Thursday, February 7, 2013.
The star system that scouting services use to rank recruits has long bothered Boise State coach Chris Petersen. Talk about an inexact science. The Broncos have had their share of two-star guys who have made it to the NFL. But if you look at the big picture in the 28-man 2013 recruiting class coming out of National Letter of Intent Day yesterday, it’s hard not to notice the number of three-star prospects, according to Scout.com ratings. There are 19 of them, telling you that Boise State is getting into living rooms and closing the deal at a higher level than ever before. The only year the Broncos have come close to this was the 10 three-stars they signed in 2007 coming out of their first Fiesta Bowl. There were eight last year. “We love ‘em on paper,” said Petersen, adding that it’s up to his staff to get them off paper now and coach them up.
It wasn’t easy for Boise State to pull off a class like this one. “I’ve never seen it like this as long as I’ve been here,” said Petersen. “Why there isn’t an early signing day, I don’t know. The problem starts after bowl season.” That’s when Petersen says the “vultures” are out, trying to scavenge other team’s recruits. And he’ll be the first to tell you the Broncos picked off a few from other schools themselves. It’s the nature of the beast, and he’s glad it’s over. “We worked really hard, in terms of what kind of players they are and what kind of people they are.” He wouldn’t name any true freshman in particular that might be active this year. “If they’re ready, we’re using them—we tell them all that,” Petersen said. “There’ll be a handful of guys who play this fall.”
Boise State has signed six junior college transfers this year, far more than usual. In fact, there had never been more than two JC additions in any of Petersen’s first seven seasons. “Usually you don’t like to take that many JC guys, just because you don’t have ‘em that long,” said Petersen, who indicated it was a combination of filling immediate needs and finding OKGs (“our kind of guys) in the JC ranks. “These kids fit what we were looking for,” Petersen said. But, “It’s more about the here and now.” As much here-and-now as anybody is kicker Tyler Rausa out of Riverside City College with Michael Frisina gone. “He kicked at the college level (JC), so there’s no tee involved (on placekicks),” said Petersen. “I think it changes when you take that thing away, especially in pressure situations.”
Joey Martarano redirected any conversation about baseball yesterday back to football in his KTIK interview. Martarano, the top major league prospect in the state of Idaho, does admit it’ll be interesting what happens in the June draft. But he maintains playing football at Boise State has been his dream. Music to the ears of Petersen, who has known for a long time that he wanted Martarano in blue and orange. The Fruitland High star committed back in June of 2011. “I don’t know if we’ve ever offered a guy that early,” Petersen said. As for the baseball issue? “My scouting sense is he can’t hit the curveball,” quipped Petersen. “I know he’s a football player.” The coach said there have been discussions about Martarano playing both sports. “At the end of the day, we want what’s best for Joey,” Petersen said.
Official campus visits took on a different dynamic last month. It was the seventh-coldest January in Boise’s history, and Petersen noticed it. The weather isn’t typically an issue in recruiting at Boise State. “It gets cold here—and if you can’t handle the cold, you probably shouldn’t come here,” Petersen said he tells prospects. But he acknowledged that he and his staff, perhaps for the first time, had to play the “it’s not usually like this here” card with overnight temperatures in the single-digits.
There’s likely one more name to add to this recruiting class. Wide receiver A.J. Richardson of Harbor City, CA, announced his commitment to Boise State yesterday morning but didn’t sign his Letter of Intent and wasn’t officially announced by the Broncos. Richardson indicated he’ll be grayshirting this year due to what he calls “a slight injury.” In effect, Richardson fills the spot once held by Jack Austin, who reneged on Boise State and flipped to Cal. Richardson was once a Cal commit before the firing of coach Jeff Tedford and is higher-rated by Scout.com. “The environment up there, the fans, the team, the coaches—everything felt perfect,” Richardson told FoxSports of his visit to Boise State.
Two Treasure Valley players signed their letters with Idaho yesterday. Columbia High offensive lineman Nick Edenfield is headed to Moscow this summer, while Capital O-lineman Steven Matlock signed but is expected to grayshirt and wasn’t listed as part of the 19-man class announced by the Vandals. Idaho State had a small class—only 13 on the list. The Bengals didn’t mine the Treasure Valley the way they have in the past, as Columbia High thousand-yard rusher Mario Jenkins was the only local guy to ink with ISU.
A crushing loss for Boise State hoops last night at San Diego State. As sometimes happens with the Broncos, they were icy from the field in the first half, shooting just 32 percent. They were down by 17 points at one time before closing it to 10 at the break. Despite the poor shooting and some occasional Swiss cheese defense, the Broncos started gaining steam in the second half, scoring on seven straight possessions to take their first lead with six minutes left in the game at 56-54.
Boise State then cradled a 61-58 lead for more than three minutes at the end—down to the 13-second mark when Aztec star Jamaal Frankin hit a jumper. Derrick Marks, who had another big second half and scored 16 points, was fouled after the inbound but made just one of two free throws. Then SDSU’s Chase Tapley picked up a loose ball on the Aztecs’ final possession and heaved up a three-pointer that went through with 2.8 seconds left for a 63-62 victory. “I think the lesson you learn is play hard and sometimes you can get a little lucky,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. “We did both.”
It must be intensely frustrating for Boise State coach Leon Rice to watch balls going everywhere but in the basket. The Broncos missed three shots on their first possession alone and came up empty on their first eight shots of the game. They missed a bushel of point-blank attempts while they were digging their hole in the first half. But Rice didn’t dwell on that. He urged his team to “keep sawing wood,” and good things did start to happen. One of the revelations is that Mikey Thompson might be ready for prime time. Starting his second consecutive game in place of the injured Igor Hadziomerovic, Thompson tied for game-high honors with 16 points.
It was a “that’s more like it” night for the Idaho Steelheads. The Steelies had played seven consecutive one-goal games, but last night they were able to exhale after pounding Utah 7-3 in CenturyLink Arena. It was the Steelheads’ 14th win by three or more goals this season, most in the ECHL. The barrage was keyed by David de Kastrozza, who had two goals and two assists. There was a notable 0-fer on the other side. After two consecutive hat tricks, Utah’s Colin Vock was trying to become only the fifth player in ECHL history and the first since 1997 to score three or more goals in three straight games last night. But Vock was kept out of the scoring column altogether by Idaho. The Steelheads and Grizzlies play again tomorrow night in Boise before facing off in Utah Saturday and Sunday.
This Day In Sports…February 7, 2003, 10 years ago today:
Whatever happened to this? One year after the Opening Ceremonies of the Salt Lake Winter Games, a committee commissioned by Governor Dirk Kempthorne announces it’s exploring the possibility of an Idaho bid for the Winter Olympics. Kempthorne predicted the state would host an Olympiad by the year 2040, a dream that at first is seen as pie-in-the-sky—but later viewed as not impossible. It’s been pretty quiet on that front, though.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)