Thursday, July 31, 2014.
Boise State fall camp begins tomorrow, with the still-stellar 2013 recruiting class ready to introduce itself. Some of those players got an early start as true freshmen—six of them, as a matter of fact. One of them, running back Aaron Baltazar, is gone. (In fact, Baltazar is gone now from Washington State, too, the Statesman reports). But the others, defensive ends Kamalei Correa and Gabe Perez, cornerback Jonathan Moxey, linebacker Tanner Vallejo, and wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck all justified the burning of their redshirt years. Now there are more than 15 scholarship redshirt freshmen anxious to become officially active in the next 24 hours.
If we were to zero in on some second-year freshmen whose contributions would be most handy this season, we can go directly to tight end. That was a roundly unproductive position for Boise State last season, and two—maybe three—of last year's redshirts have a chance to make an impact. Jake Roh had great numbers in high school: 122 catches, 1,947 receiving yards and 34 total touchdowns in his career at Chaparral High in Scottsdale, AZ. Fruitland's Alec Dhaenens, whose senior season with the Grizzlies ended early with a torn ACL only to be followed last year with a shoulder injury, is finally ready to re-emerge. Then there's Dhaenens' friend and former Fruitland teammate Joe Martarano, the linebacker who's been dangled as a possible fullback by coach Bryan Harsin. In the Bronco offense, that would mean tight end, too. Wouldn't it?
Coeur d'Alene strikes again. Boise State has picked up a verbal commitment from Coeur d'Alene High linebacker Drew Berger, a 6-1, 220-pounder who won the Linebacker Award at this summer's USC Football Camp. Berger is close friends with former Vikings teammate Chase Blakley, the Broncos' incoming true freshman tight end. The last Boise State linebacker to come out of Coeur d'Alene worked out pretty well. That was Lake City's Byron Hout, now on the Bronco coaching staff.
Game 1 for Boise State is, of course, in the Georgia Dome against Ole Miss. Two weeks and two days after that the Broncos will be away from the blue again when they go to Connecticut. Tuesday at the AAC's Media Day, UConn was voted to tie for ninth in the 11-team conference's media poll. The Huskies give it a go with first-year head coach Bob Diaco, the former Notre Dame defensive coordinator who inherits a team that won its last three games of the 2013 season after nine straight losses. Not surprisingly, Cincinnati was the dominant choice to win the league.
One other preseason poll of note: the College of Idaho was picked last by Frontier Conference coaches as it returns to the football field after a 37-year absence. C of I athletic director Marty Holly acknowledged on Idaho SportsTalk Tuesday that it's going to take some time to build the program, but that "we could surprise some people." Coach Mike Moroski has the Coyotes solidly glued together with their first fall camp around the corner.
The injury to DeMarcus Lawrence at the Dallas Cowboys' practice Tuesday night was as bad as feared. Lawrence broke his right foot during a pass rush drill while going against left tackle Tyron Smith and landed awkwardly on his foot. The Cowboys' second-roun draft pick has flown back to Dallas and is scheduled to have surgery today. Lawrence is expected to miss 8-12 weeks, wiping out up to half of his rookie year. Fellow former Boise State standout Tyrone Crawford can commiserate with Lawrence. Crawford's second NFL season with Dallas ended before it began when he tore his Achilles tendon at the first practice of training camp last July.
As widely expected, the Boise State-Idaho men's basketball game has been moved up a day to Tuesday, November 25, two nights before Thanksgiving. The change was made to accommodate the Broncos' trip to North Carolina State—they play the Wolfpack the day after Turkey Day. The Bronco-Vandal matchup will mark the fourth holiday special since the two schools have become non-conference foes again. Boise State has won the previous three tussles, the first one in the Idaho Center on New Year's Eve 2011 and the last two in CenturyLink Arena during Thanksgiving break.
The Boise Hawks weren't enjoying their first 2014 encounter with Vancouver last night. They were trailing the Canadians 7-0 in the sixth inning, and a lone Boise run in the bottom of that frame didn't change the outlook a lot. But the Hawks sent 11 men to the plate in the seventh and scored six runs to tie the game 7-7, keyed by a two-run single off the bat of Danny Canela. Then in the bottom of the ninth with Jesse Hodges on second, Canela singled. Hodges rounded third at full speed as Vancouver second baseman Tim Locastro had the ball go under his glove, and Boise completed the improbable comeback with an 8-7 victory.
Former Hawk John Lackey has played for just two teams in his 13-year major league career. Will there be a third? The Boston Red Sox are facing reality in a sour 2014 season and may continue to unload talent. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that the BoSox are open to trading Lackey and/or fellow starter Jon Lester. The club pulled Lester from his planned start last night. Lackey is still listed as the starter tomorrow night against the Yankees, but the trade deadline is 2 p.m. our time today. Lackey, now 35, is set to make $15.25 million next season, but Boston (or whichever club he plays for) has an option for the big league minimum salary because of his 2012 Tommy John surgery. Lackey is 11-7 this season with a 3.60 ERA. Update: Lester and Jonny Gomes were traded to Oakland this morning for Yoenis Cespedes—a blockbuster, to be sure.
Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph appears to be assembling a solid core for 2014-15. The Steelheads have agreed to terms with defenseman and incumbent captain Patrick Cullity, who turned in the best campaign of his pro career last season with Idaho. Cullity had good numbers for a blueliner, scoring four goals with 28 assists to earn the Steelies' Defenseman of the Year award. The 27-year-old from Massachsetts is entering his fifth full professional season.
This Day In Sports…July 31, 1997:
The baseball trade that set the table for history (or infamy?)—the Oakland A's deal slugger Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals. McGwire at that point had 34 home runs and would hit 24 more with the Cards, for a season total of 58. The next year, of course, he got in a groove in St. Louis and broke Roger Maris's 37-year-old single-season home run record in a rampage that at the time may have saved baseball…but is now shrouded in a dark cloud.
(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.)