Bubbling under in the NFL Draft

NFL Draft week is here, and it’s assumed that Leighton Vander Esch and Cedrick Wilson will be the only two players selected out of Boise State this year. Some experts have floated tight end Jake Roh out there as a longshot seventh-round pick, though. Roh rebounded massively in 2017 after being hobbled much of his junior year, with 39 catches for 410 yards and nine touchdowns (plus two rushing TDs). He still has to overcome concerns about durability after a leg injury that kept him out of the final three games of last season. Here’s a twist—DraftAnalyst.com has Roh as its 38th-ranked tight end in the draft. Former Bronco teammate Alec Dhaenens is 36th. Both are primed to be undrafted free agents.

Derrick Fox, the agent and former Boise State wrestler who has represented dozens of Bronco NFL hopefuls over the years, was on Idaho SportsTalk Friday. It’s Fox’s job to keep players on the radar of NFL teams ahead of Pro Day, and consequently the draft. And that’s what he’s doing for Dhaenens and center Mason Hampton. Fox thinks Dhaenens has some momentum. “I thought Alec’s best game film was against Oregon,” said Fox. That was when the Fruitland High grad made his whirling, tackle-escaping 13-yard touchdown catch from Brett Rypien and led the four-player spin-move trick play that went viral and resulted in Boise State’s first touchdown.

Fox said Hampton, the Meridian product, has gotten an assist from the career path of former Boise State star Matt Paradis. “It really helps when somebody from your school gets in through the back door and makes it.” Paradis was on the practice squad during his rookie year in Denver, so his NFL money clock didn’t even start ticking until 2015. Now, after three seasons that have seen him play every Bronco snap at center, the payoff comes. Paradis has officially signed his one-year, $2.9 million contract after being one of the most underpaid players in the NFL last season. He’s recovering from offseason surgery on both hips but is faring well—he was getting around just fine at the Boise State Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony 10 days ago. The former Council Lumberjack will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

College of Idaho’s Purple & Gold Game had plenty of offense Friday night, and Darius-James Peterson was responsible for a chunk of it right out of the gate. The junior quarterback connected with Hunter Juarez on a 73-yard throw on the first possession, setting up the first touchdown of the night. Peterson was an efficient 7-of-8 for 120 yards and a TD in the spring football finale. Nathaniel Holcomb has emerged as the probable No. 2 QB for Yotes after going 14-of-22 for 194 yards and a score. Holcomb is a redshirt freshman from Puyallup, WA.

II ain’t over yet. The Idaho Steelheads, down three games-to-none, gutted out a pair of 2-1 victories at Allen over the weekend and will bring their first-round Kelly Cup Playoff series against the Americans back to Boise. The star of the show each night was goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, who clocked 27 saves Friday night and a whopping 41 last night. Each time the Steelheads had to rally from a 1-0 deficit (Allen has scored first in all five games of the series). The game-winning goals came from Steve McParland and Max French. Batten down the hatches—Game 6 is set for tomorrow night in what promises to be a raucous CenturyLink Arena.

Troy Merritt keeps making cuts on the PGA Tour. The former Boise State star would like higher finishes, but the bottom line is, he’s still making money. Merritt pocketed $26,694 after tying for 36th yesterday in the Valero Open at TPC San Antonio. He carded an even-par 72 in the final round and birdied the 18th to wrap it up. Since tying for eighth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am 2½ months ago, Merritt has missed only one cut—he has placed in the 30’s or 40’s in his other five events.

There were two first-time winners in the 41st Race To Robie Creek Saturday as the 2,000-plus runners weathered a day that was slightly warmer than they’d like. The third time was a charm for Boise’s Gus Gibbs, the champion on the men’s side. The women’s winner was Megan Lacy, who was running for Boise State a year ago as a graduate transfer from Stanford. Lacy provides an excuse for a shout-out to the Boise State Venture College (she’s heavily involved in the program there).

Boise State may have its next distance running star as the Broncos continue to shine in that discipline. Alexis Fuller had a breakout meet at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, CA, Friday night, setting a school record by running 4:12.56 in the 1500-meters. Fuller finished seventh in an elite field that included pro athletes and Olympians. Boise State mainstay Allie Ostrander was 10th. And the Broncos’ Shani Remme earned first-team All-America honors after finishing seventh among 85 competitors at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Friday in St. Louis. Remme had qualified for nationals in the all-around, where she placed 18th with a 39.375, the best all-around score ever by a Boise State gymnast at the national meet.

This Day In Sports…April 23, 2008, 10 years ago today:

Less than five years after starring for Idaho State, defensive end Jared Allen becomes the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL with his trade from Kansas City to Minnesota. The Vikings signed Allen to a six-year contract with $31 million guaranteed—and a total of $74 million possible if he were to reach certain incentives. Allen, the Buck Buchanan Award winner at ISU as Division I-AA’s best defensive player, had led the NFL in sacks in 2007 with 15½ but had a major falling-out with the Chiefs, ending with a breakdown in contract negotiations.

(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.)