Gridiron Dreams glues past greats together

There’s an inordinate number of former Boise State stars in town this week. There’s an inordinate number of former Boise State stars in town this week. You may have seen them in conjunction with public appearances, like the launch of balloting for the Broncos’ “30-Year All-Blue” team. But one of those former BSU standouts in particular has his stamp on it. The anchor for the week’s series of festivities is Alex Guerrero’s seventh annual Gridiron Dreams Football Academy beginning today with a combine at East Junior High. “We’re going to coach from a player’s perspective,” Guerrero said recently on KTIK’s Morning Grind.

Guerrero has assembled an all-star cast to conduct the camp. For example, the three amigos who executed the famous hook-and-lateral at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Jared Zabransky, Drisan James and Jerard Rabb, are all instructors this weekend. So are some of their teammates, including Ian Johnson, Legedu Naanee and Marty Tadman. Three prominent NFL Broncos are on tap, too: actual Bronco Matt Paradis of Denver, the Dallas Cowboys’ Tyrone Crawford, and the New Orleans Saints’ Kyle Wilson. Among the other notables: D.J. Harper, Austin Pettis, Gabe Linehan and Jarrell Root. Also, there’s former Bishop Kelly and Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins, who was a graduate assistant at Ohio State two seasons ago before becoming the offensive coordinator at Westview High School in the Portland area last year.

Summer conditioning and player-run practices have always at the core of Boise State’s new century run that has produced a 186-35 record since 1999. Usually it takes awhile during summer sessions for the weather to become punishing. Not so this weekend. That means the ordeal of running of Albertsons Stadium’s upper deck, a tradition established during Jeff Pitman’s first tour of duty as BSU strength and conditioning coach, will be in mid-summer form. Pitman, who earned a scholarship after walking on to the Bronco squad out of Melba in 1988, must be grinning at the thought.

This is when on-field communication is developed—when players get to know each others’ tendencies. Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien is already solid in that respect with wide receivers Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson, but it’s go-time for the candidates at the No. 3 wideout spot. The top three prospects would probably be Cedrick Wilson, A.J. Richardson and Sean Modster. All had noteworthy performances in the Blue & Orange Game eight weeks ago—Wilson as a clutch third-down guy, Richardson as a possession receiver, and Modster as a playmaker. Rypien has spent the least amount of time with Wilson, so the summer is crucial. Again, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Wilson starting alongside Sperbeck and Anderson this season.

Troy Merritt’s round couldn’t have been more erratic yesterday at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, OH. After an up-week last week, this is looking like a down-week—as in, missing the cut. The former Boise State star absorbed five bogeys (including consecutive ones on the final three holes) and two double-bogeys on the way to a three-over 75 on Jack Nicklaus’ home course, leaving him in a tie for 107th.

Three former Boise Hawks get starts on the mound today: John Lackey for the Cubs against the Diamondbacks, Ricky Nolasco for the Twins versus the Rays, and Chris Rusin for the Rockies against the Padres. Lackey, now 5-2 with a 3.16 ERA, had an impressive May. The righty posted a 2-1 record with a 2.09 ERA and 40 strikeouts. He has four starts this season in which he has gone at least six innings and given up one or zero runs. Nolasco, 2-3 with a bloated 5.28 ERA, is coming off a strong start, as he limited the Mariners to two runs over six innings in a win at Safeco Field last Sunday. He also showed his best average fastball velocity of the season. Rusin is trying to find consistency, coming in at 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA.

Also on the diamond, Lewis-Clark State goes for its 18th NAIA World Series championship—and its second straight—tonight against Faulkner University of Alabama at Harris Field in Lewiston. And congratulations to Eagle High’s Bradie Fillmore, who was named Idaho’s Gatorade Player of the Year for the second straight season in girls softball. On the mound, the Cal-bound Fillmore was 13-0, and at the plate she batted .641 and slugged 14 home runs. There hasn’t been an update to the MaxPreps rankings since May 24, so it looks like the Mustangs finish the season as the No. 1 team in the nation.

This weekend probably marks the first time the Boise Nationals Soccer Club has been publicly known as the “Boise Nationals Timbers.” This spring, the Nationals became part of the Portland Timbers’ “adidas Timbers Alliance,” a strategic partnership with elite local youth clubs in the Timbers’ development territory. And tomorrow they’ll be unofficial hosts of the USL game between Portland’s Timbers 2 club and the Swope Park Rangers of Kansas City at Rocky Mountain High. The Boise Nationals Timbers won eight championships at the Idaho State Cup on Memorial Day.

Tomorrow night’s contest will be a USL regular season game—it’s a counter in the standings. T-2 comes in at 4-6-1, while the Rangers are 3-4-2. The USL, by the way, has become a massive league, as there are now 29 teams between the Eastern and Western Conferences. Two Idaho players come home as part of the T-2 roster, Eagle’s Blake Bodily and Pocatello’s Terrell Lowe of Pocatello. Both Bodily and Lowe joined the Portland Timbers’ Academy system in 2013.

This Day In Sports…June 3, 1932:

It’s one of baseball’s more remarkable and lesser-known feats. The New York Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri became the only major leaguer ever to hit for a “natural grand cycle,” as—in order—he had a single, double, triple, and home run, with the homer being a grand slam. It came in a 20-13 slugfest win over the Philadelphia A’s, but it was overshadowed by Lou Gehrig becoming the first player of the 20th century to hit four homers in a single game.

(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.)