since 2014. Also, the Steelheads get Tommy Thompson back in time for the playoffs. Thompson has spent most of the season with the Texas Stars of the AHL—he was reassigned to Idaho yesterday.

After considering a move of its project to the old Bob Rice Ford property, the Boise Hawks ownership group has reverted back to its original targeted stadium location on Americana Boulevard. Chris Schoen of Greenstone Properties sent a letter to 500 residents of the area Monday announcing a meeting next Tuesday evening in what’s known as the old Kmart parking lot. The letter says Greenstone “will be submitting an application to the city of Boise…for the development of a mixed-use commercial, retail and residential development, which will include the multipurpose Boise Sports Park.” It’s apparent that, for whatever reason, things weren’t progressing with a proposed land trade that would put a Hawks stadium at the end of Main Street.

This Day In Sports…April 13, 2014:

Bubba Watson wins his second Masters in three years, earning the green jacket by three strokes in a performance devoid of the drama of his 2012 victory. He fended off 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who was tied with Watson after three rounds and was seeking to become the youngest Masters winner in history. Like Spieth, former Boise State star Graham DeLaet was playing his first Masters. But DeLaet was done in by an eight-over 80 in the first round and missed the cut. Tonight DeLaet will be inducted into the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame.

(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.)