National Letter of Intent Day, the day coach Bryan Harsin calls “our Super Bowl for signing,” netted Boise State 19 players from nine states yesterday (although five players were already on campus). First in was Jermani Brown from the Eastern time zone. Brown, a cornerback from Midlothian, VA, is one of two four-star recruits on the 2017 list according to Scout.com—the other is JC transfer offensive tackle Isiah Moore. You know how coaches feel about star ratings. “I don’t even know where those stars come from,” said Harsin. “That’s never a question I ask.” When asked about Brown, Harsin said, “Pay attention to the job the guy does. Pay attention to him academically.” There’s a lot of hype attached to Signing Day, but we won’t know how relevant it is until, say, the 2019 season.
Scout.com rated Boise State’s class No. 60 in the FBS—second among Group of 5 schools nationally behind No. 58 BYU. The Broncos’ list was a bit light on defensive lineman, though. The only signee was Aisa Kelemete out of Highland High in Pocatello (albeit a good one). Kelemete, who at one point decommitted and gave a verbal to Washington State, hung tough with the Broncos Tuesday night despite receiving an 11th-hour offer from USC. Harsin announced yesterday that the program has awarded a scholarship to walk-on defensive tackle Sonatane Lui, who played as a true freshman last season. Harsin feels so strongly about Lui’s development that he said the Broncos were comfortable going without a signee at that spot.
When Shea McClellin ventured from Chicken Dinner Road to Marsing High once upon a time, did he ever dream of playing in a Fiesta Bowl, much less a Super Bowl? What a ride for the former Boise State star. Now in his fifth NFL season, McClellin will be starting for New England as the Patriots gun for their fifth championship against Atlanta Sunday. The journey through college football was fabulously productive, but it took longer than usual. McClellin played his last game at Marsing in 2005, grayshirted at Boise State in 2006 as part of Chris Petersen’s first recruiting class, redshirted in 2007, and finally got on the field in 2008. One season later he was starring in the Fiesta Bowl against TCU, and a couple years after that he was a first-round NFL Draft pick. The Bears weren’t a good fit, though. The Pats are.
The Boise State men’s hoops team is back home Saturday night after its surprising road sweep of Wyoming and Colorado State. You’ve seen some accounts that say the Broncos are hosting “last place Utah State.” That doesn’t mean much in this season’s Mountain West. The Aggies drilled first-place Nevada 74-57 last night—that after snapping a four-game losing streak last Saturday with a 78-65 conquest of Fresno State, which had been on a roll to that point. Not to forget that Boise State is coming off back-to-back home defeats for the first time in five years after the losses to New Mexico and Nevada. The Broncos snuck by the Aggies 83-80 in their first meeting this season on December 28. Bottom line: Utah State isn’t last-place anymore, and Boise State is back in a tie for first with the Wolf Pack.
An en-fuego Nick Duncan would be a welcome sight for Boise State at this point. The Aussie’s senior year has hit a decidedly rough patch as the home stretch of his career approaches. Duncan has been sneaky good at times on defense, but his offense has deserted him. He’s 8-for-40 from three-point range over the past six games and has hit double figures only once in that span. The Broncos depend on Duncan for scoring punch, especially from beyond the arc. Is a breakout in the cards Saturday night in Taco Bell Arena? Meanwhile, Duncan is now without a fellow Australian in the Bronco fold. Tom Wilson, who just transferred to Boise State from SMU, is leaving town today to sign with an agent and explore pro opportunities, both Down Under and abroad.
Utah seems to have the Idaho Steelheads’ number this season. The Grizzlies handed the Steelheads their fourth straight loss last night in a 6-4 decision at CenturyLink Arena. It was Utah’s fifth win in six tries against Idaho this season. The Steelies took a 3-2 lead early in the second period on the first of two goals on the night by Andre Bouvet-Morrissette. Then came three unanswered tallies by the Grizzlies, effectively sealing it. Goaltender Branden Komm has been nearly unbeatable at CenturyLink this season, coming into the game 7-1-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average. But Utah got to him in the first of this three-game series.
Graham DeLaet has a track record at the Phoenix Open, which tees off this morning at TPC Scottsdale. The former Boise State star missed the cut there last year, but he tied for seventh in 2015 and tied for second in 2014. Maybe the twain will meet between DeLaet’s healing back and the confidence he has on this course. In an interview going into his 2017 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge last month, he said the ailing back is getting there. “It’s not quite a hundred per cent yet. I’ve spent a lot of the off season rehabbing more than golf,” he told GlobalNews.ca in Canada. “It’s starting to feel better. Now it’s kind of just a little bit of stiffness and soreness and just general achiness but that’s kind of been normal for me.” Troy Merritt is also in the Phoenix Open field, looking to make his first cut of the new year.
The significance of the Boise State women’s 51-46 win at Colorado State on New Year’s Eve was magnified last night when CSU topped the Broncos 60-53 in Taco Bell Arena. The Rams are leading the Mountain West for a reason. They limited Boise State to 16 first-half points and held the home team to 34 percent shooting from the field—and an anemic 4-for-27 from three-point range. The only Bronco to reach double figures was Joyce Harrell with 13 points.
There’s Emma Bates, whose legacy is in the books. There’s Allie Ostrander, who may redshirt the indoor track season. And there’s Brenna Peloquin, a budding star in her own right. Now, Sadi Henderson has established herself as the latest phenom in a line of standout women’s distance runners at Boise State. Henderson broke the school 800-meter record again last Saturday at the UW Invitational, running a 2:04.01. It was the second-best mark in Mountain West history and the second-fastest time in Division I this season. Who might be next? Perhaps Clare O’Brien, who ran the third-fastest 3,000-meters among collegiate athletes at the Seattle meet with a 9:21.76. Peloquin also recorded a personal best in the 3,000 at UW, a 9:23.33. Next up for the Broncos is the Jackson’s Invitational this weekend.
The setup for tomorrow night’s Beauty & The Beast event is not so great for wrestling—but big for gymnastics. The rebuilding Boise State wrestling team is a huge underdog in its Pac-12 match with Oregon State. But on the other side of Taco Bell Arena, the Bronco gymnasts should be in a tense battle with Southern Utah. The two teams are tied in the Division I rankings this week at No. 11.
This Day In Sports…February 2, 2014:
Seattle wins its first Super Bowl in shockingly dominating fashion, taking apart Denver, 43-8. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s third Super Bowl could hardly have started any worse, as a shotgun snap on the first play from scrimmage sailed over his right shoulder and into the end zone for a safety. One of Manning’s two interceptions was returned 69 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter by the game’s MVP, Seahawks linebacker Malcomb Smith. Seattle led 22-0 at halftime—then when Percy Harvin returned the second half kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, the rout was on.
(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.)