Having three players chosen in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft three months ago is a feather in Boise State’s cap. But now they’re gone. They have no bearing on the 2016 season. Two of them, Darian Thompson and Donte Deayon, are now roaming the New York Giants secondary rather than that of the Broncos. And if they’re not missed in the opener at Louisiana-Lafayette, they likely will in the first game on the blue turf versus Washington State when Luke Falk and Gabe Marks materialize. Things look okay at safety right now with Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Chanceller James (so long as there’s not any disciplinary action still in the hopper for those two over the next few weeks). Coach Bryan Harsin was non-commital on their Opening Day status at Mountain West Media Days.
That Wazzu game looms large for the cornerback spot. On one side is returning starter Jonathan Moxey, who will presumably be, shall we say, more introverted as a senior. The other side is crucial to Boise State’s hopes this season. Right now there’s an “or” between senior Raymond Ford and sophomore Tyler Horton on the depth chart. Can either be an every-down corner? Depth is a issue, too. To be sure, there’ll be more than one true freshman cornerback on the field this fall. The guy who’s been getting the most mention is DeAndre Pierce, a 5-11, 168-pound speedster from national high school power Long Beach Poly.
The preseason Coaches Poll is out, and Boise State is tied for third in line to get into the Top 25 among “others receiving votes” with 73 points. San Diego State is another eight slots down with 18 points. Also of note, the only Group of 5 school in the Top 25 is No. 13 Houston (nobody else between UH and the Broncos). Chris Petersen’s Washington Huskies make the Top 25 at No. 18, while Washington State is one slot behind Boise State with 47 points, and BYU has six points. So why didn’t the defending Mountain West champion Aztecs draw more votes? Look at the common thread among all the other schools mentioned. They all have a solid returning starter at quarterback. San Diego State is unproven at QB. That’s important.
Zeke Birch has become the seventh commitment in Boise State’s 2017 recruiting class, and the second from the state of Idaho. Birch is a 6-5, 270-pound defensive lineman from Madison High in Rexburg. Chase Glorfield of BroncoCountry.com reports that Birch was born in Florida to Haitian parents and was adopted as a baby and moved to Eastern Idaho. Elsewhere, defensive end Kaleb Hill has landed were many speculated he would. Hill left the Boise State program this summer and has tweeted that he’ll transfer to Texas Tech. Hill’s twin brother, Kolin, originally committed to Notre Dame and has already transferred into the Red Raiders program.
As NFL Hall of Fame weekend unfolds in Canton OH, ESPN NFL reporter Kevin Seifert posted a list of 10 players who should be in the Hall, but aren’t. Included is former Idaho Vandal great Jerry Kramer. But, of course. Writes Seifert: “Kramer is responsible for the most famous block in NFL history (on) Bart Starr’s touchdown dive to win the 1967 NFL Championship Game, the Ice Bowl. In 1969, Hall of Fame voters named him the best guard in the first 50 years of the NFL. He has been a Hall finalist 10 times but missed the cut each time. One popular theory as to why Kramer has been passed over: There are 11 enshrined members of Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers teams, with a few other likely worthy candidates also on the periphery. Kramer has been caught in a logjam, but he should not be forgotten.” Preachin’ to the choir out here.
Another ESPN.com list: “Position battle to watch for all 32 NFL teams.” In Miami, it’s at running back. Writes James Walker, “The Dolphins have a classic training camp battle involving a longtime veteran, Arian Foster, against an unproven upstart, Jay Ajayi. Foster, a former Pro Bowler coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered in October, has ground to make up. Ajayi began camp with the first team but recently suffered a bone bruise on his knee that caused him to miss practice time. That opened the door for Foster to get more reps with the starters. Foster already is showing flashes, especially catching the ball out of the backfield. This competition won’t be determined until late in the preseason.” It’s kind of important that the Jay-Train stays healthy this year, do you think?
The Summer Olympics are set for the Opening Ceremonies tonight in Rio (man, I hope it all goes well). First out of the gate in competition among Idaho ties will be Will Brown tomorrow, followed by Kristin Armstrong, Courtney McGregor and Isabella Amado on Sunday. Brown, from Twin Falls, is set for the 10-meter air pistol. Armstrong will ride in the women’s cycling road race—that, of course is not the event in which she captured her gold medals in the previous two Summer Games. Armstrong finished 35th in the road race in London, 25th in Beijing, and eighth at her Olympic debut in Athens in 2004. McGregor and Amado, incoming freshmen in the Boise State women’s gymnastics program, will represent New Zealand and Panama, respectively, in the qualifying round Sunday.
Tyler Aldridge’s home-stretch push for the top 125 in the PGA Tour’s FedExCup standings didn’t start so well yesterday. The Nampa golfer carded a one-over 71 in the first round of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, CT. Aldridge did birdie three of the final six holes, though—he’s tied for 94th. It was worse for Troy Merritt. The former Boise State star’s first-round 73 included a triple-bogey on No. 13.
The Boise Hawks were refreshed last night after a three-day All-Star break. So was Tri-City, though, and the host Dust Devils took a 4-3 win in Pasco. The Hawks had to face Cal Quantrill, the eighth overall pick of the 2016 MLB Draft by San Diego. Quantrill was making his Northwest League debut, and Tri-City threw him for only 2 2/3 innings, during which he struck out four and allowed just one hit. Once Quatrill was gone the Hawks ralled for three runs in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough. The five-game series continues tonight.
Notes on two other “trade deadline guys” among former Boise Hawks. Will we be checking in on former Brandon Guyer in October? Guyer was fortunate enough to be traded from Tampa Bay to Cleveland after 4½ seasons with the Rays. He went 2-for-4 and scored a run yesterday in the Indians’ 9-2 romp over Minnesota. The 30-year-old outfielder is hitting .245 for the season. Guyer batted .268 for the Hawks in 2007. And Ricky Nolasco was dealt from the Twins to the L.A. Angels. Nolasco allowed five runs over six innings, three of them on solo home runs, in his first start with the Halos last night (Oakland beat the Angels 8-6 in 10 innings). The 33-year-old right-hander is in his 11th big league season. He pitched for Boise in 2002.
KTVB.com Mountain West Factoid of the Day: The latest attempt at a coaching transition from the FCS to the FBS in the conference bears watching this season. It was stunningly difficult for Bobby Hauck to go from Montana to UNLV. Hauck was 80-17 with the Grizzlies and guided them into three FCS national championship games (they were runnerup all three times). Then Hauck was 15-49 in five years with the Rebels before being fired at the end of the 2014 season. Craig Bohl is at a crossroads in his third year at Wyoming. Bohl finished his stay at North Dakota State with an unprecedented three straight FCS titles. He is 6-18 after two seasons with the Cowboys.
This Day In Sports…August 5, 2001, 15 years ago today:
Trailing 12-0 in the third inning and 14-2 in the seventh, the Cleveland Indians stage a stupendous rally and beat the Seattle Mariners, 15-14, in 11 innings at Jacobs Field. The Indians joined the 1911 Chicago White Sox and the 1925 Philadelphia Athletics as the only teams in big league history to overcome 12-run deficits. It was an aberration for the M’s, as they won an American League record 116 games that season.
(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.)