Monday, May 1, 2017
Jeremy McNichols was just about to leave town after watching Boise State’s Pro Day, and Doug Martin had just arrived for the Broncos’ annual Gridiron Social. So the two former Boise State star running backs met early last month. The conversation probably didn't end with “until we meet again,” but it could have. McNichols will now learn under—and perhaps compete with—Martin after being drafted in the fifth round Saturday by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "We got to meet each other (in Boise) in the spring,” said McNichols of Martin. “It's just kind of ironic.". McNichols could hit the floor running. “With his size and resume, he is Martin with better hands,” wrote the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud. Now Martin has to hang with the Bucs beyond his four-game NFL suspension. Indications right now are that he will.
Stroud theorizes that McNichols may have gone higher were it not for the surgery on his torn labrum after the NFL Combine. Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter, the former Boise State coach who has upped his stock in blue and orange, told reporters he thinks McNichols could be ready by training camp. McNichols becomes the first Bryan Harsin-signed player to be selected in the NFL Draft since Harsin became the Broncos’ head coach. All the others since 2014, including Tanner Vallejo, were Chris Petersen recruits. Also, Boise State is the only Group of 5 school to have an early entrant in the draft selected in each of the past four years, as McNichols joins Kamalei Correa, Jay Ajayi and Demarcus Lawrence.
Boise State linebacker Tanner Vallejo, chosen in the sixth round by Buffalo Saturday, is walking into a strange world with the Bills. The club dismissed its general manager, Doug Whaley, and its entire scouting staff a day after the draft. Reportedly Whaley’s role in the draft ended up being minimal anyway, but the scouting staff sure had its stamp on it. Regardless of the situation, Buffalo’s ownership and coaching staff are high on Vallejo because of his wheels and his ability to contribute right away on special teams. “We’re looking for speed on the field,” Bills coach Sean McDermott flatly told reporters after talking about Vallejo and fellow linebacker draftee Matt Milano out of Boston College.
After seeing nine players go in the NFL Draft last year, the Mountain West had eight selected over the weekend, with the first three coming from San Diego State. It took until the fourth round, but Aztecs offensive lineman Nico Siragusa was taken by Baltimore and running back Donnel Pumphrey was chosen by Philadelphia. Cornerback Damontae Kazee went in the fifth round to Atlanta, and shortly thereafter the Falcons used another pick to get Wyoming running back Brian Hill. Then came McNichols. So the pecking order at running back ended up being the same as it was on the All-Mountain West teams last season. Pumphrey, Hill, McNichols. A chip for the McWeapon?
The Buccaneers’ training camp will be dotted by Boise State alums. Thomas Sperbeck and Jonathan Moxey will join McNichols in Tampa Bay after signing as undrafted free agents. Whether that’s the land of opportunity for Sperbeck is to be determined. The Buccaneers already have a star in Mike Evans, and they recently signed speedy veteran DeSean Jackson. Then the Bucs drafted Penn State standout Chris Godwin in the third round Friday. But Sperbeck, the Broncos’ career receiving yards leader, is one of the great overachievers. There were two other UFA signings out of Boise State, defensive end Sam McCaskill with Minnesota and offensive lineman Travis Averill with Atlanta. Two Idaho Vandals landed deals, with UI punting king Austin Rehkow going to Buffalo and Tueni Lupeamanu going to Jacksonville.
There’s a list of NBA Combine participants out, generated by DraftExpress.com, including 69 invitees and 10 alternates. It’s not official, but it’s considered to be pretty reliable, and Chandler Hutchison’s name is not on the list. Boise State’s star forward declared for the NBA Draft last month but did not sign with an agent. That allows Hutchison to withdraw from the draft and return to the Broncos by May 24 if he so chooses. It would seem like the prudent thing to do.
Troy Merritt adapted generally well to the PGA Tour’s first official team-play event in 36 years. Merritt and partner Robert Streb tied for 24th yesterday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. But, as is so often the case, it could have been so much higher. Merritt and Streb were in contention after a blistering 10-under 62 on Friday. Then they ballooned to 74 Saturday before settling in with a 68 in the final round.
Allie Ostrander was the feature performer at Boise State’s one outdoor track and field meet of the year, the Border Clash, and she did not disappoint. Ostrander, a redshirt freshman in outdoor eligibility, obliterated the Dona Larsen Park record in the women’s 5,000-meters Saturday morning, running a 16:09.27 to easily surpass the NCAA regional qualifying standard. It was the first time Ostrander had competed at a meet—indoor, outdoor or cross country—in the Treasure Valley.
Unfortunately, coverage of the Mountain West Men’s Tennis Championships, hosted by Boise State, dried up as soon as the Broncos lost 4-0 to Utah State in the first round Friday night. There weren’t even results in the little font on the “Scoreboard” page in the Statesman. Just so you know, Utah State blanked UNLV 4-0 in the championship match yesterday at the Appleton Center. The foundation for this USU program was built by former Bronco star and Greg Patton assistant Clancy Shields, who’s now the head coach at Arizona. Elsewhere, props to the Idaho Vandal men and women, who swept the Big Sky tennis titles over the weekend.
This Day In Sports…May 1, 1920:
Both Joe Oeschger of the Boston Braves and Leon Cadore of the Brooklyn Robins (now the Dodgers) pitch all 26 innings in a game that is called because of darkness with the score knotted at 1-all. The two pitchers each set a major league record for longest appearance in a single game. That’s the equivalent of almost three complete games apiece. For comparison’s sake, Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox led the majors in complete games in 2016—he had six all season. By the way, that 26-inning game lasted just under four hours, and reportedly only four baseballs were used for the entire contest.
(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.)