SCOTT SLANT: Undrafted free agents do have a shot

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

Boise State had three players drafted this year—and two free agents. The UFAs (as undrafted free agents are called), John Molchon and David Moa, can draw inspiration from some famous Broncos of the past. Only three Boise State products have played in 10 or more NFL seasons, and one of them was a UFA. Safety Quintin Mikell was not picked in 2003 but signed with Philadelphia and was in the league for 11 seasons, including one that ended in the Super Bowl and another in the Pro Bowl. Right behind Mikell is cornerback Chris Carr, who logged nine seasons in the NFL after going undrafted in 2005. Not to forget fullback Bryan Johnson and safety Jeron Johnson, who both played six NFL seasons after not hearing their names called. Jeron Johnson owns a Super Bowl ring, too (from the Seahawks).

SILENT PHONES AND EMPTY INBOXES

There are two levels of UFAs: those who sign contracts (as Molchon and Moa have) and those who get free agent tryouts. Boise State’s Chase Hatada, Kekoa Nawahine, Garrett Collingham, Jaylon Henderson, Sonatane Lui and Akilian Butler are still waiting—and hoping for the latter. Idaho’s Jeff Cotton and College of Idaho’s Josh Brown, too. Those who pass the tryout phase typically get invitations to training camp. But in the year of the coronavirus, rookie minicamps and tryouts aren’t happening. So it’s not known if any of these guys will get their chance. It’s especially surprising to see Hatada still out there.

ONE SCHOLARSHIP OPEN, AND ONE FILLED

Well, we knew of at least one Boise State football scholarship available with linebacker Josh Booker-Brown having entered the transfer portal. Now there’s one less, as the Broncos have a late addition to their 2020 recruiting class in the form of Jaylen Clark, a defensive back from Lincoln High in Tacoma. According to 247 Sports, Clark had offers from Arizona and Colorado that were pulled by National Letter of Intent Day. So, despite being 247’s No. 12 prospect in the state of Washington, he’s been in limbo for almost three months. Can you say, “chip on the shoulder?” But Broncos cornerbacks coach Jalil Brown kept recruiting Clark, waiting for something to open up. Clark is a high school teammate of 2020 Boise State signee Donovan Clark (no relation).

GETTING ALONG IN GREEN BAY

Green Bay has been roundly roasted for picking former Utah State star Jordan Love in the first round of the draft instead of a wide receiver who could help Aaron Rodgers. The Packers even traded up to get Love at No. 26 overall. This with Rodgers still in his prime despite being 36 years old. Rodgers had to endure the cold shoulder from Brett Favre when the former was drafted in a similar situation in 2005. Can it be different this time? Rodgers reached out to Love after the pick. “I was able to talk with him,” said Love. “A really good guy. Just congratulating me, you know, I was just letting him know I’m excited to be able to work with him.” Love’s a good guy, too. Perhaps they can co-exist the next few years.

USU GETS QUETA BACK

The Aggies men’s basketball team doesn’t have Sam Merrill (graduated) and Abel Porter (transferred to Ohio State) anymore. But they will have Neemias Queta next season. Queta, the 7-foot center from Portugal, had declared early for the NBA Draft, but he announced on Twitter that he’s returning to USU for his junior year. “My dream has always been to play in the NBA, but now is not the right time to declare for the Draft,” Queta tweeted. “We have continued to build a great program here at Utah State and it is one that I am very proud of representing.” He has averaged 12.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in his two seasons with the Aggies.

TOGETHER AGAIN – SIX FEET APART, IN MASKS

The Boise State football staff will come out from behind its collective screen today to reunite for coronavirus testing. Coach Bryan Harsin and crew will be tested for COVID-19 at CrushTheCurveIdaho’s Ten Mile Crossing testing site in Meridian. CrushTheCurveIdaho board member Tommy Ahlquist, who has led the fight for widespread testing in the state, will be there to help. Then on Thursday, members of the Boise State football team will compete against the school’s Esports team in an event that will be broadcast live on Twitch. The match will feature five different games, with the football squad’s competitors captained by Avery Williams. It’s called “Helmets vs. Headsets.”

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BACON…fresh takeout for breakfast, brunch and more!

April 29, 2015, five years ago today: For the first time in history, attendance at a big league game is zero. The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox 8-2 in an empty Camden Yards, with fans banned from the ballpark due to rioting in the area in protest of the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died after being injured while in police custody. The most peculiar moment of the afternoon came in the first inning when the O’s Chris Davis launched a three-run homer off former Boise Hawk Jeff Samardzija—in total silence. Playing before no fans is a debate today as the pandemic continues. But it’ll be the exception rather than the rule.

(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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