Will Jeremy McNichols be the only Boise State player drafted a month from now? Does Tanner Vallejo have a chance to join him? As planned, McNichols will be missing at Boise State’s Pro Day today as NFL scouts run players through the rigmarole. Vallejo will be there, though. Are we missing any draft prospects? Uh, what about Thomas Sperbeck? This is a really big day for the Broncos’ career receiving yards leader. He’ll be evaluated for his size, his speed and his leaping ability (among other things). Does Sperbeck have enough in those categories? The guy certainly has enough savvy. He made some big, big catches after finally getting his chance in 2014 following the injury to Matt Miller. Let’s see: 3,601 yards receiving, 224 receptions, a Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP trophy. The draft is not impossible.
Pro Day begins this morning with measurements and testing in the vertical leap, broad jump and bench press. That will be followed by the on-field activity, including the 40-yard dash, shuttle sprints and position drills. Other 2016 Broncos giving it a go today are wide receiver Chaz Anderson, defensive end Sam McCaskill, linebacker Ben Weaver, offensive linemen Travis Averill and Mario Yakoo, defensive backs Raymond Ford, Jonathan Moxey and Chanceller James, and kicking specialists Tyler Rausa and Sean Wale. Four past Boise State players will also participate: Kelsey Young, Holden Huff, Terrell Johnson and Armand Nance. Young was in camp with the Washington Redskins last summer.
Today marks roughly the halfway point of spring football at College of Idaho. One player to watch is Darius-James Peterson, the sophomore from Bay Area power Marin Catholic who could be developing into full-time starter status for the Coyotes. Peterson actually led the Yotes in rushing last season with 848 yards and an impressive 17 touchdowns, a school record. If he takes the next step in the passing game, he’ll be as tough (or tougher) to stop as former C of I standout Teejay Gordon. Peterson threw just 92 times last year, completing 53 percent of his attempts for 665 yards and two TDs against five interceptions. The Yotes’ Purple & Gold Game is set for Friday, April 21.
In football, there’s a roster of more than 100 players. In basketball, it’s generally 15. It’s theoretically easier to build something quickly in hoops than on the gridiron, and South Carolina coach Frank Martin has done that with the Gamecocks’ run to their first Final Four on Saturday. Just three seasons ago Boise State was putting up one of its most impressive wins ever over a power-conference team, drilling South Carolina 80-54 at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. The Gamecocks’ leading scorer this season, Sindarious Thornwell, played 18 minutes and scored one point against the Broncos. Another of this year’s key South Carolina players was also on that team—Duane Notice netted 13 points that night. All the while, Anthony Drmic was pouring in 30 points for the Broncos. Just look at the Gamecocks now.
“Will the last one out the door at New Mexico please…” Well, it’s certainly not at that point, but four players with eligibility remaining have now left the Lobos hoops program, three of whom started more than half of UNM’s games this season. The latest to transfer is freshman point guard Jalen Harris, who had 18 starts and averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 assists per game. Star guard Elijah Brown had already announced plans to leave New Mexico. He was followed by wing Sam Logwood, who was key in beating Boise State with 16 points in Taco Bell Arena in January. There has to be some dissatisfaction with coach Craig Neal, doesn’t there? The Broncos are not immune to attrition, as seldom-used guard Cameron Oluyitan has decided to transfer.
With a 2-1 win over first-place Colorado last night, the Idaho Steelheads have made the playoffs for the 20th consecutive year. And with the Detroit Red Wings’ 25-year run as a Stanley Cup Playoffs participant having come to an end, the Steelheads now own the longest postseason streak in North American hockey. Goalie Landon Bow was the story for the Steelies, stopping 31 of the 32 Eagles shots he faced. Bow was reassigned to the Steelheads Friday by Texas of the AHL. He didn’t make any appearances during the nine days he spent with the Stars, but he’s started all three games since his return—and he’s won all three, allowing a total of four goals.
There’s only one local teeing it up on the PGA Tour this week. Troy Merritt, coming off only his second made cut of the new year and with a week of rest, is set for the Shell Houston Open today. This will be the fourth time Merritt has played the Houston event—he’s played through the weekend once, back in 2011 when he tied for 72nd. The former Boise State star is currently 128th in FedExCup standings and has earned $278,169 this season.
It’s the final week of spring training, and all eyes are on the world champion Chicago Cubs (still sounds weird). The Cubs will be very different at the top of the order, as former Boise Hawk Kyle Schwarber takes the leadoff spot vacated by the departed Dexter Fowler. To say Schwarber is unorthodox as a leadoff guy is an understatement. Manager Joe Maddon didn’t get to experiment with that concept last year, as the 6-foot, 235-pound leftfielder tore his ACL in just the third game of the season. Schwarber did, of course, make a celebrated return in the World Series, when he went 7-for-17. He’s having a serviceable spring, batting .275 with five home runs, two of them yesterday against the Oakland A’s.
How many fingers are crossed on the Boise State campus for the Bronco women’s gymnastics team? BSU’s seeding, No. 2 in the NCAA Lincoln Regional Saturday, means it’s projected as one of the 12 teams that’ll make the NCAA Championships. Do the math—there are six regionals this weekend. In tennis today, the Boise State men host coach Greg Patton’s alma mater, UC Santa Barbara. The Broncos are home versus Pepperdine Saturday afternoon.
This Day In Sports…March 30, 1987, 30 years ago today:
One of the NCAA Tournament all-timers, as Keith Smart hits a soft jumper with five seconds left to lift Indiana past Syracuse, 74-73, for the national championship. That gave inimitable coach Bobby Knight his third national championship, and it came six years to the day after his second, capped by a 63-50 win over North Carolina in the title game. What’s more, it was on March 30, 1940, that Indiana won its first national crown.
(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.)