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Historic, from Chicken Dinner Road to the Muscle Hamster

Historic, from Chicken Dinner Road to the Muscle Hamster

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on April 27, 2012 at 7:21 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 4:43 PM

Friday, April 27, 2012.

We knew the Chicago Bears had been doing a lot of homework on Shea McClellin leading up to draft day.  Lo and behold, they followed through, selecting the former Boise State star with the 19th overall pick in the first round last night at Radio City Music Hall.  Only recently had Tampa Bay’s name come to the surface in conjunction with Doug Martin.  But there went the Muscle Hamster (even Jon Gruden called him that) with the 31st overall pick to the Buccaneers.  And so it was that Boise State history was made last night—the first time two Broncos have ever been selected in the first round of the same NFL Draft, doubling the school’s all-time total of first-rounders.

McClellin’s meteoric climb up the draft boards culminated in a trip to New York City and a hug from commissioner Roger Goodell.  As McClellin walked off the stage, ESPN’s Suzy Kolber gave him the obligatory Chicken Dinner Road mention, an ode to the legendary country lane on which he lived.  And unlike a couple earlier first round picks, the ESPN panel didn’t question the Bears’ selection.  Said Jon Gruden: “Just find the football and you’ll find Shea McClellin.”  And to think that many thought it remarkable to see a kid from Marsing signed to a scholarship in 2007 by a team that just won the Fiesta Bowl.

Rewind to the Boise State-Oregon game in 2009, and you find all sorts of irony in Martin’s first round selection.  You had Gruden bringing up this former Duck, now a Tampa Bay running back.  “LeGarrette Blount is a very good runner, but he really struggles in all other areas.”  Gruden contrasted Blount’s negatives with Martin’s positives: “He’s a very good all-purpose back, and you have to have a back who knows who to block.”  Martin was taken before Oregon’s LaMichael James, who made his collegiate debut in that game on the blue turf and overshadowed Martin the past three seasons.  Oh—what were Martin’s numbers from that 19-8 win over the Ducks?  He had two carries for five yards and had one tackle and a forced fumble on special teams.

What are they saying in Chicago and Tampa Bay?  After all the talk of McClellin morphing to outside linebacker in the NFL, the Bears like him staying a defensive end, playing opposite Julius Peppers.  The Chicago Tribune compares McClellin’s small-town roots to those of his future teammate, Brian Urlacher, who hails from Lovington, NM.  In Tampa, new Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano considers Martin a prestigious pick.  "I just feel really blessed tonight to have the two guys we have," said Schiano, who also nabbed Alabama safety Mark Barron in the first round.  "The Alabamas and the Boise States, those are the programs that have just won consistently over time and to have the two guys that are the leaders of those programs on our football team, I can't wait to get them in here."

McClellin, incidentally, is the second player ever drafted into the NFL from Chicken Dinner Road.  Cody Pickett, who grew up on Chicken Dinner Road as a little calf roper with his pro rodeo star dad, Dee, came into his own as a quarterback at the University of Washington.  Pickett was drafted in the seventh round by the 49ers in 2004.  But McClellin’s the highest draft pick ever among Idahoans out of the Boise State program.  The previous best was Boise High’s Rick Woods 30 years ago, taken in the fourth round with the 97th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  McClellin’s the third-ever first round pick from the state of Idaho, joining Caldwell’s Ray McDonald (Idaho) and Fruitland’s Jordan Gross (Utah).

Who’s left tonight and tomorrow?  Probably in this order, you have Tyrone Crawford, Billy Winn, George Iloka, Nate Potter and Kellen Moore.  The wild card holding out some hope for a phone call tomorrow on the final day is Boise State wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker.  The one-time walk-on out of Mountain View High had a spectacular senior year, just missing a 1,000-yard season and breaking the school record for touchdown catches with 16.  Shoemaker then wowed scouts at the Broncos’ Pro Day last month but remains on the bubble as a draft choice. 

There are always surprises in the draft.  Like last year, when Boise State’s Brandyn Thompson was selected—and Jeron Johnson wasn’t.  And if Shoe isn’t picked, it’s not the end of the world.  Five undrafted free agents out of Boise State were active in the NFL last season alone: Johnson, Richie Brockel, Winston Venable, Quintin Mikell, and Chris Carr.

The Boise State men’s tennis team is hungry for a Mountain West championship, and the Broncos are favored in the conference tournament this weekend in San Diego.  They have a bye into tomorrow’s semifinal round versus the winner of today’s TCU-UNLV match.  Boise State beat both teams during the regular season.  Elsewhere, the Bronco women’s softball team hosts New Mexico in a pivotal Mountain West series today through Sunday at Mountain Cove Field.  BSU is trying to extend a 26-game home winning streak.  And the College of Idaho baseball team has climbed three spots in the latest NAIA Coaches Poll, jumping to No. 21.  The Coyotes need just one win in their four-game series at Corban this weekend to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NAIA West Grouping Tournament.

A couple Boise Hawks notes: the Statesman’s Brian Murphy reports the club will pay tribute to the highest rung of Idaho’s baseball heritage on June 30 when it retires the uniform number Harmon Killebrew wore during his Hall of Fame big league career.  Killebrew’s No. 3 will be honored in a pregame ceremony the day after what would have been his 76th birthday.  The Hawks hope to have the Payette native’s family participate in the event.  Also, former Hawk Sean Marshall, who’s been turned into a closer by Cincinnati, experienced the downside of that role yesterday when San Francisco’s Angel Pagan hit a three-run ninth-inning home run off him.  The Giants won, 6-5, with the blown save putting a damper on a milestone for Marshall.  It was his 300th big league appearance.

Could this be the week that puts Graham DeLaet in position to retain his PGA Tour card?  DeLaet shot a four-under 68 yesterday in the first round of the Zurich New Orleans Open and is three strokes off the pace.  I don’t mean to jinx him, but the former Boise State star got out of the gates similarly at the Shell Houston Open four weeks ago and ended up missing the cut.  DeLaet is approaching the halfway point on his medical exemption but is pacing behind in the earnings he needs to keep his card.

This Day In Sports…April 27, 1956:

One of the great sports careers of all time comes to an end, when Rocky Marciano retires as the only unbeaten heavyweight boxing champion in history.  His record was 49-0 with 43 knockouts—11 in the first round.  Marciano won the crown from Jersey Joe Walcott in 1952 and successfully defended his title six times.  In the tournament to decide Marciano’s successor, Floyd Patterson knocked out Archie Moore to claim the heavyweight championship.

(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.)