This is going to be an interesting NFL Draft for the Mountain West. There are probably 10 players from the conference that have a legitimate chance to go this weekend, but as many as half of them could be on the bubble. The only sure-thing picks, despite some of the projections for Boise State’s Tanner Vallejo, seem to be Jeremy McNichols, San Diego State’s Damontae Kazee, Nico Siragusa and Donnel Pumphrey, and Wyoming’s Brian Hill. The conference record for fewest players selected in the draft is six back in 2003. It’s almost a certainty that the Mountain West will go without a pick in the first two rounds for the first time in nine years. There weren’t any MW players chosen in the first round last night, needless to say.
Leadership was a somewhat hidden quality with McNichols at Boise State. He’s been trying to sell that side of his persona in the ramp-up to the draft. “They will be getting a guy that wants to win, a guy who wants to make everyone around them better,” McNichols said in a story at BoltsFromTheBlue.com, an L.A. Chargers fan site. “I want to be explosive, I want to contribute on special teams, I want to be a complete player and I want to wear that ‘C’ on my jersey someday.” That attitude no doubt played well for McNichols in interviews with NFL clubs. Now we’ll see if it’s enough to help him sneak into the third round tonight. He’s projected to go tomorrow.
If I had a sixth or seventh-round selection I could roll the dice on, I’d take Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette, who’s ranked down in the 300’s among this year’s prospects. Robinette, who’s 6-3, 220 pounds, is remembered locally (not fondly) for a 67-yard touchdown catch that broke Boise State’s back in the Falcon’s 37-30 win on the blue turf in 2015. Last year Robinette had all three—yes, there were three—Air Force pass receptions, covering 45 yards, in the Academy’s 27-20 win over the Broncos in Colorado Springs. He’s just a really good receiver who needs an opportunity to fully develop his craft. And Robinette would have a chance to be a pro right away, thanks to the change in policy at the Department of Defense allowing athletes to delay fulfilling their military commitments upon graduation.
One college football rule change that may have gone unnoticed this spring: the ban on the “Shea McClellin move” extends to college now. The NFL had earlier banned the former Boise State star’s trademark vault at the line of scrimmage, the one last seen in New England’s win over Atlanta in the Super Bowl. The new college rule states: “No defensive player who runs forward from beyond the neutral zone may leap or hurdle in an obvious attempt to block a field goal or try.” Before this change, a player was flagged only if he landed on another player. The NCAA rules committee said it noticed players being injured through that maneuver. At the very least, the committee thought, “Good idea, NFL.”
Is it just me, or has there been a lot more offseason player movement than usual this year in hoops? The latest leaves a hole inside at San Diego State. After announcing earlier he was departing the Aztecs program, sophomore forward Zylan Cheatham has settled on Arizona State as his landing spot. Cheatham will have to sit out next season, and there’s a chance he’ll have only one year of eligibility remaining beyond that. He used a redshirt year in 2014-15 after an ankle injury sidelined him and may or may not get that season back.
There’s another reason players leave programs—they declare for the NBA Draft. There have been 182 players in that department this year, including Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison and Idaho Victor Sanders. There are only 60 draft picks to be had in June. With that in mind, we’ll see how many of those who didn’t sign agents will withdraw from the draft by the May 24 deadline.
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans features a new team format this year—the first one on the PGA Tour in 36 years—with both of Boise State’s tour players partnered up. Troy Merritt and Robert Streb combined for a three-under 69 yesterday and are tied for 11th. Graham DeLaet and fellow Canadian David Hearn are tied for 33rd after shooting a one-under 71. Following the today’s round, there will be a cut to the low 35 teams and ties at the 35th position.
In terms of weather, it’s been our spring of discontent. The bad news is rain—and more rain. The good news is temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. As much as we’d like to look at the extended forecast and see “8” as that first digit, “5” and “6” is helping the Treasure Valley avert a flood disaster. It’s against that backdrop that Boise State hosts the Mountain West Men’s Tennis Championships beginning today (the Broncos face top-seeded Utah State this evening). If matches have to be moved indoors at some point, it is what it is. I should mention that Seattle has had almost four times the amount of precipitation that we have since October 1 (44 inches versus 12). There’s that. The women’s conference tournament opened yesterday in Las Vegas, and sixth-seeded Boise State was upset 4-0 by 11th-seeded New Mexico.
Boise State has just one home meet every year in outdoor track and field, the Border Clash today and tomorrow at Dona Larsen Park. That means it’s the only chance locally to see the Broncos’ star distance runners, including Sadi Henderson and Allie Ostrander. This will, in fact, be the first time Ostrander has ever competed in Boise. Henderson will be running the 1500-meters in this meet, while Ostrander will be shooting for an NCAA West Region qualifying time in the 5,000-meters tomorrow morning. Henderson has already met the standard in the 800 and 1500, while Ostrander has hit the mark in the 1500 and the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
This Day In Sports…April 28, 2007, 10 years ago today:
Gerald Alexander kicks off Boise State’s largest NFL Draft class yet when he’s selected in the second round (61st overall) by the Detroit Lions, then the fourth-highest pick ever out of BSU. The Lions even traded up to get the star safety. The following day, wide receiver Legedu Naanee would go to the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round, linebacker Korey Hall to the Green Bay Packers in the sixth, and tight end Derek Schouman to the Buffalo Bills in the seventh. Hall and Schouman were both drafted as fullbacks.
(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.)