Thursday, February 4, 2010.
What do you do after National Letter of Intent Day? Why, you check the grades. Let’s see here—Rivals.com ranks Boise State’s recruiting class No. 82 in the country, and Scout.com says No. 94. What’s a Top 10 team to do? Well, first of all, you can’t accumulate many of those “ratings stars” when you only have 10 players in your class. Secondly, we’ve all been through this drill before with BSU recruiting, and we know it’s laughable. The Broncos zero in on exactly who fits what they want—they don’t worry about anyone else, and they don’t look back. “We don’t want to get caught up in who we’re beating and who we’re not beating,” said coach Chris Petersen. Despite the few number of scholarships available, Petersen doesn’t feel like he left players on the table, so to speak. “The needs we had—when we got commitments from the guys at those positions, we moved on.”
Boise State didn’t have room for much in its 2010 recruiting class, but one thing the Broncos wanted to make sure they had was another quarterback. Grant Hedrick extends the depth chart to five. The highly-touted 6-1, 185-pounder from Independence, OR, joins Mike Coughlin, Joe Southwick and Mike Tamburo in line behind Kellen Moore. Coach Chris Petersen would ideally like one quarterback per class. That apple cart was upset in August of 2008 when Nick Lomax decided to transfer. Petersen played catchup by getting both Southwick and Tamburo a year ago. Now, in Hedrick, he has a smallish QB from a small school—a guy whose dad was his coach. Is any of this sounding familiar? Are the Broncos set through 2014?
Stewart Mandel’s SI.com column on Boise State’s recruiting class Monday had some great stuff on Hedrick. Hedrick’s father, Shane, thought Grant would surely go to Oregon since he grew up a Ducks fan. Then came his visit to Boise, which came a couple days after his visits to Oregon and Oregon State last June. "We got there, and he was just blind-sided by the coaching staff and the community and the support there,” said dad. “He looked at me and said, 'If they offer, I'll accept.' Sure enough, the next weekend they offered and he accepted, no hesitation at all." Grant threw 34 touchdown passes versus just one interception as a senior. Again, is any of this sounding familiar?
Petersen says he’s never had to wait until the final day of recruiting to find out if he landed a coveted player. Until yesterday. The most pleasant surprise of the class was safety Jeremy Ioane from Honolulu, who chose Boise State over Notre Dame and Washington. Ioane announced his decision at a press conference, stunning many who thought he’d join former star teammate Manti Te’o at Notre Dame, where he visited just last weekend. The other prize plums among the Bronco newcomers are considered to be wide receiver Troy Ware of Vista, CA, and Canadian defensive end Tyrone Crawford of Windsor, Ontario, by way of Bakersfield College. It was during the recruitment of Crawford two years ago that BSU discovered Michael Atkinson.
Rivals.com national recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree is about as high as anybody on Boise State’s small but powerful 2010 class. Mandel’s SI.com story on the Broncos this week draws heavily on Crabtree’s observations. Take wide receiver Matt Miller from Helena, MT, for example. Crabtree calls Miller, Rivals.com's top-rated player in the Rocky Mountain states, "the best player to come out of Montana in six or seven years.” Miller chose Boise State over Arizona State, Oregon State, Arkansas and a host of others. And you’ve gotta love this quote. "I thought about playing for a BCS school pretty long and hard," Miller told Rivals.com. "The way I see it, I'll be more likely to play in a BCS bowl game with Boise because it seems they are in a BCS bowl game every year." Well, two out of every four, anyway.
The expected departure of Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to Tennessee yesterday resulted in the expected promotion of D-line coach Pete Kwiatkowski as Wilcox’s replacement. New Volunteers coach Derek Dooley had already offered the job to at least two other guys. I’d say he’s lucky they didn’t accept it. Wilcox is going to make him look good. And how about this game on September 11: Oregon at Tennessee in Knoxville. As for Kwiatkowski, this is a natural for Boise State. A star player for the Broncos 25 years ago, he was seen as a veteran, stabilizing force when he was hired for Petersen’s original 2006 staff. Kwiatkowski had been defensive coordinator for six seasons at Montana State, where the Bobcats led the Big Sky in total defense four times.
That creates an opening on the Boise State coaching staff for the first time in over three years. It’ll be on the defensive line, unless Kwiatkowski decides to continue coaching a position. “The amount of applicants is not going to be a problem,” said Petersen. Just like in recruiting, he’ll look for the exact fit. “We could go through spring football (without a replacement) and be fine. The important thing is not to rush the process.”
Locally we know the Kyle DeVan story. Last April, DeVan was playing for the now-defunct Boise Burn in the af2, sharing an apartment and making $200 a game. This Sunday he’ll be starting at right guard for the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. Let’s track it back a little further. After being released from the New York Jets practice squad in December of 2008, DeVan went back to Vacaville, CA, and became a substitute teacher. "I taught everybody from fifth grade through seniors—everything,” said DeVan.
Then he jumped at the chance to play for the Burn. At that point, he says, he had nothing to lose when he was signed as a free agent by the Colts. The af2 would be his fallback plan. But DeVan earned an invitation to training camp, then made the team, then played his way into the starting lineup as one of Peyton Manning’s protectors. One of the great stories of Super Bowl XLIV.
ESPN2 didn’t join the Idaho-Utah State game last night until 8½ minutes remained in the first half, with the Aggies leading 24-13. It wasn’t until 2:07 was left in the half that the Vandals scored another point. By that time, the Aggies were ahead by 23, and it was pretty much game-set-match (USU won, 80-62). Idaho sorely missed star guard Mac Hopson, who was suspended for a curfew violation. Hopson will be back in the lineup Saturday night when the Vandals face Boise State in Taco Bell Arena. It’s hard to gauge what kind of mental state Idaho will be in. The Vandals certainly don’t have the same mojo they did a year ago when they came in and beat the Broncos. But Hopson’s going to be hungry.
The Idaho Stampede continue to reinvent themselves amid the influx of new faces. And Sioux Falls, with a more stable roster, picked up a 121-110 win over the Stampede last night in Qwest Arena. But the biggest problem was the free throw line, where the Skyforce outscored the Stamps by 16 points. Donell Taylor is proving to be the Stampede’s new feature player, as he poured in 29 points in the loss. The two teams now travel to Sioux Falls for a rematch tomorrow night.
There’s a different nickname that would fit the Idaho Steelheads this season. How does the “Idaho Onslaught” sound? You can’t score if you don’t shoot, and the advantage in shots-on-goal for the Steelheads has been remarkable. They were out-shot only once in January. They launched an average of 12 attempts more per game than their opponents. Las Vegas got the worst of it two weeks ago—and it’s the Wranglers the Steelies face in a three-game road set beginning tonight. In three games at Qwest Arena, Idaho attempted 67 more shots than Vegas. We’ll see what home ice does for the Wranglers, as they’re 9-0-1 in their last 10 games in Orleans Arena. The Steelheads will be missing a key shot-taker, though, as leading scorer and ECHL All-Star Game MVP Evan Barlow has been loaned to the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL.
This Day In Sports…February 4, 1969:
At 33 years old, John Madden becomes the youngest head coach in pro football when Oakland’s Al Davis taps him to take over the Raiders. Madden would lead the team for 10 glorious years, compiling a 103-32-7 regular-season record and, of course, a 32-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI.
(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 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He also handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)