The possible landing spots for Leighton Vander Esch in the NFL Draft this week have run the gamut. The three teams mentioned most are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. But Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald suggests you consider the Dolphins. Beasley doesn’t understand why there’s all this linebacker love for Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and not as much for Vander Esch. If all the quarterbacks go early Thursday night, Beasley could see Miami trade down from the No. 11 overall pick and try to corral LVE. “Make no mistake,” writes Beasley, “Vander Esch is most certainly on the Dolphins’ radar, even if they have kept that interest quiet.”
Not sure where this quote came from, but Beasley rolled with it. A classicly confident Vander Esch says: “Pop on the film. You see dudes that are running to the ball and giving the effort they give and being relentless and just the type of person they are. I feel like it tells a lot about a person. You can break it up into divisions if you want to do that, but that doesn’t mean anything to me. If the guy can play football, he can play football.” Some people may be drinking the “neck injury Kool-Aid,” Sports Illustrated’s Peter King contends. King has the Pats picking Vander Esch at No. 31, but he says, “Some teams have marked him down because of his neck issues, and there’s a strong chance the Patriots will be too worried about it to pick him here.” Well, it only takes one team to be all in—and I think there’s more than one.
The most successful basketball coach in College of Idaho history in winning percentage is leaving the Coyotes for an NCAA Division I assistant’s position. Scott Garson will join the staff at Santa Clara after guiding the Yotes to a 129-42 record over the past five seasons, including two 30-win campaigns, three Cascade Conference titles, four trips to the NAIA Division II Championships and a berth in the national semifinals last month. C of I was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country this past season. I talked to Garson at the Idaho Youth Sports Commission dinner and auction Saturday night—he was particularly proud of reaching the 30-win plateau. He’s been a game-changer for the Caldwell school. The Yotes will announce a successor this morning.
Here’s a “where are they now?” on Trent Johnson, the former Boise State hoops standout and longtime college coach. Johnson was the keynote speaker at the 4th annual IYSC event Saturday night. Following his four-year playing career that included the Broncos’ first NCAA Tournament appearance, he parlayed humble beginnings as sophomore coach at Boise High into top jobs at Nevada, Stanford, LSU and TCU, including Sweet 16 berths with the Wolf Pack and the Cardinal.
Well, after being cut loose by TCU, he spent last season as a one-year assistant to David Padgett, who had to hold Louisville together in the wake of the Rick Pitino mess. “I did it for David,” said Johnson, whose son, Terry, played with Padgett at Reno High. He met his wife, Jackie, in Boise (she’s a Borah High grad) and they’ve been married 37 years. Johnson still lives in Fort Worth, TX, but he’s in no hurry to coach again and spends his time as a doting grandpa to three grandchildren.
The last time Boise State saw Koby McEwen, he was scoring 14 points and pulling down a game-high eight rebounds in Utah State’s 78-75 upset of the Broncos in the Mountain West Tournament. Now, the Aggies have a new coach, Craig Smith, and they don’t have McEwen. The 6-4 guard announced just days after Smith was introduced as the fired Tim Duryea’s replacement that he was transferring from USU. McEwen has decided where he’s going now, settling on Marquette. He was the Mountain West Freshman of the Year two seasons ago, and this past season he averaged 15.6 points per game and led the Aggies in rebounds and assists.
Wouldn’t it be something if the Idaho Steelheads-Allen Americans first-round Kelly Cup Playoff series went seven games? It’s still a longshot, but it’s a ton more feasible than it was going into the weekend. The Steelheads, having won two straight games after digging themselves a 3-0 hole, get the Americans on home ice for Game 6 tonight in CenturyLink Arena. Coach Neil Graham has to decide who to start between the pipes, but at this point, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Philippe Desrosiers made 68 saves in the two wins at Allen, including 21 in the third period Saturday night when the Steelies’ season could easily have ended. As stellar as he was at the end of the regular season, Tomas Sholl has struggled in the playoffs.
Over the weekend, David Bote and Gleybor Torres became the first two former Boise Hawks to make their major league debuts this season—and the 129th and 130th Hawks alums, respectively, to make the bigs. Bote’s first appearance was Saturday at Colorado, when he started at third base for the Cubs (Kris Bryant was playing rightfield). Bote went 1-for-3 that day and scored his first run Sunday after replacing Bryant when the Chicago star was hit in the helmet by a pitch. Bote played the 2013 season in Boise and batted .250 with six home runs and 31 runs batted in. Torres made his debut Sunday, starting at second base for the Yankees and going 0-for-4 against Toronto. Last night the 21-year-old Venezuelan collected his first major league hit versus Minnesota. Torres played seven games for Boise in 2014.
This Day In Sports…April 24, 1994:
San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson becomes the fourth player in NBA history (after Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and David Thompson) to score 70 points in a game as he goes for 71 in a win over the Clippers at the L.A. Sports Arena. The explosion enabled “The Admiral” to pass Shaquille O’Neal on the final day of the regular season for the NBA scoring title, breaking a seven-year run by the temporarily-retired Michael Jordan.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)