The writing was already on the wall as far as the Preseason All-Mountain West team goes. But the watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award that goes to the nation’s best quarterback was released Tuesday, and you can guess who wasn’t on it. The chip only grows for Boise State’s Hank Bachmeier. The Mountain West QBs who are among the 35 candidates: Fresno State’s Jake Haener and Utah State’s Logan Bonner. BYU’s Jalen Hall is also on the list. Do you notice a theme here? Bachmeier and the Broncos outdueled all three of them last year—the Cougars and Bulldogs were ranked, and the Aggies were, too, at the end of the season. There’s a lot of pressure on whoever is the starting quarterback at Boise State. Bachmeier has surely felt it. Hopefully this year it will fuel him.
We may never know why John Ojukwu was chosen over Bachmeier to represent the Boise State offense at Mountain West Media Days in Las Vegas this week. Nothing against Ojukwu. He’s an articulate senior out of Boise High and an All-Mountain West performer. Maybe that’s where it starts. Bachmeier has not been an All-Mountain West pick—not even honorable mention. Injuries had something to do with that when he was a freshman and sophomore, but not as much last year. When he roared out of the gate with 407 yards passing in his collegiate debut to lead the Broncos past Florida State in 2019, Bachmeier was called “Hurricane Hank.” That’s still his career-high. This internal snub, if we can call it that, might be the best thing that could happen to him.
THERE IS ONE WATCH LIST GUY
We’ll likely see in the preseason all-conference picks from Mountain West Media Days that Boise State’s George Holani is in prove-it mode. Holani hasn’t had a healthy season since he rushed for 1,014 yards as a true freshman. But the Maxwell Football Club still recognizes that 2019 version of Holani and has named him to the watch list for this year’s Maxwell Award that goes to the best player in college football. Holani started seven of the Broncos’ 12 games last season and appeared in two others. He rushed for 569 yards, but 403 of them came in the final four games of the year (with a trio of 100-yard games). The All-Mountain West squads that count come at the end of the season, of course, and I hereby declare Holani as a candidate.
DALMAS WILL BE ON A WATCH LIST (OR TWO)
The bar has been raised (crossbar maybe) for Boise State kicker Jonah Dalmas, who’s been named a third-team Preseason All-American by Athlon Sports. The Rocky Mountain High grad and former soccer star came out of nowhere in 2020, and by the end of last season he was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist after booting a school-record 26 field goals and making first-team All-Mountain West. And Dalmas was clutch in the Broncos’ two road wins over Top 25 teams, going 4-for-4 at both BYU and Fresno State. Can Dalmas make it in the NFL? He most certainly can. It’s all about range, and Dalmas proved he has it in the 2020 Mountain West championship game when he hit two field goals of 50 yards-plus against San Jose State.
RIVALS AND NON-RIVALS
No more divisions in Mountain West football means just two guaranteed opponents for each school over the next three years—but more games against all the other conference teams. Boise State’s two guaranteed opponents: Utah State and New Mexico. The Aggies make sense, and the Lobos don’t. But hey, somebody’s gotta play UNM twice, right? There’s a bit of a competitive imbalance here. I liked this from longtime local sports scribe Dave Southorn: “Boise State is 29-2 against Utah State and New Mexico since 1998. Food’s good in Albuquerque, though.” Okay, there’s still some good food in Logan. All this could be rendered null and void if there’s another shift on the realignment carousel, but this is it for the time being.
KIGAB GOES FROM PINE TO PRIME
NBA Las Vegas Summer League wrap: Abu Kigab collected pine for Toronto—until the Raptors very last game. Then the former Boise State standout went off, scoring 15 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. Is that a large enough sample size to get to training camp? Kigab was pretty impressive. He was the only ex-Bronco other than Derrick Alston Jr. to hit double figures even once in Vegas. Justinian Jessup is probably disappointed, as he didn’t play in the Golden State Warriors’ final three games. You can surmise it was because the Warriors’ next-gen “Big Three” were on the court together for the first time. The Warriors wanted to get a long look at Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman playing as a unit. But zero minutes? Bummer.
