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Monday, August 6, 2018.
Jerry Kramer has now dropped one long-time badge of honor: “Best Player Not In The Pro Football Hall of Fame. The former Idaho Vandal and Green Bay Packer great is in. Kramer spent a lot of time at the podium Saturday night in Canton, OH, 18½ minutes in all. And why not? He had waited 44 years since he first became eligible to finally be inducted. A lot of his speech was ad-libbed from his prepared notes, and it had a purpose. Perhaps the turning point in his life came at Sandpoint High, when line coach Dusty Klein told him, “Son, you’ve got big hands, big feet—one of these days, you’ll grow into them. You’re going to be a helluva player one day.” Then Klein said to Kramer, “You can, if you will.” It took Kramer a while to understand, but he did. And he circled back to that at the end of his speech. “You can, if you will.”
Following up on coach Bryan Harsin’s biggest concern going into the Boise State’s 2018 season, I ran the numbers down on Sunday Sports Extra last night. They are stark. Cedrick Wilson took 139 career catches, 2,640 yards and 18 touchdowns with him to the Dallas Cowboys. A.J. Richardson, Sean Modster, Octavius Evans, CT Thomas and Akilian Butler have combined for 125 receptions, 1,455 yards and eight TDs. At tight end, the numbers are starker (if that’s a word). Jake Roh and Alec Dhaenens combined for 149 catches, 1,608 yards and 19 touchdowns in their careers. John Bates, Chase Blakley and Matt Pistone—as a group—have five career grabs for 75 yards. The tight ends are Project No. 1.
It didn’t take long for a revelation out of Boise State fall camp on Friday. KTVB’s Will Hall tweeted that Boise State’s newcomers and veterans were separated in practice—except for true freshmen Andrew Van Buren and Stefan Cobbs, who worked out with the vets. That will excite some folks in Bronco Nation. Van Buren, the highly-anticipated arrival at running back, has created some enthusiastic buzz by reporting at 6-0, 227 pounds. He has the look of a guy who will be using a year of eligibility this season. And maybe Cobbs, a 6-0, 177-pound wide receiver, has made a statement after offseason hype at wideout was focused on John Hightower and Khalil Shakir. Could the wide receiver spot be deeper than anyone knows? We shall see.
Defensively, it’ll be interesting to see the David Moa factor develop this fall. Moa spoke to the media Saturday for the first time since his arrest last September after a Downtown Boise altercation. His rather immediate and far-reaching apology was impressive. So what will a rejuvenated Moa mean on the field this year for the Broncos? The senior defensive tackle slipped to 3.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks last season after an All-Mountain West campaign in 2017 that produced 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 8.5 sacks. Harsin is quick to point out, however, that you have to read between the lines (literally). Moa was doubled-teamed a lot and spent a lot of the time occupying blockers last year, helping facilitate that big season from Curtis Weaver. “He caused a lot of disruption,” said Harsin.
After the way he started his career three years ago, who’d have thought Eagle’s Tanner Mangum would be in a battle for BYU’s starting quarterback job as a senior? But that’s the reality in Provo now as the Cougars’ fall camp is underway. Mangum, having been the signal-caller when the wheels fell off for BYU last fall, is having nothing handed to him this season. The four-way competition is now three-way, as junior Beau Hoge has been moved to running back. Mangum is competing against sophomore Joe Critchlow and true freshman Zach Wilson, the one-time Boise State commit. The Cougars revamped their offensive staff in the offseason. New quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick wants to decide on a starter by the end of next week—at the latest.
Could Donte Deayon be the next undrafted free agent out of Boise State to craft a productive NFL career? Even when he was on the New York Giants practice squad the past two years, there were those who smirked at his 5-9, 158-pound frame. Then the Giants activated him midseason last fall, and he logged 10 tackles in four games. Now there’s this from Giants.com: “It’s fair to say not only is Donte Deayon the front runner for the starting slot cornerback job, but he’s also been one of the most active players on defense overall. You can tell the former Boise State standout is hungry to make the final 53. While a few other corners have flashed, I don’t think any of those other players has been as consistent as Deayon practice to practice.” Two of the longest NFL careers from former Broncos were produced by undrafted players, Quintin Mikell and Chris Carr.
Troy Merritt has played in four majors in his pro career. Those chances are cherished, and Merritt is going to do everything he can to play in his fifth this week at the 100th PGA Championship, despite emergency surgery Friday at St. Alphonsus to remove a one-foot-long blood clot in his left arm. At home in Meridian last week, his arm had swelled to twice its size, and his wife Courtney had him get it checked at the Idaho Sports Medicine Institute at Boise State. Next was an ultrasound at St. Al’s, and Merritt was whisked into surgery. He flew to St. Louis yesterday in hopes of still playing this Thursday. Merritt won’t be well enough for practice rounds and will rely on his caddie, Wayne Birch, to scout the course, according to PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfitt.
There’s something about old Memorial Stadium in Everett. The Boise Hawks won there 7-6 in 10 innings last night, but it was just the third victory in their last 17 tries on the home field of the AquaSox. The Hawks are off until Thursday, when they return home to their own Memorial Stadium. And from the “oh by the way” department, I noticed that both studio analysts on the FoxSports1 MLB postgame show Saturday were former Boise Hawks. One was Dontrelle Willis, the D-Train, who was National League Rookie of the Year in 2003 and helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series that year. The other was Mark Sweeney, who was part of the Hawks’ first Northwest League championship in 1991 and went on to become the major league career leader in pinch-hit RBIs with 102.
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August 6, 1948, 70 years ago today: In London, 17-year-old Bob Mathias becomes the youngest decathlon winner in Olympic history just two months after graduating from high school—and only six weeks after competing in the grueling event for the first time. As a senior at Stanford in 1952, Mathias won the gold again at the Summer Olympics in Helsinki and retired from competition, having never been defeated.
(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.)