Three of the teams agent Ron Slavin said were most interested in Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland were on the board among the final six picks of the NFL Draft’s first round Thursday night. Seattle went with a linebacker, and Miami and Minnesota both opted for cornerbacks. Six offensive tackles were chosen in the first round, but, Cleveland now becomes a Day 2 selection. The Dolphins also have the seventh pick of the second round tonight, while Jacksonville and the Browns, the other two teams Slavin said are targeting Cleveland, are two and three spots behind, respectively. If all goes according to plan, fellow former Bronco Curtis Weaver will also be taken in the second or third round tonight.
DRAFT NIGHT NOTEBOOK
The only way to look at it: Oregon was a much better team the past two years than the one that got racked by Boise State in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl (it was 38-24, and it wasn’t that close). Justin Herbert sure didn’t look good that day, but he improved measurably the next two seasons. The result was the No. 6 overall pick in the draft last night—he was selected by the L.A. Chargers, and he’s immediately tabbed as Philip Rivers’ heir-apparent as the Chargers move into the new SoFi Stadium. On the Mountain West front, Jordan Love was taken 26th overall by Green Bay. Let’s see…Aaron Rodgers is 36 years old. Love needs to serve an apprenticeship, and Green Bay’s a good place to do it.
NOW FOR THE WEEKEND
Boise State wide receiver John Hightower has wildly divergent draft evaluations. Hightower could be scooped up early on Saturday—or not at all. Judging by his tweet Wednesday, Hightower is expecting to hear his name called. “Been a long road to get to this week,” he said. “Can’t take my foot off the gas now! Next chapter will be my best chapter!” Broncos fans look at Hightower’s last chapter as spectacular. He was explosive in the open and made circus catches in traffic as he amassed 82 receptions for 1,447 yards and 14 touchdowns in his two-year Boise State career. The two sentences at NFL.com that sum things up: 1) “Tall, spindly deep threat with a good feel for speed variance.” And 2) “The lack of size and strength could be a continuing issue against press and with contested catches.”
MOUNTAIN WEST STADIUM DOINGS
It ain’t over yet for Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. UNLV, with has been mired in a dispute with the Raiders over scheduling in the new Allegiant Stadium, is going to have to play Louisiana Tech in its old home on September 5 (if the game isn’t delayed). The Rebels are still planning on opening their season August 29 against Cal in the Raiders’ shiny new palace, but another non-conference game September 12 versus Arizona State may also have to go to Sam Boyd. UNLV booked three nonconference games for 2020 at the $2 billion stadium, but only one was guaranteed. Beginning next year, the Rebels are promised two non-conference games at Allegiant Stadium, but other non-conference games must be cleared by the Raiders as part of the joint-use agreement, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
There are plans on the board to replace Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. The current facility holds 50,000, but the “working number” for the new venue is 35,000. Considering the Rainbow Warriors’ sagging attendance—and the prospect that it’ll get worse in the wake of the pandemic—35,000 is plenty. The new facility is scheduled to debut in September, 2023. On another UH note, University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins has cast some doubt on the Warriors’ opener this year (on August 29). Said Robbins in a radio interview Wednesday, “It seems as though if we do play any football in the fall, it is going to be delayed.”
STOUT BASKETBALL BLOODLINES AT NNU
If it’s “like mother-like son,” there are good times ahead for Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball. Jaden Carter, a 6-8 wing from Eagle High, has signed with the Nighthawks and will be eligible this fall. Carter averaged 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game for the Mustangs this past season. His mom, Staci-Kirk Carter, was one of the best women’s hoops players in NNU history, helping the then-Crusaders to the 1997 NAIA Division II national championship. Staci is NNU’s career scoring leader and is also tops in three-pointers, games started and minutes played.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
April 23, 1954: (EDITOR’S NOTE—You many have noticed that I ran the April 24 item on Thursday. So, I’m running the April 23 item today!) Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves hits his first major league home run, off Vic Raschi of the Cardinals. Aaron, of course, would go on to break Babe Ruth’s all-time record with 755 homers in his career, which lasted through 1975. The drama now is: will Aaron’s record endure if Barry Bonds’ 756th home run ball sits in Cooperstown with an asterisk on it? Bonds has kind of held the record since 2007, when he finished with 762 homers.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)