A lot of the experts thought it was over. The starting running back’s job in Miami was Jay Ajayi’s to lose. Now it is indeed Ajayi’s to lose—to Arian Foster. The former Houston Texans standout inked a one-year deal with the Dolphins after working out with the team yesterday. Miami figures it needs options, even if Foster is about to turn 30, is coming off surgery to repair a torn Achilles’ tendon, and has been hurt two of the last three years. In fact, his maladies since becoming the Texans’ starter in 2010 include a torn meniscus, multiple hamstring injuries, a knee injury, a back injury that required surgery, a minor groin injury, a major groin injury and the torn Achilles.
This will be good for Ajayi. The challenge (and maybe the Dolphins’ doubts) will sharpen his resolve as he tries to show what he can do when he’s 100 percent. In nine games backing up Lamar Miller last year—and coming off a broken rib that shelved him for the first half of the season—Ajayi rushed for 187 yards and a touchdown and had 11 receptions for 90 yards. Writes ESPN’s James Walker: “The Dolphins’ tailback competition will be interesting in training camp because Ajayi had a four-month head start over Foster to learn a new offense during the offseason program. But Foster has tons more experience over Ajayi.”
Boise State has picked up a sixth commitment for its 2016 recruiting class, and this one is the first in-state verbal of the group. Defensive end Aisa Kelemete of Highland High in Pocatello is aboard, and he brings speed and aggressiveness, two traits that have been common on the Broncos’ D-line edge. Kelemete is 6-4, 225 pounds (he played linebacker for the Rams as a freshman and sophomore), so he’ll have some appointments to set with Boise State strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman. According to Scout.com, Kelemete also had FBS offers from Washington State and Idaho.
The point has been made that Boise State hasn’t fared that well over the years in recruiting from the renowned Highland stable. But they’ve scored well when successful. Two candidates for the Broncos’ 30-Year All-Blue Team came out of Highland: linebacker Bryan Johnson and wide receiver T.J. Acree. We went into detail on Johnson when voting for the ‘backers was conducted six weeks ago. The wideouts happen to be on the clock now (final day), and Acree is on the ballot because of his All-WAC honor in 2004. He was ESPN’s Offensive Player of the Game in Boise State’s win over TCU in the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl. Acree’s most dramatic catch came during his senior year—a 44-yarder from Jared Zabransky that proved to be the winning touchdown in a 28-27 win over BYU.
Word is that Boise State safety Darreon Jackson is going to make his exit from the program in the wake of a one-semester suspension following a university sexual assault investigation. Linebacker Marquis Hendrix was already gone following his expulsion in the same case. JuCo Football Forer, a junior college scouting service, reports that Jackson and Hendrix will transfer to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. Hopes had been high for Jackson, who stonewalled tight end Matt Pistone and running back Devan Demas in probably the two biggest hits of April’s Blue & Orange Game.
College of Idaho’s incoming recruiting class has ballooned to 52 with the signing of 13 more athletes to letters of intent. Coyotes media relations director and radio voice Mike Safford points out that’s not unusual at the small college level. “It should give us a roster of 115-130 once the season starts—helps with depth and scout teams (we had 140 on our roster when I was at Pacific Lutheran),” said Safford. The latest additions include four Idahoans, led by All-State cornerback Moses Nyirakomini of Rocky Mountain and All-State safety Austin Parks of Grangeville. Also in the group are former Caldwell safety Jacob Swain and former Borah linebacker Jace Forrey.
About a week and a half ahead of the five-year anniversary of his firing at Boise State, Gene Bleymaier will be helping orchestrate a landmark ceremony in his current position as San Jose State athletic director. On August 1, the school will announce it’s reviving its storied men’s track and field program, which was disbanded in 1988. The ceremony will include three notable and controversial figures from the past team, when it was known as “Speed City,” Olympic stars Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Lee Evans, as well as Harry Edwards, the former San Jose State professor and civil rights leader who’s now a famed sports sociologist at Cal.
The press conference will be held by a campus statue that commemorates Smith’s and Carlos’ historic black-gloved salute on the medal podium at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. Smith had won the gold medal and Carlos the bronze in the 200 meters, while Evans won the gold in the 400 meters. Evans wore a Black Panther-type beret on the medal stand. Smith and Carlos were kicked out of the Olympics for using their platform to make a political statement.
The Boise Hawks almost finished a dramatic ninth-inning rally with a win at Salem-Keizer last night. Almost. The Hawks scored three times in the ninth to trim the Volcanoes’ lead to 8-7 and had the bases loaded with two outs, but that’s where it ended. It was a rollercoaster contest. Alec Kenilvort came on in the third inning with a 4-3 lead and threw three innings of perfect relief with five strikeouts for Boise. That effort was wasted when Mike Bunal and Jared Gesell were nicked in a five-run Volcano seventh (although the Hawks nearly overcame it). The Hawks’ Daniel Suero rapped RBI singles in both the first and second innings, and Garrett Hampson went 3-for-5 to up his season average to .352, second in the Northwest League.
As the MLB trade deadline approaches, a former Boise Hawk is hovering at the top of the list. Rich Hill is in the midst of a remarkable comeback season for a struggling team, the Oakland A’s. Hill is considered the best left-handed starter available. He was the American League Pitcher of the Month in May before a five-week stint on the disabled list. According to the San Jose Mercury-News, the Marlins and Rangers have joined a list of Hill suitors that includes the Red Sox (his former team), Blue Jays, Orioles, Royals, Dodgers and Tigers. For the season, he is 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA. Sunday’s game was a weird one, though. Hill left his start against Toronto after only five pitches to the Blue Jays’ leadoff batter due to a blister on his finger.
This Day In Sports…July 19, 1976, 40 years ago today:
At the Summer Games in Montreal, diminutive 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci, at 4-11 and weighing 80 pounds, becomes the first gymnast in Olympic history to receive a perfect 10.0 score. Then the amazing Romanian recorded six more in the competition. Her score after the uneven parallel bars appeared as 1.00, since the scoreboard wasn’t equipped to handle a four-digit number.
(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.)