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Boise State football: Lotsa left tackles

Keith Jackson used to call them the “Big Uglies.” But at Boise State this century, they’ve often been beauties on draft day. Time to vote for the offensive line.
Credit: Larry Ignelzi/AP Photo
Boise State left tackle Charles Leno Jr. defends during an NCAA game against San Diego State Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, September 23, 2020.

Here are the facts. Six of the last seven starting left tackles at Boise State have been drafted into the NFL. And the Broncos have had at least one first-team, all-conference offensive lineman, for 16 consecutive seasons now. That’s your scene-setter in this week’s voting for Boise State’s All-Decade team. It’s O-line time. You’re allowed more than one left tackle among your five choices, so I have Nate Potter, Charles Leno Jr. and Ezra Cleveland as automatics. I need two more guys. Marcus Henry or Matt Paradis at center? Despite Paradis’ success in the NFL, I’ll go with Henry based on his two first-team All-Mountain West nods. My last spot is between Rees Odhiambo and John Molchon. If back-to-back all-conference picks are important, that leaves Molchon to round out my All-Decade offensive line.

RELATED: Brett Rypien: Dominoes in Denver

NFL O-LINE WORKHORSES

Paradis and Leno are at the peak of their NFL careers—for Chicago and Carolina, respectively, after being drafted together out of Boise State in 2014. Both players have been in on 100 percent of their teams' offensive snaps this season. Paradis, the former Council Lumberjack, is in his second season with the Panthers. He joined them as a free agent last year following five seasons with the Denver Broncos, who picked him in the sixth round. Leno is in his seventh season with the Bears after being drafted by them in the seventh round.

A CURVE BALL FOR RYPIEN

Do you get the feeling the Denver Broncos don’t fully trust Brett Rypien? The signing Tuesday of veteran Blake Bortles doesn’t bode well for the Boise State star’s chances of suiting up for more than a week as a backup to Jeff Driskel. And maybe not even that if Bortles passes coronavirus protocols in time for this Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay. It looks like Bortles is ticketed for that No. 2 role, and Rypien just might not get a chance. Bortles has been a free agent since backing up the Rams’ Jared Goff last year. The Broncos love Rypien on the practice squad, but beyond that they seem to be skittish.

RELATED: Boise State football: Gotta be this week…

OH THE SUSPENSE…

KTVB’s Jay Tust reports that a source tells him “Mountain West teams are expecting an eight-game season that kicks off on October 24.” Prater & The Ballgame (Johnny Mallory) suggested a 7+1 model Tuesday that would allow Mountain West schools play one non-conference game. But time’s a-wastin’, and there just isn’t enough to jockey around for non-league games. Control what you can control—and that’s conference matchups. When will we get an answer? Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports says Mountain West presidents have a meeting confirmed for Thursday night.

JESSUP CLIMBS THE RADAR

Former Boise State standout Justinian Jessup isn’t going to get to participate in a pro basketball combine, but in 2020, it’s being on the list that counts. Jessup has been selected as one of 30 honorees in this year’s class by the PBC, a secondary NBA Draft combine. PBC is in its fourth year and serves to identify under-the-radar talent and maximize their pre-draft exposure. 

RELATED: Boise State football: Road Warriors, Part III (Utah, 1980)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, PBC is unable to hold an in-person combine, but the organization is committed to spreading the word on its honorees to pro leagues around the world. Jessup, the Mountain West’s all-time leader in three-pointers, is already signed to a “Next Star” contract in Australia’s National Basketball League, allowing him to retain his NBA Draft eligibility.

ELLISS REPRESENTS

One thing I noticed off the top on Monday Night Football the other night: Kaden Elliss was shown as a starter at linebacker for the New Orleans Saints as they helped the Raiders christen Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The former Idaho Vandal didn’t actually start in the 34-24 loss, and he didn’t record a tackle. But this season is already a victory for Elliss after his rookie year was derailed in late September of 2019. Elliss, a seventh-round draft pick last year, was already making an impact with 48 special teams snaps before suffering a knee injury that required season-ending surgery. But he hadn’t played on defense until last week. The fact that he is now after battling his way back onto the roster is impressive.

RELATED: Boise State football: So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance

DOWLING STILL SITS FOR DALLAS

Former Idaho Steelhead Justin Dowling hasn’t played for Dallas yet in the NHL Playoffs, but he’s still on the Stars roster. So Dowling is in line for a ring if Dallas can handle Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup Final. The series is tied at a game apiece, with Game 3 set for tonight in the bubble in Edmonton. Dowling, who starred in Boise in 2012-13, logged three goals and three assists in 29 games during the regular season. The well-chronicled local tie in the Stanley Cup Final is former Steelies coach Derek Laxdal, now an assistant with Dallas. Laxdal joined the Stars staff in early December and has clearly made a difference in the organization’s unlikely run.

RELATED: Boise State football: Big Ten–domino or not?

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…September 23, 1973:

Four field goals by George Blanda lead the Oakland Raiders to a 12-7 win over the Miami Dolphins, who suffer their first loss after the previous season’s 17-0 record. That snapped the Dolphins’ 18-game winning streak, the NFL record at the time. Blanda, at the age of 46 and appearing in his 300th pro game, booted one field goal in each quarter. And rookie Ray Guy, appearing in his second pro game, helped a dominating Raider defense by averaging 49 yards on six punts.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.) 

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