SCOTT SLANT: Weaver starts over in South Beach

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Monday, April 27, 2020.

For Bronco Nation, it had to be the most agonizing NFL Draft wait since Kellen Moore went undrafted eight years ago. We can only imagine how it felt deep down inside for Curtis Weaver. It was a precipitous plunge, from a projected first-round pick this winter to Miami’s fifth-round selection on the third day of the draft. It’s hard to fathom that it had anything to do with his interviews at the NFL combine. Weaver had to ace those. His performance in Indianapolis wasn’t first-round stuff, but it was fine.

Maybe his agent, Ron Slavin, was right. After a high-ankle sprain against New Mexico last November, Weaver’s production dropped. He was able to make it back for the next game and logged a sack at Utah State. But Weaver went sackless in the Broncos’ final three games. Did NFL teams read too much into what they saw on tape? The loss of individual team workouts due to the coronavirus prevented Weaver from showing what he could do when 100 percent healthy.

After Weaver went undrafted on Day 2, KTIK’s Mike Prater tweeted, “Curtis Weaver made a mistake leaving Boise State. You don’t leave early to go on the final day of the NFL Draft. It could work out down the road. Decision could have been more personal than football. But right now…a mistake.” And who responded? None other than former Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien. “This is so false Mike,” said Rypien. “He declared based off a draft grade he got after the season. He’s falling for reasons out of his control and it doesn’t really matter he’s going to make an impact immediately wherever he goes.” Former Bronco Alex Guerrero offered good-naturedly to debate Prater on Idaho SportsTalk today. Will it happen?

THE TRADITION AT TACKLE

Boise State’s left tackle legacy rolled on with the selection of Ezra Cleveland in the second round by Minnesota Friday night. Cleveland, the 13th-highest pick in Broncos history, is the sixth straight Boise State multi-year starter at left tackle to be drafted into the NFL. The run started with Daryn Colledge in 2006. Then came Ryan Clady, Nate Potter, Charles Leno Jr. and Rees Odhiambo. Alexander Mattison sounds genuinely excited to have Cleveland blocking for him. He told Sports Illustrated he was screaming so loud the neighbors probably heard him when Cleveland was picked. Then Mattison got to scream again when David Moa was signed as a free agent. Are the Vikings the new Dallas Cowboys in Boise State lore? Not yet. But it will be fun when the Cowboys visit Minnesota, which is scheduled sometime this season.

HIGHTOWER WHEELS HIS WAY TO PHILLY

Two years ago, Boise State picked up a 6-1 junior college transfer wide receiver. The Broncos hoped John Hightower might compensate for the departed 6-2 Cedrick Wilson, who was drafted in the sixth round by Dallas. Hightower’s two seasons weren’t quite as spectacular as Wilson’s, but he clearly had more speed, and on Saturday he was drafted higher than his crafty counterpart, going in the fifth round to Philadelphia. It was tough for the Eagles to ignore that, among other things, Hightower scored 11 touchdowns of 40-plus yards in his Boise State career. Offensive guard John Molchon, meanwhile, was not drafted, and he signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay. Molchon and Moa are the only known UFA signings so far among former Broncos.

CIRCLING THE WAGONS ON OLYMPIC SPORTS

There are tough decisions ahead for some Group of Five programs after the NCAA said Friday it would not approve a temporary waiver on the number of sports required in Division I in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Group of Five commissioners, including Craig Thompson of the Mountain West, had asked for relief two weeks ago. But the NCAA says it’ll only consider exceptions to its 16-sport minimum requirement on a case-by-case basis. Fresno State president Joseph Castro said last week he’s prepared for a possible reduction in Bulldogs sports. Fresno State sponsors 21 sports, so it has a little wiggle room. There’s less of that for Boise State, which has 18 sports (not that there’s any indication right now it would come to that with the Broncos).

HAARMS WITH THE LONG ARMS

The best win for Boise State men’s basketball this past season ended up being the 72-68 overtime victory over BYU in ExtraMile Arena. Duplicating that feat next season in Provo just got a little more difficult. The Cougars have landed 7-3 grad transfer Matt Haarms from Purdue, considered the nation’s top available transfer. Haarms chose BYU over Kentucky and Texas Tech and promises to be a handful for the Broncos’ new men in the post, Mladen Armus and Lukas Milner. Haarms amassed 210 blocked shots the past three seasons for the Boilermakers.

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

April 27, 1983: Nolan Ryan surpasses Walter Johnson’s 56-year-old career strikeout record, fanning five in Houston’s 4-2 win over Montreal for a total of 3,509. At the age of 36, Ryan was in his 16th full season in the majors and, incredibly, still had 10 years to go. He had previously pitched for the New York Mets and California Angels, and he’d remain with the Astros through 1989 before finishing his career with the Texas Rangers. Ryan’s all-time strikeout record would end up at 5,714.

(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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