Thursday, December 21, 2017.
Early in the afternoon, Boise State was 17-for-17 in signing its current list of known commitments for the 2018 recruiting class. Then it became 19-for-19 when two unknowns materialized. Maybe that’s the new normal as the first early-signing day is in the books. Of course, the signing window is open until tomorrow night at midnight, so maybe there will be other surprises. For the record, one of the unexpected signees is cornerback Tyric Lebeauf from the renowned Long Beach Poly program in California (DeAndre Pierce’s high school alma mater). LeBeauf is 6-3—that’s really something for a corner. The other guy we didn’t know about is Cameron Thomas, a 6-4, 210-pound wide receiver from Westwood, TX, who flipped from Oregon State to sign with the Broncos.
There’s no quarterback in the Boise State class—yet. But there are four more wide receivers in addition to Thomas. One of them is the trendy pick as Cedrick Wilson’s replacement. John Hightower is a junior college transfer, he’s 6-3, and he has wheels. Sound familiar? One of the most anticipated newcomers is running back Andrew VanBuren from West Hills, CA, who 247 Sports said had Power 5 offers from the ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12, among others. VanBuren, a stout 6-0, 217 pounds, rushed for 1,259 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. He played for Chaminade Prep and peeled off a 312-yard game against rival Junipero Serra in September. Danny Smith was a late commit as a running back on Tuesday and rounds out the Bronco backfield class.
Two premium state of Idaho recruits faxed in their letters of intent. Keegan Freeborn, the 6-1, 297-pound offensive guard out of Rocky Mountain, is ticketed for the D-line at Boise State. “Yeah, they want my big behind up in the middle there,” said Freeborn yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk. Cole Ramsmeyer of Coeur d’Alene High looks to follow former Viking Chase Blakley’s footsteps as a tight end for the Broncos. Ramsmeyer is the No. 3 recruit in the state, according to 247 Sports.
One player who’s particularly excited about tomorrow’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is Wyoming free safety Andrew Wingard, a guy Boise State fans could learn to love. In fact, Wingard has relatives in the Treasure Valley and told me this summer he would have loved to get an offer from the Broncos out of high school. “Nebraska and Boise State were my favorite teams growing up,” said Wingard, a junior from Arvada, CO, who attended BSU’s football camp. His dad and his grandpa attended the Broncos’ first Fiesta Bowl. Wingard, the Preseason Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, earned first-team all-conference honors this month for the second straight year after logging 111 tackles and four interceptions for the Cowboys this season.
By now you know that Central Michigan and Wyoming are Nos. 1 and 2 in the nation in turnovers forced, with 31 and 30, respectively. With that category basically even, we need to see how well each offense prevents turnovers. The Chippewas have a plus-8 in turnover margin, which means they’ve coughed it up 23 times this season. That’s significant, because the Cowboys are No. 1 in the country in turnover margin at plus-16. Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen announced yesterday that he will indeed play tomorrow. How’s his turnover margin? Allen threw 15 interceptions in 14 games last year. He tossed six picks in 10 games this season—and none since he threw two on the blue turf against Boise State in October.
Well, Doug Martin fans, if you’re able to catch a glimpse of the former Boise State star in Tampa Bay’s final two games of the season, enjoy it. Martin may not be wearing a Buccaneers uniform much longer. He was suspended for the Bucs’ Monday Night Football loss to Atlanta due to a minor violation of a team rule reportedly having to do with a meeting. Which wouldn’t be a big deal had Martin not been struggling all season. He’s back on the active roster now, but in nine games this season, he has rushed for just 402 yards and three touchdowns. If Tampa Bay parts ways with Martin, it’s hard to see the six-year veteran being a hot commodity in the free agent market.
A year ago, you’d say Idaho’s player to watch in men’s basketball was Victor Sanders. Going into tonight’s Vandal Holiday Hoops Classic matchup against UC Irvine in CenturyLink Arena, you can start with Sanders, but you can’t stop there. Sure, Sanders is coming off a 25-point night at Western Michigan that included six three-pointers. But keep an eye on Brayon Blake, who drained all five of his three-point attempts in Idaho’s 30-point rout Wednesday. Blake has three double-doubles this season. And now, small forward Jordan Scott is emerging. Scott recorded his first career double-double at WMU with 10 points and 13 assists. Sanders, Blake and Scott are all seniors. The Vandals could have a special season in store.
While Boise State takes a deep breath in advance of its conference opener against Colorado State next Wednesday, San Diego State is ready to leave it all on the court tonight as the Aztecs host No. 12 Gonzaga in Viejas Arena. The Aztecs are 7-3, coming off a disappointing 63-62 home loss to Cal 12 days ago. The Zags are 10-2, and their losses hardly hurt their portfolio—by six points to Florida and by 16 to Villanova. A San Diego State win would be big for the Mountain West, but the Aztecs may have to go without senior captain Trey Kell, who’s down with an ankle injury on one leg and a deep thigh bruise on the other. Kell may suit up tonight, but he hasn’t gone through a full practice in a month.
The Idaho Steelheads sure have Rapid City’s number. The Steelheads beat the Rush for the eighth straight time at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center last night in a 6-1 rout that saw Idaho pepper Rapid City netminder Shane Owen with 52 shots on goal. Five different Steelies scored—captain Jefferson Dahl was the only one to tally twice. At the other end, Steelheads goalie Philippe Desrosiers was his ol’ steady self, making 28 saves.
This Day In Sports…December 21, 1974:
In one of the greatest games in NFL history, the Oakland Raiders beat the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins, 28-26, in an AFC playoff game at the Oakland Coliseum. Kenny Stabler attempted a desperation, falling-down pass into what has become known as a “sea of hands” in the end zone, and somehow Clarence Davis pulled it in with 26 seconds remaining to win the game.
(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.)