NFL Draft projections are getting serious now. And good luck figuring them out. NFL Draft projections are getting serious now. And good luck figuring them out. This week’s Sports Illustrated has to be encouraging for former Boise State safety Darian Thompson, who is listed as the No. 5 defensive back in the draft by Chris Burke. The synopsis from the SI scribe: “Thompson’s 19 career interceptions hint at a centerfield-type safety, but he deserves round 1 consideration because he’s an all-around defender. His eager approach closer to the line could turn him into a box safety.” Then on ensuing pages comes Burke’s mock draft, covering the first two rounds. He has Thompson as a second-rounder, going 42nd overall to the Miami Dolphins.
Maybe because he’s a tweener, Boise State product Kamalei Correa isn’t listed in Burke’s top 15 at either defensive line or linebacker. But there’s Correa in Burke’s second round, the 48th overall pick to the Indianapolis Colts. “The underrated outside linebacker has a chance to be everything Bjoern Woerner (Round 1, 2013) never was for Indy,” writes Burke. Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell is listed one spot ahead of Correa in the mock draft, going to New Orleans. And Burke tabbed Fackrell as the No. 7 linebacker available.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. hasn’t wavered in his touting of Correa as a first-round choice. In this week’s ESPN The Magazine, Kiper puts Correa in Green Bay as the No. 27 overall pick. “A high-energy speedster off the edge could look great on this D, and Correa is a blur,” writes Kiper. The first round will be selected Thursday, April 28, followed by the second and third rounds on Friday, April 29, and the fourth through seventh rounds on Saturday, April 30.
Two former Idaho Vandals have re-upped in the NFL. Safety Shiloh Keo, who made a game-changing interception in the last game of the regular season to help Denver secure the AFC’s top seed in the playoffs, has been signed to a new one-year contract by the Broncos. Keo didn’t join Denver’s Super Bowl run until December 9, after he had famously tweeted defensive coordinator Wade Phillips suggesting Phillips hire him. Also, linebacker Korey Toomer gets another shot with Oakland, re-signed by the Raiders after logging four tackles last season.
Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice met the media yesterday for the first time since being considered for the Saint Louis job—and since the entry of James Webb III into the NBA Draft and the addition of assistant coach Phil Beckner. Rice was philosophical about Webb and his pro basketball prospects, and he was excited about what Beckner brings to the table defensively.
Now, how are things really after Rice’s flirtations with Saint Louis? He was optimistic, as you’d expect, about his future with the Bronco program. The undercurrent of his comments appeared to address community support that has increased during his tenure—but has now leveled out. “We can’t get stagnant, and we’re not going to,” Rice said when asked what it takes to keep coaches around. “Dr. Kustra gets it—Curt (Apsey) gets it,” said Rice. “We want to be an elite program in what is a great basketball league.” If the Broncos are going to regain whatever momentum they lost at the end of this past season, next winter will be a pivotal one on the court. Rice will be rebuilding without Webb, Anthony Drmic and Mikey Thompson.
Catching up on a couple Mountain West basketball notes from last week: Cullen Neal has settled on Ole Miss as his new destination. Neal, the polarizing son of New Mexico coach Craig Neal, left the Lobos program at the end of the season. It was a stressful life. The more unreasonably passionate folks in UNM’s fan base directed what coach Neal characterized as “death threats” toward his son. Cullen Neal will be a graduate transfer and will have two years of eligibility with the Rebels. And Malik Pope, San Diego State’s 6-10 sophomore forward, has declared for the NBA Draft. But Pope hasn’t hired an agent (unlike Webb), so he’ll still have the option of returning to the Aztecs by May 25. He played just 18 minutes per game this season, averaging 6.3 points and four rebounds.
As the Idaho Steelheads gear up for Game 3 of the ECHL Western Conference quarterfinals tomorrow night against Allen in CenturyLink Arena, we check in on the one and only former Steelhead to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. Jay Beagle, in his eighth season with the Washington Capitals, contributed a goal last night in a 6-1 rout of Philadelphia that gave the Caps a three games-to-none lead in their first-round series. Beagle also scored a goal in Game 1 against the Flyers. In 57 games during the regular season, he scored 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) for Washington. Beagle, a member of the Steelheads’ last Kelly Cup championship team in 2007, signed a three-year contract extension with the Capitals before the season started.
No one ever questioned how hard Greg Randall worked as Boise State’s wrestling coach, but diminishing returns the past few seasons have spurred a parting of the ways. Since finishing second in the Pac-12 and 19th in the country in 2012-13, the Broncos have won just three matches in each of the past three seasons. Earlier in his head coaching career Randall brought four Pac-12 titles to Boise State. This marks the end of a 24-year stay at Boise State—Randall assisted Mike Young for 10 years before taking over upon Young’s retirement. As a college wrestler, Randall was a three-time All-American for legendary coach Dan Gable at Iowa.
Former Boise Hawk John Lackey, one of the elder statesmen of a young Chicago Cubs roster seeking to end a 108-year world championship drought, led by example last night against his old team. In his first start against the St. Louis Cardinals, the club he left during the offseason, Lackey threw seven scoreless innings, scattering four hits and striking out 11 while walking just one batter in a 5-0 Cubs victory. The 37-year-old righthander came into the game 2-0, but his ERA was a shaky 5.68. Win No. 3 lowered his ERA to 3.66.
Of the 26,639 finishers in the Boston Marathon yesterday, one Idahoan finished in the top 50. That’s pretty good. Sam Krieg, a 39-year-old from Pocatello, ran the Patriots’ Day classic in 2:33.03. The top Treasure Valley finisher was 28-year-old Boisean Jeff Delfavero. He was 23 minutes behind Krieg—and 927 runners back (Delfavero was 975th). Such is the crush of competition every year in Boston.
This Day In Sports…April 19, 1991, 25 years ago today:
It’s the “Battle of the Ages,” a bout between 28-year-old world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and 42-year-old former champ George Foreman. Holyfield was at the peak of his career, while Foreman had won 24 consecutive fights since launching a comeback in 1987. Before a star-studded audience that included Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Holyfield ultimately wore down Foreman in a unanimous decision. Incredibly, Foreman would regain the heavyweight title briefly in 1994 at the age of 45.
(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.)