For several years at Boise State’s wide receiver position, it’s been about identifying that groups’s second wave. For several years at Boise State’s wide receiver position, it’s been about identifying that groups’s second wave in spring football and fall camp. This season looks to have more contenders than usual, and that’s a good thing after the non-starters at wideout combined for just 20 receptions last season. The first wave at this point includes Thomas Sperbeck, Chaz Anderson, and (I predict) JC transfer Cedrick Wilson. Sperbeck set a Bronco single-season record last year with 1,412 receiving yards and tied Matt Miller’s mark of 88 catches. It’s Anderson who needs to put up a big season as a senior. And at last Saturday’s scrimmage, he displayed improved hands, especially on a difficult 11-yard catch in traffic on a third down.
If Wilson is indeed the third starter, that leaves Sean Modster, A.J. Richardson, Akilian Butler, Austin Cottrell and Bryan Jefferson to battle for spots in the second wave. Modster had the best scrimmage of the five on the blue turf, making three catches for 33 yards. Richardson had the most receptions of the group last season with 10, getting more snaps down the stretch. Butler and Cottrell both saw the field last fall, with Cottrell best known for getting within four yards of the end zone on the final play of the November loss to New Mexico. Jefferson, the highly-touted Floridian, is coming off his redshirt year. No one has really taken charge. Yet.
Maybe last summer’s numbers told Joe Martarano something. Better yet, maybe last autumn’s numbers did. Whatever the case, the Fruitland High grad says he’s going to be all about Boise State football this year. One of the top prospects in the nation among third basemen coming out of high school, Martarano opted for Bronco football. But moonlighted in the Chicago Cubs organization the past two summers. In 2015, he appeared in just four games for the Cubs’ Northwest League affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds, and batted only .133. Conversely, Martarano was fifth among Bronco defenders in tackles last fall with 53 and produced some highlight reel plays at linebacker. He’s getting first-team reps during spring football.
San Diego State has endorsed a plan that would tear down Qualcomm Stadium (assuming the Chargers either get a downtown stadium built or—if not—bolt to Los Angeles). The Aztecs, who have been sharing Qualcomm since it was called Jack Murphy Stadium, want a more intimate venue and are in favor of a 40,000-seat facility. SDSU would also be able to use the land for student housing. Now they just have to figure out how they’d pay for it all.
There are more pinball numbers rolling out as Idaho spring football continues up north. The Vandals’ first scrimmage last Saturday in Lewiston was another marathon session that totaled 182 snaps. So that has to be taken into consideration when you evaluate quarterback Jake Luton’s 571 yards through the air and seven touchdown passes. Luton was 36-of-64, just 56 percent. But he did toss just one interception in all those attempts. Two of Luton’s targets topped 100 yards, Deon Watson with 199 and Callen Hightower with 180.
The past two years, the reborn College of Idaho football team was young by definition after starting from scratch in 2014. But 51 of the 80 players suiting up for spring football are juniors or seniors. You could almost call it a veteran group now. Not all the Coyotes are out at practice all the time, though. Eight current Yotes are also a part of the track team, so they’re splitting time and making it work. All-Frontier Conference wide receiver Tyler Higby, the Borah High grad, is a top sprinter and jumper for C of I.
Danny Henderson’s ties to Texas have taken him to Oklahoma—Oklahoma State, to be exact. The Statesman’s Dave Southorn reports that Cowboys basketball coach Brad Underwood has hired the Boise State assistant to join his staff. Henderson won 708 games as a high school coach in Texas before joining Leon Rice’s Bronco staff. Underwood was well aware of Henderson’s 25-year run of success in the Texas prep ranks, having led Stephen F. Austin to an 89-14 record in three seasons and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament last month.
Somehow, Philippe Desrosiers made it from Texas to South Dakota for last night’s Idaho Steelheads game after being returned to the team by the AHL’s Stars, and the Steelies are glad he did. Desrosiers stifled Rapid City 2-0, making 36 saves in his second career shutout to move Idaho back into first place in the ECHL’s West Division. But if the Steelheads are going to win the Division, they’re going to have to earn it now. Their final two games of the regular season are in CenturyLink Arena this weekend against the Missouri Mavericks, by far the best team in the league. And if the Steelies end up in a tie with Colorado, they’ll find themselves looking up at the Eagles due to the latter’s greater number of regulation and overtime wins.
The Masters doesn’t start until tomorrow, but—unlike Rory McIlroy—Troy Merritt is looking forward to today. The former Boise State star, playing in his first Masters, will play the annual Par 3 Contest at Augusta this afternoon. Merritt said last week on Idaho SportsTalk he can’t wait to get his two boys, Scout and Dodge, out there. McIlroy is skipping the Par-3 Contest, calling it “just too much hassle and it’s a bit of a distraction.” Merritt spent most of the past two weeks at home in Meridian. He told IST he did “a lot of short game work” in preparation for the Masters.
This Day In Sports…April 6, 2006, 10 years ago today:
Happier times for the Idaho Stampede. After eight seasons in the CBA, the Stampede announce a move to the NBA Development League. The CBA had struggled with franchise stability despite the best efforts of the then Boise-based circuit, and the D-League was poised for expansion, with the goal of eventually becoming a 30-team league with one-for-one franchise affiliation. The Dakota Wizards, Sioux Falls Skyforce, and expansion Colorado 14ers joined the Stampede in the CBA exodus.
(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.)