EARLY EXIT FOR ‘ONCE A BRONCO’
It was one-and-done Monday for Once A Bronco at The Basketball Tournament in Albuquerque. The crew made up largely of Boise State alums fell to Team Challenge ALS, a conglomeration of players with a lot of TBT experience, 87-71. The Once A Bronco squad was led by Kevin Allen, who played sparingly during his one season at Boise State. Allen scored 20, while Thomas Bropleh added 14, Derrick Marks 12 and Alex Hobbs 11. Ex-Fresno State Bulldog Marvelle Harris topped the winners with 28 points.
CURRENT BRONCOS IN THE SUMMER GRIND
Summer conditioning continues for Boise State men’s basketball, and the entire 2022-23 roster (as we now know it) is in town participating except for four-star recruit Sada Nganga, who’s playing for the Angola national team. Notably, Texas Tech transfer Chibuzo Agbo and Detroit Mercy transfer Mohammed Sylla are in Boise, getting their Bronco culture orientation. Boise State sophomore-to-be Tyson Degenhart says the summer sessions are about bonding—just like a year ago. “It’s all about working hard and building up that chemistry in open gym,” said the reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Year. “Chemistry doesn’t happen overnight.” Degenhart adds that the Broncos feel like no one’s giving them a chance to repeat as champions. “We’re underdogs,” he said. “We like it.”
HUGHES AWAITS HIS TRAVEL PLANS
At times like this we wish the Boise Hawks were still affiliated with the Colorado Rockies. But there’s still a great possible destination for Gabriel Hughes. Monday night, the former Rocky Mountain High pitcher became one of the highest major league draft picks ever out of the state of Idaho when he was taken 10th overall by the Rockies. Hughes overachieved his MLB.com prospect ranking, which was No. 26. Hughes, of course, went on to star at Gonzaga. As a Zag, the 6-4, 220-pounder went 8-3 this season with a 3.21 ERA and was ninth in the country in strikeouts with 138. Hughes was a second-team All-American. True, he won’t ever be pitching for his hometown Hawks. But the Rockies current short-season Class A affiliate now happens to be the Spokane Indians.
HAWKS HOPE FOR A HAPPIER SECOND HALF
The second half of the Pioneer League schedule began Tuesday night, with every team’s record reverting back to 0-0. The Boise Hawks opened a six-game series against the Grand Junction Rockies. There’s been no score posted yet on the Hawks website. The first half was tough—Boise finished it at 17-31, posting a team ERA of 6.19 after losing five of seven games in a home series against the Idaho Falls Chukars.
MERRITT’S MINNESOTA STOMPING GROUNDS
This is a big week for Troy Merritt, as he returns to his old home for the 3M Open. Merritt played high school golf in the Minneapolis suburb of Spring Lake Park, then played at Winona State for two years before transferring to Boise State. Maybe friendly confines will help him get back on a roll. Merritt finished in a tie for 30th last week at the Scottish Open after missing the cut at the Travelers Championship and the U.S. Open. Now Merritt tests the layout at TPC Twin Cities.
ON AND OFF THE TRACK
Boise State’s Kristie Schoffield, the reigning 800-meter national champion, was named the Mountain West Female Athlete of the Year last week. Schoffield clocked a conference record, school record and personal-record time of 2:01.09 at the NCAA Championships in Eugene last month. Broncos athletes have won the Mountain West honor eight times in 11 years. Schoffield joins Avery Williams, Allie Ostrander, Emma Bates and Kurt Felix as winners of the award. Ostrander won it three times and Bates twice. Meanwhile, Bates finished seventh in the marathon Sunday at the World Track & Field Championships in Eugene. Bates, who was the 2018 U.S. champion in the marathon, was the second-fastest American at Hayward Field. The new Boise State Athletic Hall of Famer ran a personal best 2:23.34.
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July 20, 2014: A few weeks after he considered giving up professional golf during what had been a tough season, veteran Steve Wheatcroft wins the 25th annual Albertsons Boise Open on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. Wheatcroft and Steven Alker had each gone a record 24-under par at the end of regulation before Wheatcroft dropped in a 10-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole. The victory certainly changed his outlook—vaulting him all the way from 89th to 10th on the Web.com Tour money list and assuring him of a PGA Tour card for the following season.
(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.)