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Boise State football: The next wave of new Broncos

In early June, Boise State had just one commitment for the 2021 recruiting class, but there was no need for alarm. The Broncos climbed back to the top of the MW.
Credit: Steve Conner/AP Photo
Boise State’s John Ojukwu, Octavius Evans and Tyric LeBeauf lead the Broncos onto the field for their NCAA game against Wyoming Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 20-17 in overtime.

BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, December 17, 2020.

It’s hard to tell what’s really there until they put on Broncos uniforms, but we do know that Boise State’s recruiting class is again rated No. 1 in the Mountain West by 247 Sports (No. 63 in the country). The Broncos signed 15 prospects on Wednesday’s early signing day, eight on offense and seven on defense. What kind of recruiting season has it been? According to coach Bryan Harsin, he has met exactly zero of the new players in person due to the pandemic. Amazing.

The class is really strong at wide receiver and linebacker, with Boise State landing three players at each position. On the other hand, there are no running backs, although there’s still hope that highly-touted commit Eli Sanders of Chandler, AZ, will sign on February 3. There aren’t any cornerbacks, either, so there’s still some finish work to do on the recruiting trail. One thing to keep in mind—due to COVID chaos, the transfer portal should be packed next spring. That’s going to be a resource, no doubt.

THREE NAMES TO TRACK

I’m aware of Boise State’s commits, and I’ve seen some of their exploits on high school football fields this fall. Quarterback Taylen Green of Lewisville, TX, has been one of those front and center through Twitter highlights. Harsin confirmed that Green will graduate this month and enroll in January. But I thought I’d ask Kevin Hiatt, a longtime Boise State recruiting tracker and analyst at BroncoCountry.com, who among the 15 early signees on Wednesday stood out to him. He’s a lot closer to it than I am. Hiatt settled on offensive tackle Mason Randolph, who had at least five Power 5 offers. “He was the nastiest O-lineman in California this class,” observed Hiatt. And he notes that everybody’s excited about 6-4 wide receiver Eric McAlister of Azle, TX, who has 43 touchdown receptions over the past two seasons.

SPOTLIGHT WON’T BOTHER STARKEL

San Jose State will be a lot different than Wyoming on offense Saturday in the Mountain West championship game. Spartans quarterback Nick Starkel is going to be far better in the title game than Levi Williams in the snow game—Starkel threw for 306 yards on Nevada. He has a pedigree, beginning his college career at Texas A&M before transferring to Arkansas and then to SJSU, where he’s finally been a full-time starter. Not many of his teammates have been on a stage like the one coming up in Las Vegas, but Starkel has. He holds the A&M bowl game record with 499 yards passing in a wild 55-52 win over Wake Forest in the 2017 Belk Bowl. Starkel will not be a deer-in-headlights. He has been a most worthy successor to Josh Love, the Spartans’ Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year last season.

QUEST TO CRACK THE GOOSE EGG

The fact remains that San Jose State is 0-14 against Boise State in a series that dates back to 1978. Although Saturday’s game won’t be played in the Silicon Valley, it’s worth noting that things can get dicey when the Broncos face the Spartans away from the blue turf. Just last year, SJSU led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter and was still up by a touchdown going into the fourth quarter before Boise State rallied for a 52-42 win. The Spartans, of course, almost ruined two undefeated regular seasons for the Broncos in San Jose—in the “Breakfast With The Broncos” game in 2004 and Ian Johnson’s punctured lung game in 2006.

JESSUP’S AUSSIE DEBUT

While his former Boise State teammates cross their fingers for their games against New Mexico next Monday and Wednesday, Justinian Jessup is going full-bore in Australia. Jessup made his preseason pro debut Tuesday night as a National Basketball League “Next Star,” scoring a team-high 24 points for the Illawara Hawks in their 93-81 loss to the defending NBL champion Perth Wildcats. Ironically, I first saw this via a tweet from former Bronco Anthony Drmic, who preceded Jessup in wearing No. 3 for Boise State and is now playing for the Brisbane Bullets.

CUTTING C OF I SOME SLACK

College of Idaho wasn’t penalized for its four-game losing streak in the first regular-season NAIA Coaches Poll this week. There are extenuating circumstances. The Yotes are No. 15 in the new rankings despite their 1-4 record, because all four losses have come against Division I competition. And there’s another. As of this writing, C of I’s game at Seattle University tonight is still on.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…December 17, 1960, 60 years ago today:

Charles O. Finley, an insurance man from Gary, IN, gets permission from the American League to buy the Kansas City Athletics. In 1968 he moved the A’s to Oakland, where he became known as a P.T. Barnum of baseball. Finley replaced the team’s traditional elephant mascot with a live mule, dressed the A’s in yellow and green, introduced white cleats, experimented with orange baseballs, and paid his players to grow mustaches. With those as their trademark, the A’s won three straight World Series championships from 1972-74.

(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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