Bill Connelly’s college football feature at ESPN.com at the end of last week was “The most explosive college football players for 2021.” When I got to “Best deep ball catchers,” I saw Nevada’s Romeo Doubs at No. 5. I decided to scroll on. And there at No. 1 was Boise State’s Khalil Shakir. Here’s Connelly’s supporting data. “Stat line: 2.4 long targets per game, 53% catch rate, 40.2 yards per catch. Shakir was saddled with having to make most of his team’s big plays. But damned if he didn’t pull it off quite a bit.” The best example was Shakir’s two touchdown catches of 52 and 46 yards in a span of three offensive snaps against BYU last November. But true—Shakir needs a “big play supporting cast.” Shoutout to CT Thomas, Stefan Cobbs and some other yet-to-be-named wide receiver.
NO SNAKEBITE FOR THE BENGALS THIS TIME
The Battle of the Domes lived up to its billing Saturday at Holt Arena. Idaho State beat Idaho 24-22 in a game of twists and turns that was finally decided in the final two minutes. The Bengals jumped out to a 14-0 lead but found themselves trailing the Vandals 15-14 late in the third quarter. ISU regained control and led 24-15 when Wyoming transfer Tyler Vander Waal lofted a perfectly-placed 32-yard touchdown pass to Christian Fredrickson with 8½ minutes left in the game. The Bengals then got a fourth-down stop with 1:50 remaining to preserve it. Vander Waal threw for 398 yards and the one TD with two interceptions. Idaho had to go with No. 3 quarterback Nikhil Nayar, who couldn’t replicate the magic of the previous week. Nayar was just 11-of-34 for 130 yards with one touchdown and one pick.
SCOOP ‘N SCORE CITY
Hopes of an NAIA Playoff berth were on the line Saturday in LaGrande, and College of Idaho got defensive about it. Trailing Eastern Oregon 38-28 after the first play of the fourth quarter, C of I first answered with offense, and a Nick Calzaretta one-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to three points. On the ensuing Mountaineers drive, the Coyotes’ Tanner Sackman stripped quarterback Kai Quinn on a 4th-and-1, with Jacob Batubenga taking the recovery 42 yards for a TD. Two plays later, the Yotes did it again. Isaiah Abdul stripped Quinn and Keagan McCoy took the scoop 17 yards to the house for another touchdown, and C of I won it 49-38. Capital High grad Ryan Hibbs went 14-for-21 for 266 yards and three touchdowns in his first Yotes start, and Isaiah Veal caught five passes for 124 yards and two TDs.
DICKEY & RICE DISAGREE
If that had been my headline today, it would have been shameless clickbait. But you know what I’m talkin’ about. Boise State athletic director Jeremiah Dickey is partial to Baylor in tonight’s NCAA championship game because the Bears program is from whence he came three months ago. Dickey had been at Baylor for four years, and when he left, coach Scott Drew was putting the finishing touches on the Bears’ first run to a national title game in 73 years, an 18-year quest to erase one of the most sordid sports scandals in history left by his predecessor.
Boise State coach Leon Rice? Well, you know he was on Mark Few’s first staff at Gonzaga and was part of the rise of the Zags for 11 seasons before taking over the Broncos. Rice’s and Few’s families are still very close. How must Rice have felt when Jalen Suggs hit the buzzer-beating three-pointer for the ages Saturday night? The Bulldogs’ 93-90 overtime win over UCLA goes down as one of the great college basketball games of all-time.
SIMPSON SET AS A BRONCO SUPER-SENIOR
Former Boise High star Mandy Simpson is coming home to finish her college career as a grad transfer at Boise State. Simpson has played at Oklahoma the past four seasons. The 6-1 forward started 58 of 60 games for the Sooners as a sophomore and junior but saw her playing time decrease this season, getting single-digit minutes in eight of OU’s last nine contests. At Boise, Simpson averaged a double-double as a senior and was first-team all-state her final two seasons.
MERRITT ANSWERS THE BELL
It’s sports. You never speak too soon. And I kind of did Friday when talking about Troy Merritt. “It’s highly unlikely Merritt will play the weekend at the Valero Texas Open,” I said. “The Boise State product and Meridian resident struggled through a four-over 76 Thursday in the first round at TPC San Antonio.” Well, Merritt fired a 69 on Friday to make the cut and a 68 Saturday that included three birdies and an eagle over the final five holes. It didn’t last, as he carded a 73 on Sunday, but to pocket $36,036 after that start on Thursday is impressive.
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April 5, 2014: Quarterback Brett Rypien of Shadle Park High in Spokane gives his verbal commitment to Boise State. Rypien, the 2013 Offensive Player of the Year in the state of Washington, chose the Broncos over Washington State, where his uncle Mark starred before going on to become MVP of Super Bowl XXVI. The younger Rypien would burn his redshirt year in the third game of his true freshman season and would start for the rest of his career, throwing for a Mountain West record 13,581 yards and 90 touchdowns. He was a three-time first-team All-MW pick and was Offensive Player of the Year in the conference as a senior.
(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.)