Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: Rypien’s undetermined place in Denver’s pecking order

Denver’s mandatory minicamp wraps up today, and as Russell Wilson learns the Broncos offense, former Boise State standout Brett Rypien has been getting his first look in competition with veteran Josh Johnson as Wilson’s backup. We know Denver wants Rypien around despite his limited action the past three years. The team signed him to a one-year contract tender an exclusive rights free agent in April worth $965,000. Rypien played all of three snaps last season and went 0-for-2 through the air. But he has a legit chance to begin the season on the 53-man roster as opposed to his customary spot on the practice squad. Sidenote: Former Boise State long snapper Daniel Cantrell has been trying out with Denver this week (anxious to see how that plays out for the Bishop Kelly grad).

N-I-L DONE RIGHT AS CAN BE

Boise State’s proactive stance on Name, Image, Likeness paid off Monday at the first NIL Awards, as the university won the “Best Institutional Program” honor. The Broncos were recognized for their “exceptional commitment to supporting their student-athletes in maximizing their NIL opportunities through a combination of education, resources, and industry-leading innovation. The runners-up? Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma State. It’s Boise State doing more with less again at a crossroads period in collegiate athletics. Regardless of how you feel about NIL and the ills it brings to the underbelly of college sports, it’s a reality. And the Broncos got out ahead of it. The way they’re doing it is the way it should be done.

D-LINE SHUFFLING AHEAD?

With the announcement that Shane Irwin is medically retiring from football, Boise State’s depth at defensive end takes a hit. The D-line overall is better-stocked this year, but Irwin takes 65 career tackles and nine sacks with him. The only other end listed on the Broncos’ roster is Andy Nwaoko, although JC transfer Deven Wright fills that bill, too. And one of the front-runners at the “edge” position, Isaiah Bagnah, Demitri Washington or George Tarlas, could conceivably slide over. Boise State is two-deep at the defensive tackle spot—at least—with Scott Matlock, Jackson Cravens, Divine Obichere, Herbert Gums, Cortez Hogans, Michael Callaham and Ahmed Hassanein. Irwin will be missed as much in the locker room as he was on the field. He was a glue guy with a rather ebullient personality.

LOSE SOME, WIN SOME

Boise State lost a 2022 junior college offensive line commit, Oluwafunto Akinshilo, to Iowa State last weekend, but the Broncos have filled that gap. Rick Moore, an O-lineman from Los Gatos, CA, and College of San Mateo, has signed a financial aid agreement and will join Boise State this summer The 6-6, 290-pound Moore played as a freshman at College of San Mateo—he has four years to use three seasons of eligibility. Also on the recruiting front, 2023 quarterback commit C.J. Tiller will be transferring for his senior year of high school football. Tiller is switching from Williams Field High in Gilbert, AZ, to Rancho Cucamonga High in California. Tiller’s father is a custom home designer and has been spending a lot of time in San Bernardino County, so the family decided to move there.

THE VANDALS PLUCK THE PORTAL

Idaho hit the transfer portal for a trifecta on Tuesday. The trio includes former Notre Dame linebacker Paul Moala, former USC edge rusher Juliano Falaniko and former South Dakota State quarterback J’Bore Gibbs. Moala, with two years of eligibility remaining, and Falaniko, with one, were veteran backups with the Fighting Irish and Trojans, repectively. Gibbs had an injury-plagued career with the Jackrabbits. But Vandals coach Jason Eck, Gibbs’ former offensive coordinator at South Dakota State, knows him well and wants him in Moscow. Gibbs has two years left (and maybe a third if he appeals for an injury redshirt).

RICE’S TRIUMPH IN TIJUANA

Wrapping up Boise State’s Leon Rice and his stay with Team USA at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Tijuana: there was never any doubt, as the U.S. went 6-0 and won the gold medal in the event for the sixth consecutive time. The USA squad beat Brazil 102-60 Sunday night to wrap it up. The Americans’ average margin of victory was 47½ points, and the closest game was a 28-point victory over Mexico. Team USA was led by Oregon signee Kel’el Ware and Villanova signee Cam Whitmore, both named to the all-tournament team.

