BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, June 20, 2019. 

Phil Steele takes great pride in the fact his college football preview magazine resembles a rural phone book.  Last year it was 352 pages, and its about to hit newsstands everywhere.  Most of the other magazines are already out, and they must have gotten the message.  Athlon, for example, boasts “300+ pages—biggest issue yet!”  But enough of that.  What’s in it?  Athlon has Boise State No. 29 in the nation and No. 1 in the Mountain West.  To be sure, some of the content on the Broncos comes from the Statesman’s Dave Southorn.  If this is from Southorn, it’s right on: “If the new quarterback can serve as a merely adequate replacement for (Brett) Rypien, the Broncos should once again be in title contention.” 

Athlon’s predictions and position rankings involve a collaboration of writers.  They say Boise State will edge Utah State in the Mountain Division based on a head-to-head victory.  Then, they say, the Broncos will beat good ol’ Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game.  What’s interesting is the position ranking that has Boise State’s wide receivers and tight ends group No. 1 in the conference.  That shows some homework has been done.  The Broncos, of course, lost their two receptions leaders from last year’s squad.  There’s a load of talent at wideout, though.  The tight ends return only 16 catches and two touchdowns from 2019, but there’s every reason to believe old-time productivity will return this year at that position.

STETZ GETS A SCHOLLY

There’s nothing quite as cool as a walk-on getting a college football scholarship.  Jake Stetz is the latest to corral one at Boise State, announced on a tweet yesterday by coach Bryan Harsin.  Stetz is a 6-2, 289-pound junior offensive lineman from San Marcos, CA.  The Broncos, of course, have all five starters returning on the O-line this season.  But you need depth in the trenches, and Stetz appears ready to provide some after appearing in all 13 games last year, mostly on Boise State’s placekicking units. 

HAWKS PITCHING HAS BEEN STUPENDOUS

After dropping the first three games of the season on the road, the Boise Hawks have now won three in a row at home after an 11-0 shellacking of Everett Wednesday night at Memorial Stadium.  The Hawks’ pitching has been outstanding, allowing only three runs in these three games against the AquaSox.  In Wednesday’s shutout, Boise starter Frederic Parra went seven innings, scattering five hits.  Trent Fennell finished it off in the eighth and ninth innings.  The duo combined for nine strikeouts against just one base on balls.  The four-game series against Everett wraps up tonight.

STEELHEADS TRANSACTIONS

The Idaho Steelheads will have their captain back next season.  A.J. White is the first player to sign a 2019-20 contract with the Steelheads and will be entering his third year with the organization.  White is coming off the best season of his career, with 16 goals and 35 assists.  In two seasons with Idaho, he has missed only two games between both the regular season and postseason.  The Steelies announced Tuesday that goalie Tomas Sholl has agreed to an AHL contract with the Texas Stars.  Sholl did it himself, without the benefit of a previous association with the NHL’s Dallas Stars.  In 50 career games with the Steelheads, he has compiled a 35-12-3 record with a 2.02 goals-against average and six shutouts.

MERRITT STAYS THE COURSE THIS SEASON

Meridian’s Troy Merritt is back on the course today at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, CT.  It’s been a solid season for the former Boise State star.  Merritt is No. 105 in FedExCup standings and has made the cut in four of his last five events, with two top 20 finishes (and one top 10).  His earnings sit at a cool $753,310.  He was tied for the lead after the second round of The Memorial three weeks ago before the weekend went sideways on him.  All this sandwiched around January surgery to remove a rib.  Since returning full-time to the PGA Tour in March, Merritt has been playing two tournaments a month. He missed the cut at the Travelers last year but tied for eighth at TPC River Highlands in 2017. 

THIS WILL TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO

Are you ready for the Korn Ferry Tour to come to Boise in August?  That’s the new name of the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit, replacing Web.com.  Korn Ferry is a Los Angeles-based “global organization consulting firm.”  What was born as the Ben Hogan Tour in 1990 has also been sponsored by Nike, Buy.com and Nationwide.  It’s been the Web.com Tour for the past seven years.  The 30th annual Albertsons Boise Open, in its fourth season as part of the, uh, Korn Ferry Tour Finals, moves to August this year at Hillcrest Country Club.

This Day In Sports…June 20, 1982:

Finished for the day, Jack Nicklaus is tied for the U.S. Open lead and is watching Tom Watson, who has two holes to play at Pebble Beach.  Stuck in the heavy rough on the par-three 17th, Watson chipped the ball downhill some 16 feet.  Incredibly, it dropped in the hole for one of the most dramatic shots in golf history.  Finishing strong, Watson also birdied the 18th to win by two strokes.  It would be the only U.S. Open championship among Watson’s nine career major titles.

(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.)