The Broncos' leaders of the pack

Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

At his press conference last week, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin was asked if any captain candidates were emerging during spring football.  While Harsin did say it was too early to speculate on 2017 captains, he did rattle off a list of leadership guys.  It included Tyler Horton, Leighton Vander Esch, Brett Rypien, Jake Roh, Jake Knight and Alec Dhaenens.  Those last three are tight ends, and it’s not a coincidence that the position has emerged as one of the strongest on the team this year.  In fact, some tight ends filled in some blanks at wide receiver during last Saturday’s scrimmage.  Roh and Dhaenens are seniors this year, and Knight is a junior who transferred to Boise State a couple years ago after a season as a track athlete at Auburn.  When tight ends are identified as the Broncos’ leaders, it magnifies the ol’ blue collar work ethic.

There was a big dropoff in tight end production last year, but it certainly wasn’t by design.  Roh, the centerpiece of the group, was hobbled from the get-go.  Week after week, we wondered when he would break out.  Roh missed the first two games in September.  At the end of October, he had a total of one catch for three yards.  At Hawaii, Roh had a 36-yard grab but was clearly hurting after the tackle.  He finally looked like the old Jake Roh in the Cactus Bowl when he made six catches for 54 yards.  Now, you take Roh, Dhaenens and Knight and add in Chase Blakley, Matt Pistone, and redshirt freshmen Nic Crabtree and John Bates, and the tight end unit is legitimately seven deep.  It’s likely you’ll see all seven Saturday when spring ball concludes with the Blue & Orange Game.

There’s a little more clarity now to Kellen Moore’s immediate future, as the Tony Romo question has been answered in Dallas.  While avoiding the word “retirement,” Romo has left football and has signed with CBS to replace Phil Sims alongside Jim Nantz in the broadcast booth.  That cements Moore’s status as Dak Prescott’s backup with the Cowboys going into training camp this summer, and level heads in Dallas have no problem with that.  “Moore brings a wealth of knowledge to the backup quarterback position and is someone who showed last year he can work well with Prescott,” wrote Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News yesterday.  “Moore knows the Cowboys' offense as well as anyone on the roster.”

Matt Paradis must be the biggest bargain in the NFL.  The former Boise State standout, the only Denver Bronco to play every offensive snap in each of the last two seasons, has agreed to a one-year, $615,000 contract for 2017 with the club.  Paradis is surely underpaid, but he got a late start in accruing NFL service and won’t have any salary leverage until at least next year.  The third-year center is recovering from offseason surgery on both of his hips—he got off crutches a couple of weeks ago.

The shock of the day yesterday was the announcement by former Mountain View High great Destiny Slocum that she’s leaving Maryland after one season.  Slocum was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year for the Terrapins and leaves them in the lurch after being one of the nation’s top five recruits a year ago.  “I’ve put a lot of thought and prayer into this decision,” Slocum said in a statement.  “I've talked with my family and Coach (Brenda Frese) a great deal and have decided to continue my college career elsewhere.” 

In a late January interview in the Baltimore Sun, Slocum said she initially thought Maryland was too far away from her family’s home in Meridian.  She had helped nurse her mother through breast cancer and had grown up with her father coaching her every day.  But she seemed content as a Terrapin.  A source close to Slocum told the Statesman that “any program west of the Mississippi could be in the mix—from Stanford to Boise State to Baylor.”  The Statesman said “another source close to the situation confirmed Boise State would be interested.”  Do ya think?

Nevada assistant hoops coach Dave Rice, the former UNLV head man, is leaving the Wolf Pack to join Mike Hopkins’ new staff at Washington.  Rice joined Eric Musselman’s crew at Nevada about a year ago and helped him craft the Pack’s second-winningest season ever (28-7) and its first Mountain West championship.  Rice was fired by the Rebels in January, 2016, after going 98-54 overall and 37-32 in the Mountain West over 4½ seasons.

There are lots of sidebars as the Idaho Steelheads close out the regular season with a three-game series beginning tonight in Anchorage against the Alaska Aces.  By Saturday night, the Aces will have either made the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time since they won it all in 2014, or turned out the lights for good.  In Anchorage, the focus isn’t on the melancholy, but on what it will take for the Aces to beat the Steelheads and extend the franchise’s life.  Alaska will likely need a sweep, and even that doesn’t guarantee the Mountain Division’s fourth and final postseason berth.  It won’t be easy.  Steelies goalie Landon Bow leads the ECHL with a 2.17 goals-against average, and fellow netminder Branden Komm is coming off his second shutout of the season.

Bishop Kelly High grad Josh Osich went the way of Boise High grad James Hoyt last weekend—Osich is starting the season in Triple-A.  Osich had a tough spring in the Cactus League with San Francisco, posting a 6.75 ERA over 9 1/3 innings.  The Giants hope a stint in Sacramento will get him back on track, allowing for a return to the bullpen at AT&T Park.  Hoyt was one of Houston’s final cuts last Friday.  His amazing journey through the Mexican League, independent baseball and the affiliated minors culminated with his first big league call-up last August.  Hoyt will begin the campaign in Fresno.

This Day In Sports…April 5, 2010:

At the time, many felt Butler was one runnerup that would not be forgotten.  History will be the judge of that, but in one of the most riveting championship games in NCAA Tournament history, Butler falls to perennial power Duke, 61-59, in Indianapolis.  The game had the feel of “Hoosiers”—the classic movie was largely shot in the Bulldogs’ gym almost 25 years earlier.  But Butler was no Hickory High, having spent the entire season in the rankings.  Still, the Bulldogs were popular underdogs as a No. 5 seed against one of the most storied programs in college basketball.  And incredibly, they made it back to the title game the following year.

(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.)

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