A VICTORIOUS BRONCO IN BULGARIA

It’s been more than seven years since Derrick Marks commanded the court in what is now ExtraMile Arena as the 2015 Mountain West Player of the Year. Marks was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia 76ers and was set to play for them in the NBA Summer League, but he headed across the Atlantic before that happened. Marks has been in Europe ever since, playing for various teams in Italy, Turkey and Bulgaria. The 6-3 guard’s still got it at the age of 28, as he helped BC Balkan Botevgrad to the championship of Bulgaria’s National Basketball League. Marks scored eight points and five rebounds in the championship game. He averaged 13.3 points for the season for Balkan. Marks remains the fourth-leading scorer in Boise State history.

ANOTHER MAJOR FOR MERRITT

Troy Merritt is coming off his best finish ever in one of golf’s majors: a tie for 41st at last month’s PGA Championship. The former Boise State standout certainly feels he can do better as he tees off Thursday morning at the U.S. Open in Brookline, MA. This will be his 12th career major. If Merritt can make the cut, it’ll be the first time he’s done that in two majors in the same year. Making the cut has been his habit this season—he’s played the weekend in 15 of his 19 events. Merritt’s season earnings have topped $1.5 million, and he’s 61st in the FedExCup standings. Fellow former Bronco Ty Travis of Eagle is an alternate at the Open, hoping for someone to drop out by the wee hours on Thursday to make room for him.

WHAT A KICK BY KRISTIE SCHOFFIELD

Kristie Schoffield spent three-quarters of the race lurking on the biggest athletic day of her life. The Boise State middle-distance star, as you know, won the national title in the women’s 800-meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships last Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene. Trailing by a good 20 meters with 200 to go, Schoffield turned it on, winning the race by 10 meters while setting new Broncos and Mountain West records with a time of 2:01.09 The two coolest things in the aftermath: Scoffield interrupting the ESPN interview to run over and hug her mom, and her exclamation during the interview that “I wanted to win so bad!” Schoffield is the ninth Bronco to capture a national track and field championship and the first non-Power 5 runner to win the women’s 800 in 10 years.

DEPARTMENT OF REDUNDANCY DEPARTMENT

Broken record here, but how about a Boise State home outdoor track and field meet next year? We’ve missed our chance to see Schoffield during her Broncos career. What’s next? As I mentioned last month, this lack of home events in some Boise State sports creates a disconnect, even when those programs produce big stars. Distance running great Allie Ostrander may have run a few indoor events in Nampa, but to my knowledge, Bronco Nation never got to see the three-time 3,000-meter steeplechase national champion compete at an outdoor meet. At Dona Larsen Park, there have only been a few Border Clash meets against smaller schools (and none since 2019). It is time to change that.

2022 HAWKS ARE TRUDGING ALONG

The Boise Hawks returned home Tuesday night after a 2-4 road trip in Grand Junction, CO. The Hawks are now entertaining the Rocky Mountain Vibes, a Pioneer League member since 2019 from Colorado Springs, in a six-game set at Memorial Stadium. Game 1 saw Boise get zapped 11-3 by Rocky Mountain. The Hawks are slightly ahead of where they were last year at this time (only slightly). They had a 4-15 start in 2021 before winning the second half of the Pioneer League race and making the championship series. The Hawks are currently 5-13. By the way, they’ll play tonight as the Boise Papas Fritas as they participate in Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversion. It’s a tribute to the potato—Idaho’s state vegetable, y’know—and the state’s farming community.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by POOL SCOUTS…perfect pools, scout’s honor!

June 15, 1997, 25 years ago today: Ernie Els, who in 1994 had become the first Albertsons Boise Open alumnus to win one of golf’s majors, notches another with his second victory in the U.S. Open. Els trailed by six strokes after the first round at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. But the 27-year-old South African worked his way into contention and beat Colin Montgomerie by one stroke, helped by what he calls one of the shots of his life, a five-iron into Congressional’s treacherous 17th green in the final round.

(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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