Wednesday, August 9, 2017.
Boise State secondary coaches Ashley Ambrose and Gabe Franklin have an interesting task this year. They lost three of their four starters, cornerback Jonathan Moxey and safeties Chanceller James and the dismissed Dylan Sumner-Gardner. The Broncos could actually be better on the back end, though. The lone returning starter, Tyler Horton, is joined by two sophomores and one player who wasn’t even around last season. But safeties Kekoa Nawahine and DeAndre Pierce became forces late in the season—and if we’re to believe the Boise State coaching staff, junior college transfer Michael Young is the real deal. Ambrose is certainly excited about the group as a whole. “We’re going to be younger back there than we were last year, but we’ve got talent,” he said. “There are some ball hawks.”
Ambrose specifically touted the growth of Pierce and backup corner Reid Harrison-Ducros during spring football, and nothing has changed. “Now they’ll step up their game and get better and better and better,” Ambrose said. If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’m really going to reach here. Pierce is a defensive Kellen Moore. Why would I say that? Moore to this day takes shots for his size (6-0, 200 pounds), and the lack of wheels to offset it. Kellen had perhaps the highest football IQ in Boise State history. Pierce is playing safety, a position not designed for a 5-11, 174-pounder. But his football smarts are also off the charts, and he’s shown leadership since the day he walked on campus. Pierce does have the speed to offset the size, however.
Now that Eagle High grad Tanner Mangum has been named a captain of this year’s BYU team, he’ll look around for some receivers to lead. The Cougars have to replace their top three receivers—not that they were especially in sync with quarterback Taysom Hill (and later, Mangum) last season. BYU has a hill that’s even steeper to climb than Boise State’s at the wideout position, it seems. The Cougars need to bring the deep ball back, and they hope someone from a group that includes Jonah Trinnaman, Talon Shumway and Aleva Hifo can do it. At least the Broncos have a known field-stretching quantity in Cedrick Wilson. We’ll see how it develops on both sides before they collide on October 6.
Jake Luton looked more than capable as a backup quarterback at Idaho. But he couldn’t bump Matt Linehan out of the No. 1 spot and decided to leave the Vandal program about 14 months ago. Luton ultimately landed at Oregon State, and now the Beavers have named him the starter for the 2017 season. He threw for 383 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions as a redshirt freshman at Idaho in 2015, but also rushed for five TDs. Luton will make his Beavers debut August 26 when OSU helps Colorado State christen its new stadium.
The fallout from OSU’s decision: Marcus McMaryion has elected to transfer out of Corvallis. And he announced last night he’s headed for Fresno State, where he’ll jump right into a competition with Chason Virgil for the Bulldogs’ starting job. McMaryion split time last year with Darell Garretson, who started the 38-24 loss to Boise State and remains in the Oregon State program. McMaryion started the final six games last season for the Beavers, a stretch that included victories over Arizona and Oregon. In the win over the Wildcats, he completed 16 of 19 throws for 265 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.
The Dallas Cowboys have put a lot of stock in former Boise State star Tyrone Crawford this year—to stabilize the defensive line and to rise as a leader. But there’s been a setback, as Crawford went down with an apparent right ankle injury while trying to tackle Ezekiel Elliott in practice. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said in the Dallas Morning News it’s “obviously not a high ankle sprain,” but the extent of the injury isn’t really known. Crawford could be seen breaking into tears while being driven off on the back of a cart. He has started the last three years for Dallas and logged 4.5 sacks last season.
Chanceller James was involved yesterday in the most frightening moment yet at an NFL training camp. The San Francisco 49ers’ undrafted free agent out of Boise State collided with another undrafted rookie, linebacker Donavin Newsom out of Missouri, and the latter was taken from the field by paramedics to Stanford Medical Center after laying motionless for several minutes on the field. Newsom’s eyes were open, and he had feeling in his hands and movement in his lower body before being carted off—word is he has a concussion but suffered no spinal fractures. Practice was cut short, and players left the field in silence. James was emotionally shaken following the collision. Veteran safety Eric Reid and other players quickly approached to comfort him while much of the team kneeled in prayer for Newsom.
The Boise Hawks returned home last night to open an eight-game homestand, their final one before the annual Western Idaho Fair road trip. The home run barrage had dried up lately for the Hawks, but they clubbed their first two homers since July 27 in a 12-5 romp over the Eugene Emeralds. They’ve now hit 49 this season, moving past Spokane for the Northwest League lead. Last night’s homers came from Danny Edgeworth and Bret Boswell, who hit a three-run shot.
Familiarity breeds success—the Idaho Steelheads are banking on it, anyway. Yet another member of the 2016-17 Steelheads has returned to the squad, this one for a third year in Boise. Defenseman Corbin Baldwin played in all 72 regular-season games for the Steelies in each of the past two seasons. Idaho plays well when Baldwin is on the ice, as the 26-year-old from Winnipeg has posted a plus-38 rating in his 144 games, the highest of any Steelhead over that span and the fourth-highest career mark in the club’s ECHL era.
This Day In Sports…August 9, 2012, five years ago today:
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt becomes the first man in history to sweep the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in back-to-back Olympics. Bolt won the 200 at the Summer Games in London, adding that gold medal to the one he captured in the 100 a couple nights earlier and the two he won in those events in Beijing in 2008. Bolt, of course, repeated the feat in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and is considered the greatest sprinter in history. He’s the current record-holder in both events—9.58 seconds in the 100 and 19.19 seconds in the 200.
(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.)