I didn’t know this until Damon Amendolara mentioned it on his Tuesday morning show on KTIK, but quarterback Trey Lance was recruited by Boise State. Lance is the former North Dakota State star who’s expected to go anywhere between No. 3 and No. 14 in the QB derby during the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. Lance was set to go with the Bison on early signing day in 2017, but the Broncos came in at the 11th hour and told him they’d offer him a scholarship if he decides not to sign with NDSU. “Lance said he was on the phone with Boise State coaches for most of the school day,” according to Bison Illustrated magazine. But he sent his Letter of Intent to Fargo the next morning. Keep in mind this was a matter of days after Zach Wilson had decommitted from the Broncos. They ended up signing Riley Smith.
WILLIAMS HAS IT IN PERSPECTIVE
One takeaway from Avery Williams’ interview with Prater & The Ballgame on IST Monday: I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a more grounded player going into the NFL Draft. Williams said he has talked with at least 25 NFL teams, and he expects to play in the league. But, added the former Boise State star, “I don’t read into my grade. What’s a priority for me is I get to the right place, whether I’m drafted high or not at all.” Being a draft pick is not a lifetime goal for Williams. “My goal is to change the game and make an impact at the next level,” he said. That’s a great attitude. Maybe the undrafted free agent route is best for him. Instead of a seventh-round afterthought, Williams would have choices and could sign with a team that fits. One that needs a kick returner—and would even experiment with his offensive skills.
BRONCOS IN THE 21ST CENTURY DRAFT
Boise State expects to continue its 11-year streak of NFL Draft picks when the extravaganza unfolds Thursday through Saturday in Cleveland. Tight end John Bates is not a lock, but he’s a really good bet to go in the late rounds. And there’s the aforementioned Williams. The most amazing year during this run was 2012, when Boise State had a record six players selected. It really spoke to the talent that dominated the Kellen Moore era, when the Broncos went 50-3. And Moore wasn’t even chosen. The super six were Shea McClellin, Doug Martin, Tyrone Crawford, George Iloka, Billy Winn and Nate Potter. As you’ve probably heard, Boise State has the most draft picks of any Group of 5 program this century, with a total of 38.
THE SHOOTOUT COMES TO BASEBALL
Peeling a page out of the hockey playbook perhaps, the new iteration of the Pioneer League (which includes the Boise Hawks) will not play extra inning games this year. Instead, games tied at the end of regulation will be decided by a “Knock-Out,” a home run derby in which each team designates a hitter. It’s kind of like the shootout in hockey. Each guy will get five pitches from a batting practice hurler, and the team with the most homers wins. If those hitters can’t break the tie in the first round, it goes to sudden death.
In my mind, this is brilliant on many fronts. Baseball purists will hate it, of course. Just like the current rule that puts a man on second base to start extra innings in the majors. But only the most fervent fans hang around for extra innings in a minor league game. It goes back to why they are there—for a good time on a summer night. Most don’t care if the Hawks are playing the Ogden Raptors or the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. They’ll be fine with the Pioneer League, and they’ll be fine with the “Knock-Out” allowing them to get home at a decent hour. This could actually help prevent the mass exits we often see in the late innings at Memorial Stadium.
PEERING WARILY INTO THE PORTAL
Boise State men’s hoops hasn’t been punctured by the transfer portal as much as most of its Mountain West compadres. The Broncos have seen just two go that route so far, RayJ Dennis (who landed at Toledo) and the barely-used Donovan Ivory. But get a load of UNLV. The Rebels have had 10 players enter the portal, including their entire starting five from this past season. New coach Kevin Kruger has brought in six transfers already to replace them. New Mexico, after perhaps the most tumultuous hoops season in the program’s storied history, has had six players go the transfer route. Nevada has had five, with three transfers headed in. San Diego State and Colorado State are the only two conference teams that haven’t had a portal entry.
Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher is setting himself up for another big season. Dutcher has pulled in only one player out of the transfer portal. He’s a good one: Cal’s Matt Bradley, who was second-team All-Pac 12 this past season. “I think you can’t just fall in love with talent,” Dutcher told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “You have to fall in love with character.” Boise State coach Leon Rice subscribes to that philosophy—hence, there haven’t been any incoming transfers to Boise State yet. Of course, there’s not a lot of room on the current roster.
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April 28, 2014: The longest game in ECHL history goes nearly four full overtimes before the Idaho Steelheads defeat the Colorado Eagles, 3-2. It was Game 6 of the first-round series between the two teams in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, and the victory in the five-hour, 42-minute marathon sent the Steelheads into the National Conference semifinals. David de Kastrozza scored the game-winner well after midnight with 2:42 remaining in the fourth overtime at Boise’s CenturyLink Arena. Idaho and Colorado combined for an ECHL-record 151 shots on goal, and the Steelheads’ Josh Robinson tied the league mark with a staggering 85 saves.
(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.)