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SCOTT SLANT: The Jay-Train’s looking for a station

Presented by MERIDIAN AUTO RANCH OUTLET.
Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

This certainly has nothing to do with any past feelings David Carr harbors toward Boise State. But the former Fresno State and NFL quarterback, now an analyst for NFL.com, predicts that Jay Ajayi will still be looking for a new team through Week 1 of the season in September. The former Boise State star, of course, saw his 2018 campaign in Philadelphia end just a month in due to a torn ACL. And with training camp just a few weeks away, Ajayi remains unsigned. Kyle Crabbe of USA Today mentions Ajayi’s displeasure with the pass-heavy Philly offense the first part of last season, but Carr feels Ajayi is still out there due to health reasons, not attitude. And he still needs time to rehab his knee. Once Ajayi is totally healthy, he (and his agent) can survey the NFL scene and determine where the need for a running back is the greatest.

NEW RESIDENTS ON CAMPUS

They’re heeeeere. The holiday weekend served as move-in time for Boise State’s 2019 recruiting class (a few of the players were already on campus). That means Californian George Holani is here. And Declo’s Keegan Duncan is here. And the Broncos’ running back sweepstakes are underway. In a perfect world, these guys will push incumbents Robert Mahone and Andrew Van Buren, and at least one jewel will be left standing when Boise State opens the season against Florida State in Jacksonville. First, Holani and Duncan need a crash course on Boise State’s culture and playbook during player-run practices this summer. No doubt they’ve been cramming already, but there’s nothing like putting it to work on the blue turf.

DIGGING DEEPER INTO WEAVER’S STAT SHEET

Curtis Weaver’s long 4th of July weekend started off nicely. Weaver earned his second preseason All-America honor, this time a second-team nod from Sporting News. Weaver was named to Athlon Sports’ fourth team All-America squad last month. Boise State’s star STUD end/linebacker ranked second in the Mountain West and 20th in the nation with 9.5 sacks last season. And did you know? In two seasons, Weaver has already racked up 20.5 sacks, tied for sixth on the Bronco career list with former NFL first-round draft pick (and Chicken Dinner Road resident) Shea McClellin. With three more sacks, Weaver will jump all the way up to third all-time at Boise State. But he’d need another 34 sacks to reach career leader Erik Helgeson. Even if Weaver stays for his senior season next year, that would be a ton.

GRAHAM BRANCHES OUT ON STEELIES’ COACHING TREE

Derek Laxdal was one of the most successful coaches in Idaho Steelheads history, and he still knows what makes the team tick. Laxdal, who won a Kelly Cup with Idaho in 2007, is now the coach of the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars and the next rung up the ladder from Boise. And he has hired Steelheads coach Neil Graham as an assistant. Graham, still only 34 years old, has been at the Steelies’ helm the past four seasons, compiling a regular-season record of 166-91-31 with ECHL playoff bids each year. He was a Steelheads assistant under Brad Ralph for three seasons prior—in fact, he was a player-coach in 2012-13. The Texas gig is a natural progression for Graham.

THEY CALL HIM “VOGEY”

There are six former Boise Hawks on the rosters for tonight’s All-Star Game in Cleveland. The Chicago Cubs contribute Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, Gleyber Torres was a late add from the Yankees, and David Dahl comes from the Colorado Rockies. But the most intriguing Hawks alum is Seattle first baseman and designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach, the Mariners’ only representative. Vogelbach, the popular (in the Northwest, anyway) 6-foot, 250-pound slugger, has hit 21 home runs this season, yet he wasn’t chosen for last night’s Home Run Derby. The theory is that he just doesn’t have enough of a national brand. He would if the M’s were winning. Vogelbach’s homers are known in Seattle as “Vogel-bombs.”

PARRA PARES DOWN HIS ERA EVEN FURTHER

If Frederis Parra ever makes the majors, his magnificent first month with the Boise Hawks will be magnified. In his fifth start of the season, Parra pitched six scoreless innings at Hillsboro Monday night and—again—didn’t allow a run. The Dominican righthander has not yielded an earned run in his past 28 1/3 innings and has lowered his ERA to an amazing 0.58. This is a pivotal point for Parra, who’s in his eighth season in the minors. He’s 24 years old. That’s up there for a Northwest League player. But Parra is peaking. He’s also 4-0 now, as the Hawks beat the Hops 3-0 (one night after being roughed up 11-0 by Hillsboro).

HUTCH AND HIS PEOPLE SKILLS

Chandler Hutchison, back on the court after a five-month rehab of a broken toe, is starting to draw on his leadership qualities at the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League. Hutchison was mic’d up during the Bulls’ win over the L.A. Lakers entry last Friday and was heard communicating well on defense and pumping up teammates throughout. The ESPN crew was impressed, noting Hutchison as a guy “who was probably very well-coached in college.” On the floor, Hutchison scored 15 points with three rebounds against the Lakers. He’s reportedly on a 20-minute limit during summer league. In fact, he was held out of Sunday night’s game against Cleveland as the Bulls auditioned non-roster players. Monday night in a 109-72 rout at the hands of New Orleans, Hutchison had eight points and four boards in 23 minutes.

BRONCOS’ 2018-19 POTHOLE IS BEHIND THEM

Chris Murray of Nevada Sports Net, one of the Mountain West’s most respected beat writers, opens the door on the 2019-20 men’s basketball season. Murray divides the conference into tiers. The first tier is the favorite, Utah State. The second consists of other title contenders, and yes, he includes Boise State. “The Broncos had finished in the top three of the MW for four consecutive seasons prior to last year when they went 7-11 in conference play to finish tied for seventh,” notes Murray. “Boise State returns its top four scorers and will add former four-star recruit Abu Kigab, an Oregon transfer, before MW play begins. The Broncos should return to the second tier after getting lots of bad breaks last season.” Ah, you remember: Boise State was 1-9 in games decided by one possession or in overtime.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…keeping you and your family on the road.

July 9, 2016: Serena Williams ties Steffi Graf’s Open-era career record with her 22nd championship in a Grand Slam tournament, a straight-sets victory over Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon. It was the seventh title at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for the 34-year-old Williams, who hit the milestone 14 years and one day after she achieved the world’s No. 1 ranking for the first time. The following day, Great Britain’s Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon in a straight-sets sweep over Milos Raonic.

(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.)

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