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Boise State football: On replacing a decorated individual

National Letter of Intent Day at Boise State is not the raucous event it was in the past. But there are reasons to pay attention today.
Credit: AP
Boise State's Avery Williams (26) blocks a punt by Colorado State's Ryan Stonehouse (41) during the first quarter in an NCAA college football game Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Boise, Idaho. Williams recovered the block in the end zone for a touchdown. (AP Photo/Steve Conner)

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, February 3, 2021.

It’s going to be a quiet National Letter of Intent Day, as most of Boise State’s heavy lifting was done in December. But there are needs. I talked about the running back spot Tuesday. Cornerback is another area of concern, as not a one was part of the class inked on early signing day. The Broncos need to replace Avery Williams somehow, some way. And we don’t know yet if Jalen Walker is using the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility yet. There’s hope that the versatile Kekaula Kaniho still will. Williams leaves all sort of holes as the reigning Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year. When he wasn’t taking kicks to the house, he was blocking them. Boise State needs, like, three players to replace Williams. Again, if there isn’t a corner signed today, it’s probably transfer portal time.

LOCALS LOCK IN

There’s nothing like a local signee, and after committing to Boise State Tuesday afternoon, Eagle High quarterback Ben Ford will sign with the Broncos today. As recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman of 247 Sports noted on Idaho SportsTalk, the speedy Ford was recruited as an “athlete” rather than a true quarterback and will probably be tabbed as a slot receiver. Huffman likened the Idaho 5A Player of the Year to a “Thomas Sperbeck-type who can do it all.” Sperbeck was a dual-threat high school quarterback in Sacramento before becoming the Broncos’ career leader in receiving yards. Huffman also brought up former Borah High multi-positional and multi-sport star and current Bronco Austin Bolt when talking about Ford, who is also a baseball standout and had been committed to play at Washington in that sport.

RELATED: Eagle's Ben Ford, Rocky Mountain's Jordan Erickson commit to Boise State football

While Ford is a scholarship athlete, Rocky Mountain’s Jordan Erickson looks to earn one, as he has accepted a preferred walk-on offer at Boise State. Erickson, an all-state first-teamer as a wide receiver, also did damage at running back for the Grizzlies as they won the 5A state championship. Between the two spots, he had 96 touches for 1,365 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. Erickson told KTVB’s Will Hall that playing for the Broncos has been a dream of his since he first played on the blue turf in the Optimist Football Jamboree. His former Rocky teammate, linebacker Ty Tanner, has also accepted a preferred walk-on spot at Boise State. Tanner made 97 tackles last season.

HARSIN PLAYS CATCH-UP

It’s also a big day for Bryan Harsin at Auburn, and The Athletic’s take is: “can a former Group of 5 head coach can hack it recruiting in the SEC?” Auburn fired Gus Malzahn less than a week before early signing day in December, making things urgent on the recruiting trail for Harsin. “The Tigers lost out on some big-name prospects and weren’t able to hold on to four-star running back Armoni Goodwin, the No. 93 overall player in the country who signed with LSU instead,” writes Ali Wasserman. “The class ranks No. 48 overall, which is a galaxy away from where rival Alabama is sitting right now.” Wassermen notes that Auburn is still involved with a handful of prospects this week. Can Auburn sign them? “Welcome to the show, Coach Harsin,” adds Wasserman.

GO-TIME ON THE GLASS

Rebounding has been an interesting animal for Boise State this season. The Broncos have been smashed on the boards twice—in both of their losses. They were outrebounded by 23 in their opener at Houston the day after Thanksgiving and by 16 at Colorado State last Wednesday. A point of emphasis last Friday was bouncing back on the glass. CSU actually won that stat line by one, but Boise State pulled down some big boards while it was building a 23-point lead in the second half. All in all, the Broncos have been excellent, winning the battle in 13 of 16 games this season. Making it 15 of 18 at Nevada this weekend would be huge. Everybody has been in on the act for Boise State, which has two of the Mountain West’s top 10 rebounders. Mladen Armus is sixth at 7.4 per game, and Abu Kigab is eighth at 6.1.

THE LOBOS’ PAINFULLY RUGGED ROAD

This is a most unfortunate turn of events. The series between San Diego State and New Mexico in Lubbock, TX, tonight and Friday has been called off, as several Lobos players have either opted out of the season or are about to. Lots of UNM fans are blaming the state of New Mexico, which has shut down all athletic activity, forcing the Lobos to base themselves in Texas and play home games there—and in St, George, UT. This mess of a winter has really hurt what was once a flagship hoops program in the Mountain West. New Mexico is a stunning 1-11 in conference play. The league needs the Lobos to be good, and it needs games to be played in The Pit.

YOTES JUST WANNA PLAY

Less than an hour after College of Idaho Media Relations Director Mike Safford Jr. sent out his game notes for Friday night’s game against Lewis-Clark State, well, you know it. The game has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns. At least the word is “postponed”—for now. The Coyotes have played just two games since January 7 and don’t have another one scheduled until next Wednesday’s Mayors Cup against Northwest Nazarene. Safford says this is the third straight week that there have been changes within an hour of his release of the Yotes’ game notes. It’s a thankless job right now.

YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD STAFF DOWN

New (and returning) Boise Hawks manager Gary Van Tol has met his goal, as his two Boise State assistant coaches from a year ago are officially Hawks staffers now. Travis Buck will be his hitting coach, and Michiel van Kampen will serve as piching coach. “Doesn’t hurt that these guys competed on the biggest stage in front of packed houses,” said Van Tol of their ability to connect with young players. Buck spent six seasons in the majors, and van Kampen played for The Netherlands national team for 12 years. “Boise...you couldn't get rid of us that easy!” tweeted Buck Tuesday. “Can't wait to get to work and YES, the band is back together again!”

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…February 3, 2008:

In the NFL’s biggest upset since the Jets’ win over Baltimore guaranteed by Joe Namath in Super Bowl III, the New York Giants derail New England’s hopes for a perfect season with a 17-14 stunner in Super Bowl XLII. MVP Eli Manning, a year after his brother Peyton was MVP in the Colts’ win over the Bears, hit Plaxico Burriss on a 13-yard fade for the winning touchdown with 35 seconds left to cap an 83-yard drive. The Patriots had set an NFL record for points and were 18-0, but the 1972 Dolphins remained the NFL’s only undefeated team.

(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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