Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: A destination for the Broncos’ ‘wide-back?’

Boise State’s Khalil Shakir has said he admires Davante Adams and wants to model his game after Cooper Kupp. But Shakir admits he has simililarities to Deebo Samuel, San Francisco’s hybrid wide receiver-slash-running back. The 49ers use him in both spots, which is reportedly one of the reasons he wants a trade. But Niners GM John Lynch says, “I can’t envision a scenario where we let him walk.” Let’s say Samuel is traded, though, leaving San Francisco looking for a junior version of Deebo. Looking at the NFL Draft order this week, the 49ers have a pick late in the second round (probably too early) and two late in the third round. As a Niners fan, I’d love to see this shake out.

You may remember that Shakir’s first touch as a Bronco in the 2018 season opener at Troy was on a fly sweep (albeit an 11-yard loss). He would occasionally line up as a tailback during that freshman year. Shakir’s first career touchdown was scored that way at Wyoming. In his Boise State career, he had 71 carries for 414 yards and four TDs, averaging 5.8 yards per attempt. Shak could still be a “wide-back” in the Deebo mold.


There have been some agonizing NFL Drafts for Bronco Nation in years past. How about 2009 when Fiesta Bowl hero Ian Johnson lasted all seven rounds and went undrafted? Or when Kellen Moore wasn’t selected 10 years ago despite being the winningest quarterback in college football history? I can guarantee you that Shakir won’t meet the same fate this week in Las Vegas, even if this year’s extraordinarily deep wide receiver class pushes him down to the fourth or even fifth round. Boise State’s streak with players drafted will extend to 13 consecutive years when Shakir’s name is called.


If you go by various mock drafts, as many as 11 Mountain West players could be selected in the draft. What’s happening with the two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year from Nevada, quarterback Carson Strong?’s Tom Pelissero projects Strong as a fourth or fifth-round pick—and it’s not hard to figure out why. Writes Pelissero: “(The 6-4) Strong put up big numbers as a redshirt junior last season (70 percent completion rate for 4,175 yards and 36 touchdowns) despite playing barely six months after a major knee surgery, severely limiting his mobility. ‘He’s got a huge arm, but he can’t move and he’s got those questions about his leg,’ an AFC quarterbacks coach said. ‘He’s more of a traditional pocket passer, which is just hard; you’ve got to be perfect if you’re going to be that guy.’”


Let’s do a little transfer portal update here. Even with Boise State reserve quarterbacks Andy Peters and Colton FitzGerald going into the portal in the past week, it’s been a remarkably quiet place for the Broncos. It’s been almost three weeks since Boise State’s spring game, and those are the only two new guys to enter. The most prominent players to head there following last season have been quarterback Jack Sears and running back Andrew Van Buren, and here in late April, neither has found a new home. Now, will the Broncos pull anybody out of the portal? Running back and linebacker are two possible positions of need. But B.J. Rains of Bronco Nation News notes that at the end of spring ball, the Broncos were still over the 85-scholarship limit.


Usually the “network designation” for a particular college football game comes first, with the network designating that the game move for TV purposes. It’s the other way around for the Boise State-UTEP game, as it’s now scheduled for Friday, September 23, with no network designation yet. The change was requested by Conference USA, which may be looking at it as a national showcase game. The Sun Bowl in El Paso isn’t what it used to be, though. The last time the Broncos played there, in 2004, UTEP drew more than 33,000. The Miners’ average last year was 16,800.


John Rothstein of CBS Sports reports that the field is filled for the 2022 Myrtle Beach Invitational, which is this year’s potential resume-builder for Boise State. The eighth and final team will be Murray State, which went 31-3 last season. The Racers’ third and final loss came in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, part of the historic St. Peter’s run from No. 15 seed to the Elite Eight. Also joining the defending Mountain West champions in the South Carolina tournament are Loyola Chicago, Charlotte, Colorado, UMass, Texas A&M and Tulsa. It was against the Golden Hurricane, of course, that Boise State began its school-record 14-game winning streak last December.


Catching up today on former Boise State standout Justinian Jessup in Australia. Jessup has had another solid season Down Under in the NBL, and his 24-point performance this past Sunday led the Illawarra Hawks past rival Sydney and into the NBL Playoffs semifinals, where the two teams will meet again beginning Friday night. Jessup averaged 13.5 points per game during the regular season, shooting 45 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range. Jessup started the season as property of the Golden State Warriors—we assume he still is. His stats from Sunday’s game were posted by “the official Twitter account of the Golden State Warriors Subreddit.” The Warriors sent Jessup to Australia for professional development.


The Idaho Vandals will engage its largest alumni fan base Saturday—the Treasure Valley—when they take their spring game to Eagle High School. And a few Vandals are pretty excited about it (former Eagle Mustangs Brett and Derek Tommasini, for example). Rocky Mountain grad Nick Romano will be back in the valley, too. This will be an interesting year for Romano, the junior running back. You hear his name a lot, but he has only 26 career carries for 194 yards and three touchdowns at Idaho. Romano’s still important on returns—he was the first-team All-Big Sky kick returner as a freshman in 2019. As a senior at Rocky, he was the Idaho 5A Player of the Year, rushing for 2,211 yards and 32 touchdowns while leading the Grizzlies to the state title.


College Idaho spring football wrapped up last Saturday with the Purple & Gold Game at Simplot Stadium. Many eyes were on No. 30, not because he’s somebody new or because he has anything to prove. But Dylan Martinez is said to be poised for a beast of a year at linebacker. The senior out of Mountain View High was phenomenal last season, leading the Coyotes with 109 tackles, 10 for loss, with four fumble recoveries. Let’s just say there are schools at higher levels that wish they had Martinez. The Yotes quarterback situation is to be determined, as starter Ryan Hibbs and challenger Ryan Blokker were limited this spring.


When you go see a Boise Hawks game this season, your chances of getting home at a decent hour are pretty good. The Hawks, and all of the Pioneer League, will introduce pitch clocks next month (assuming supply chain issues don’t delay them). They’re already being utilized in minor league baseball this spring, and the average game time has decreased by 20 minutes. Hawks general manager Mike Van Hise says the Pioneer League rules will be slightly different. When the bases are empty, pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw—with a man on base it’ll be 17. If the pitcher fails to throw on time, it’s a ball. Hitters must be in batter’s box within eight seconds of the expiration of the pitcher’s time to pitch, and if time expires it is a strike. A lot less scratching, adjusting and spitting.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by FRANZ WITTE NURSERY…the flamingos are flyin’ in Nampa!

April 27, 1956: One of the great sports careers of all time comes to an end, when Rocky Marciano retires as the only unbeaten heavyweight boxing champion in history. His record was 49-0 with 43 knockouts—11 in the first round. Marciano won the crown from Jersey Joe Walcott in 1952 and successfully defended his title six times. In the tournament to decide Marciano’s successor, Floyd Patterson knocks out Archie Moore to claim the heavyweight championship.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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