One of Idaho’s favorite football sons is on the ballot for the 2019 class in the College Football Hall of Fame again. The National Football Foundation announced its list of 76 players and six coaches from the FBS and 100 players and 32 coaches from the divisional ranks yesterday. And among the FBS nominees is Jake Plummer, the Capital High grad who used to play nerf football with his brothers on Hill Road before going on to star at Arizona State prior to his NFL career. This is Plummer’s third time on the ballot. The Snake burned his redshirt year early in his true freshman season at ASU. By the time he was a senior he was a first team All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year, leading the Sun Devils to an undefeated regular season and their last trip to the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, 1997. That has to count.
In what is sure to be a controversial nod, Dennis Erickson makes the nomination list for the first time in the coaches category. Erickson’s first four years as a head coach were spent at Idaho (where he made a one-year reappearance in 2006). He went to to coach at Wyoming , Washington State, Miami, Oregon State and Arizona State. Erickson notched the highest winning percentage in Miami history and is the only coach to win two national championships with the Hurricanes. The ‘Canes were placed on three years’ probation and docked 31 scholarships just after Erickson left, but he was never implicated in wrongdoing. His final game as a head coach came in the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl, a 56-24 ASU loss to Boise State in Kellen Moore’s final game as a Bronco.
The Boise State coaching staff missed having another nominee on the ballot by “that much.” Ashley Ambrose, who left the Broncos to become Colorado’s cornerbacks coach in January, is on the College Football Hall of Fame for the second consecutive year. Ambrose was an All-SWAC defensive back at Mississippi Valley State, capped by FCS All-America honors in 1991. Also in the FCS ranks, former Idaho State stars Ed “The Flea” Bell and Case deBruijn appear on the ballot for the third year. Bell was a 1969 All-America wide receiver for the Bengals and is still the school record-holder in career touchdown receptions with 30. deBruijn was an All-America punter for ISU, leading the FCS in that department in 1980 and 1981.
The third and final segment of the Oakland Raiders’ OTAs is underway, and one of the standouts to this point has been a rejuvenated Doug Martin. “My approach is just basically I’m a rookie again,” Martin told reporters. “I have to prove to the team and the players, coaches that I can be useful on this team.” This serves as the former Boise State star’s second chance in the NFL after being cut by Tampa Bay in February. “He’s been one of the hardest workers since we got here, hands down,” said quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders are hopeful now that Martin can serve as Marshawn Lynch’s running mate in the backfield. “Doug has really jumped out in this camp,” Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “His quickness, his ability to pick up the offense and what we’ve given him. That’s been very encouraging.
The Bucs never knew what they were going to get from Martin, their first-round draft pick in 2012. He is the only player currently on an NFL roster with two seasons of at least 1,400 yards rushing, topping that mark as a rookie and then again three years later in Tampa Bay. Then again, Martin is also the only active player with two seasons averaging fewer than three yards per carry with at least 100 attempts, doing that the past two years when he was hampered by injuries and a four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy. The best game of Martin’s career happened to be in Oakland during his rookie year, when he rushed for a franchise-record 251 yards and four touchdowns in a win over the Raiders. He’s at home there. In fact, it’s where he was born, and he grew up in Stockton.
Former Boise State tight end Jake Roh won’t be making it to training camp with Atlanta this summer, as the Falcons cut him yesterday. Roh was the Broncos’ only undrafted free agent to land a contract among last year’s seniors—Marcus Henry, a center who graduated two years ago, was signed by Seattle after the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp. Roh led the Broncos in touchdown receptions last season with nine.
The bane of 6th & Main struck new Boise State point guard Patrick Dembley pretty quickly. Just two days after arriving in Boise, Dembley was arrested early Sunday morning at the hub of city nightlife activity. According to the Boise Police Department, Dembley asked to borrow a man’s cellphone and didn’t return it, and the two started fighting. Dembley was charged with misdeameanor disturbing the peace and minor in consumption. The Boise State athletic department said that it “is aware of the situation and will handle appropriately per department policy.” There will no doubt be discipline, but it’s hard to imagine it affecting Dembley’s battle for the Broncos’ starting spot vacated by Lexus Williams. Dembley averaged 19.9 points per game last season for Iowa Western Community College.
Troy Merritt couldn’t duplicate the sterling rounds in Memphis a year ago that got him into the 2017 U.S. Open. The Boise State alum carded a one-under 71 in the first round of Sectional Qualifying yesterday but was taken out of contention by a 75 in the afternoon. Fellow former Bronco Kyle Mitsunaga began the day in Portland with a solid three-under 68 but faded to a second-round 77. And in Sectional Qualifying at Daly City outside San Francisco, Boise State product Nick Travers was six-over in his two rounds and did not advance.
The Colorado Rockies have never sent a first-round draft pick to the Boise Hawks. The next possibility is a pitcher named Ryan Rolison, a leftie from Ole Miss. Rolison was the No. 22 overall pick last night in the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft. Not many Hawks watchers hold out much hope of Rolison being assigned to the Hawks. But there have been some dandies in the past. The two highest-profile major league players ever to come through Boise are current Cubs stars Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, picked No. 2 and No. 4 overall by Chicago in the 2013 and 2014 MLB Drafts, respectively. That wasn’t very long ago (2014 was the Hawks’ final year of affiliation with the Cubs).
This Day In Sports…June 5, 2015:
Pat Venditte makes his big league debut for the Oakland A’s, and in the process becomes the first true ambidextrous pitcher to appear in the majors since the 19th century. Wearing a special six-fingered glove, Venditte pitched two innings in the A’s 4-2 loss to Boston and threw 16 pitches from the right side and 12 from the left. He allowed one hit and had one strikeout. Venditte has since “switch-pitched” for Toronto, Seattle and Philadelphia and is currently on the L.A. Dodgers staff.
(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.)