Friday, July 20, 2012.
Yes, we have the pressing questions for a pressurized softball game. This is what we want to know going into the fifth annual Bronco Football Summer Classic for the First Tee Of Idaho tomorrow night at Memorial Stadium. Were offensive captain Mitch Burroughs’ pleas heeded for extra batting practice time? Burroughs would just as soon have his guys in the cage on Glenwood at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. Will the defense acquiesce to quarterback Joe Southwick’s request that five-year minor leaguer Hilton Richardson be required to bat from his knees in the home run derby? It will be interesting to see Richardson go from dealing with 95 mile-per-hour fastballs to slowpitch lollipops. And will offensive tackle Faraji Wright actually play in the game as planned—or will he commandeer a microphone and become the feature entertainment again?
While his former Boise State teammates compete tomorrow night in their charity softball game, an event in which he used to flourish, Austin Pettis, now a second-year wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams, will be hosting his first fundraiser for his foundation. The Austin Pettis Foundation will hold a celebrity basketball game at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, CA. NFL and NBA players will help Pettis raise money for underprivileged kids.
April’s NFL Draft affected Pettis as much as any of the existing former Broncos in the NFL. The Rams selected two wide receivers, Brian Quick of Appalachian State in the second round and Chris Givens of Wake Forest in the fourth. Givens has speed, but some question his fundamentals. Quick has fundamentals, but some question his speed. St. Louis also signed Steve Smith and has former Hawaii standout Greg Salas coming back. Salas outshined Pettis last season despite being a lower draft pick. Pettis, who made 27 catches as a rookie, is going to miss the first two games of this season as he finishes his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy late last year. That puts him behind the eight-ball in trying to get entrenched with Jeff Fisher and his new Rams coaching staff.
Boise State really isn’t doing that badly in the watch list sweepstakes this summer. D.J. Harper got his nod yesterday, named one of 52 candidates for the 2012 Doak Walker Award that goes to the nation’s best running back. The sixth-year senior made the most of his time behind Doug Martin last season, rushing for 557 yards and notching back-to-back 100-yard games when Martin was injured. Harper began the 2009 season as the Broncos’ starting tailback before his season ended due to a knee injury in the third game. The same thing happened to Harper in 2010. This season, the starting job is finally his once again.
Former Bishop Kelly and Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins was on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday to talk about his skills camp at BK July 31-August 2. While talking football and his hopes of catching back on with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, Hawkins revealed that one-time Boise State quarterback Taylor Tharp is now a graduate assistant under former Bronco offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin at Texas. Hawkins is hoping for that type of opportunity himself. Cody, son of former BSU coach Dan Hawkins, says coaching is in his blood.
Football independence may prove to be excruciatingly difficult for Idaho, but BYU is certainly embracing it now. Reports say the Cougars have agreed to a home-and-home series with Wisconsin, with BYU going to Madison next year. The Badgers’ return trip is to be determined. The Cougars’ 2013 slate now includes home games against Texas, Boise State, Utah and Georgia Tech, and road games at Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Hawaii, Utah State, Houston and maybe Washington State. BYU’s 12-year home-and-home series with the Broncos begins September 20 on the blue turf.
Boise State’s player-run practices will end next week. In football, anyway. Those have been off-limits to the Bronco coaching staff per NCAA rules. But the scene has changed in basketball. Hoops used to be like football, with players allowed to work out in the summer only with the strength and conditioning staff, and practice on their own. Now, basketball players who are on pace to graduate or are taking summer school classes can work out with the head coach or assistant coaches for up to two hours a day and eight hours a week. And Leon Rice’s staff is following the bouncing ball, with most Broncos staying in Boise for the summer.
The Boise Hawks would have been no-hit last night were it not for Stephen Bruno. In a 2-1 loss at Eugene, Bruno collected both Hawks hits and was responsible for all their scoring with an RBI double. It was a thankless night for two Boise pitchers. Ian Dickson turned in a quality start, allowing one earned run on four hits over five innings and striking out six. And Hunter Ackerman, making his Hawks debut, finished by retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced.
No better place to go when you’re called up to the majors than a first-place team. Former Hawk Donnie Veal has been summoned from Triple-A by the Chicago White Sox, looking forward to his first big league assignment in three years. Veal, a 27-year-old left-hander, was a second-round draft pick of the Cubs in 2005 and played in Boise that summer, going 1-2 with a 3.33 ERA. In his rookie season with the Pirates in 2009, Veal was 1-0 in 19 appearances but had an ERA of 7.16.
This Day In Sports…July 20, 1976:
Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Brewers hits his 755th and final home run off pitcher Dick Drago of the California Angels. Aaron had gone back to Milwaukee for the final year of his 23-year big league career. Barry Bonds, of course, eclipsed Aaron’s career record in 2007 and ended up at 762 (a mark that begs for an asterisk). Speaking of asterisks, now we await Alex Rodriguez—11 years and three days younger than Bonds—now at 643.
(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.)