NFL rookie minicamps either have convened or are about to, and they’re make-or-break to those just in for tryouts. NFL rookie minicamps either have convened or are about to this weekend. They’re important to new draft picks, more important to undrafted free agents who have signed contracts, and make-or-break to those just in for tryouts. Boise State’s make-or-break guy is defensive lineman Tyler Horn, who will try to land a training camp invite as a tight end with the Kansas City Chiefs. What will Horn look like? The only reference we have is his one career interception for the Broncos against Wyoming last October, when he swiped a swing pass and rumbled 45 yards to the Cowboys’ one-yard line. Horn almost looked like a tight end on that play. He’s been taking a crash course on the position since realizing to might be a good idea.
Cornerback Donte Deayon with the New York Giants and linebacker Tyler Gray with the Miami Dolphins are the two former Broncos with undrafted free agent contracts. Two guys in particular can serve as inspiration for them, especially Deayon. They’re defensive backs who fought their way onto rosters after going undrafted, and they put together two of the longest careers of any Boise State product in the NFL. Quintin Mikell had 107 starts over 11 seasons, with one Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl to his credit. Chris Carr played nine NFL seasons and logged seven career interceptions. Boise State’s undrafted free agents to make the show this decade are Richie Brockel, Jeron Johnson and Chase Baker.
It ain’t over yet for Kellen Moore. In a Dallas radio interview yesterday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked if he expects the former Boise State great to be the Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback behind Tony Romo. “Yes,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “He has got the instincts. He’s got the anticipation. He knows what’s going on. He gives me and us a great feeling about basically improving.” Moore finally got his shot in the final three games of the 2015 season, starting the last two. He completed 61 of 104 passes (58.7 percent) for 779 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. “Obviously those interceptions are not something you can live with,” Jones said. “But some of the stuff he was doing was just pretty obvious that the team was responding and he was able to move the team.”
Two other notes on former Broncos: Rees Odhiambo has signed a four-year contract with Seattle after being drafted in the third round by the Seahawks last Friday. Odhiambo’s deal is reportedly worth up to $3.362 million. And wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes has signed a deal with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. The 5-6 dynamo is Boise State’s second-leading all-time receiver with 233 catches.
The quirky lists from Mark Schlabach’s 2016 Way-Too-Early Top 25 continue this week with “the future head coach on each top 25 team.” At No. 25 Boise State, it’s Thomas Sperbeck. “Another player with coaching pedigree is Sperbeck,” says the capsule. “Not only was he a first-team all-conference pick at receiver (setting Boise State’s single-season record for receiving yards with 1,412), he’s also the son of Marshall Sperbeck, a longtime junior college coach who went on to coach at Sacramento State from 2007-13.” Not to forget that Marshall Sperbeck was the starting quarterback at Nevada 35 years ago.
If it’s possible for a horse to have poise, that trait will come in handy tomorrow at the Kentucky Derby. The field at Churchill Downs is packed, as usual, with 20 entries, and former Boisean Gary Stevens will charge out of the No. 17 post aboard Mor Spirit. His trainer is Bob Baffert, who guided American Pharoah’s run to the Triple Crown last year. Baffert’s a Hall of Famer, Stevens is a Hall of Famer, and you get the impression that both feel Mor Spirit has poise. The colt has never finished worse than second in seven career starts. “He’s deceivingly quick,” Stevens told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Everybody thinks he’s a plodder. He’s not. He’s got some gears.”
Graham DeLaet is back on the course at the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship after two weeks off. The former Boise State star shot a one-under 71 yesterday and is tied for 30th going into the second round in Charlotte. Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge is in danger of missing the cut after trudging through a six-bogey day and carding a four-over 76. Aldridge will need an other-worldly round today.
And then there were two—two former Idaho Steelheads in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jay Beagle has been a longtime mainstay of the Washington Capitals, while Steve Oleksy was called up by the Pittsburgh Penguins after his AHL season in Wilkes-Barre ended. They’re playing against each other in the NHL’s second round (although Oleksy hasn’t been active yet). Still, that’s not bad for Oleksy, a guy who was about to retire from hockey in 2010 before Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal called midseason when he needed an extra defenseman. Beagle has three goals in 10 postseason games for Washington after a dandy in the Caps’ 3-2 overtime loss Wednesday night.
Luke Mylymok, the son of former Steelheads star Jeremy Mylymok and himself a one-time Junior Steelhead, was drafted in the fourth round of the Western Hockey League’s bantam draft yesterday. The younger Mylymok was selected by the WHL’s Victoria Royals, formerly known as the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings (ownership dropped out of the ECHL five years ago to buy a WHL team). The WHL is a primary feeder league for the NHL, so this is a big deal for a player with Boise hockey ties. After the Junior Steelheads, Mylymok played for the Florida Junior Panthers, and most recently the Notre Dame Hounds in Saskatchewan. Dad Jeremy’s No. 4 is one of only three jerseys ever retired by the Steelheads (the others are Cal Ingraham’s No. 22 and Marty Flichel’s No. 16).
The College of Idaho team baseball begins play at the NAIA West Grouping Championships in Vancouver, BC, facing host British Columbia this afternoon in the first round. Of the five teams in the field, UBC has already made the NAIA Championships Opening Round, and Lewis-Clark State is already in the NAIA World Series as the host. The Coyotes will be competing with Corban and Marymount for a second Opening Round berth. Elsewhere, NNU is wrapping up the regular season in Nampa against Concordia. The Crusaders swept Concordia in a doubleheader yesterday, 10-8 and 2-1. The two teams play another twin bill today at noon at Vail Field.
This Day In Sports…May 6, 1931:
A day I make a note of every year—the day the most complete player in baseball history was born. Willie Mays is 85 years old today. Mays broke in as a 20-year-old rookie with the New York Giants in 1951, made the most famous catch in World Series history in 1954, and had the best years of his career in San Francisco after the Giants moved West. The “Say Hey Kid” ended up with 660 career home runs, currently fifth on the all-time list behind godson Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez (two of which have questionable credentials).
(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.)