SCOTT SLANT: CT Thomas plays first fiddle

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Thursday, September 3, 2020.

CT Thomas isn’t taking a back seat to anybody going into his final season (whenever that may be). Boise State’s senior sparkplug made his own watch list Wednesday—this one for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award. That one goes to college football’s top performer from the state of Texas. Thomas is from Lancaster, TX, and was third behind Khalil Shakir and John Hightower in receptions for the Broncos last season with 41, covering 522 yards with six touchdowns. But Thomas is as go-to a guy as anybody on the Broncos roster. He came up big in Boise State’s two biggest victories last year. Thomas opened the season with five receptions for 103 yards at Florida State, and three weeks later he logged five more catches for 119 yards against Air Force. CT is never a forgotten man.

Let’s go to Thomas’ body of work. Two clutch catches come to mind. In the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl, with the Broncos trying to put the game away against Oregon in the fourth quarter, they faced a third-and-9 at their own 15-yard line. Brett Rypien found Thomas for a 22-yard gain, and Boise State did indeed put the game on ice with a touchdown at the end of the drive. Then at Nevada in 2018, Boise State again was trying to salt the game away in the fourth quarter. The Broncos went for it on a fourth-and-eight at the Wolf Pack 39. Rypien hit Thomas, who gained eight yards—and an inch.

LET’S SEE HOW IT PLAYS OUT

As much as we all agonize over the absence of Boise State football this fall, you wonder what a Mountain West season would have looked like. The San Diego State athletic department announced Wednesday “it will pause all on-campus practices and workouts for two weeks due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the campus area.” Elsewhere around the country, there’s a bit of roster erosion. The other day, UCF announced 10 opt-outs for the 2020 season, over coronavirus concerns, two of them starters. The Knights were picked to win the AAC just before that news came out. And Wednesday, the invincible SEC was greeted with word that Georgia’s presumed starting quarterback, Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman, has opted out to begin preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft.

‘SUMMER OF LOVE’ IN GREEN BAY

At first glance last spring, it looked like Aaron Rodgers was in “it’s not my job” mode when it came to mentoring newly-drafted quarterback Jordan Love out of Utah State. Now, a story from Bleacher Report tells us Rodgers is leaning toward kumbaya. “Part of your legacy,” Rodgers told writer David Gardner, “is how you treat your teammates. I want Jordan to have as great of memories as possible of me being in the QB room and having some great laughs and competing. I want kinship, not animosity.” Love, of course, was drafted in the first round last spring with Green Bay envisioning him as Rodgers successor. “He’s a good kid. He really is,” said Rodgers. “I enjoy being in the room with him. I think he’s got a bright future.”

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE HOOPS TUNNEL?

Multiple reports say the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee has proposed a start date of November 25 for Division I hoops, with the measure to be voted on September 16. That would be good news for Boise State, as the Broncos would be able to salvage one of the key pieces of their schedule, the Orlando Invitational. Coincidentally, the tournament starts November 25, the day before Thanksgiving. The brackets haven’t been set yet, but the field also includes Auburn, Gonzaga, Michigan State and Xavier. That works.

MERRITT SET FOR WINGED FOOT

The PGA Tour season is as confusing as can be due to COVID. The Tour Championship beginning today wraps up the 2019-20 campaign. Kind of. The Safeway Opens kicks off the 2020-21 campaign next week in California’s wine country. Kind of. What season does the U.S. Open belong to in two weeks? This we know: former Boise State star and Meridian resident Troy Merritt will be in the field for both the Safeway Open and U.S. Open. This will be only the second time Merritt has ever played two majors in the same year—he missed the cut in the PGA Championship last month. Merritt appeared in both the Masters and PGA Championship in 2016.

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September 3, 2005, 15 years ago today: Boise State opens its season with a game that had been hyped for eight months, both locally and nationally. The Broncos, ranked 18th in the preseason AP Poll, were visiting the 13th-rated Georgia Bulldogs before almost 93,000 fans in Athens and a national TV audience on ESPN. It ended up a day of infamy for Boise State and quarterback Jared Zabransky, who threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles in the first half of a 48-13 loss. Some national observers thought it would take years for the Broncos program to recover, but it was less than 16 months later that Zabransky and Boise State were winning the Fiesta Bowl.

(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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