Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: Hassanein hitting new heights this year

It’s a good time to be perusing the college football preseason magazines, and here are some takeaways from Lindy’s. Boise State’s Ashton Jeanty gets the expected kudos—top-rated player in the Mountain West and all. And Jonah Dalmas and James Ferguson-Reynolds are tops on special teams. But the hype train is going to build for Broncos defensive end Ahmed Hassanein. Lindy’s has the popular Egyptian as the fifth-best player (second-best on defense) in the conference, as he ranked sixth in the FBS with 12.5 sacks last year. As such, Lindy’s also calls Hassanein the league’s best pass rusher. He has momentum. Hassanein had 1.5 sacks through the first four games last year—all against FCS North Dakota—then posted 11 the rest of the way, recording at least half a sack in nine straight games.

What a ride it’s been for Hassanein, a guy who didn’t know what football was until he moved from Cairo to California six years ago to live with his brother. He saw a game on TV and was hooked. To say Hassanein was a project when he joined the Broncos is an understatement. He was the first Egyptian native ever to play Division I football. But man has Hassanein learned quickly. He knows football now, and football knows him. (And he was a leader in the push to get Spencer Danielson promoted to head coach.)


Yes, one year after not including Jeanty on even his fourth-team All-Mountain West squad, Phil Steele has Jeanty on a pedestal—as a second-team All-American. And, needless to say, he is on Phil’s first team All-Mountain West list. Two other first-teamers, Ferguson-Reynolds and Hassanein, are third and fourth team All-Americans, respectively. Dalmas is a snub, and who’s better than Ferguson-Reynolds? But it’s not worth expending energy on that. The three Broncos represent the most All-America recognition of any Mountain West school—and the Group of 5, for that matter—in Steele’s jam-packed magazine. A conference-high 15 Boise State players were on his All-Mountain West teams, which included the Pac-2, Oregon State and Washington State.


You’d think this is Boise State team camp-related. The camp, a recruiting hotbed, wraps up today on the blue turf, after all. But Josiah Alanis of Evergreen High in Vancouver, WA, was on his official visit over the weekend, and he committed to the Broncos yesterday. Alanis is a 6-2, 180-pound three-star safety. “I believe with football in this era, it’s important not to pick a college because of a coach because of how quick their job can disappear,” Alanis told 247 Sports. “But the coaching staff at Boise State is different with most of the coaches leaving their previous jobs to come join coach (Spencer Danielson). As well as the web of connections with the staff in general.” Alanis is Boise State’s third commitment in the 2025 recruiting class.


Respected West Coast college football writer Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has revised his preseason Top 25, but not when it comes to Boise State. To be sure, the Broncos are not getting this kind of consideration nationally, but Wilner has them standing pat at No. 24. Boise State is the only Group of 5 team in his rankings. Writes Wilner: “Look for the Broncos to pick up where they left off in 2023 under now-permanent head coach Spencer Danielson and control a Mountain West race that features a bevy of new coaches and rebuilding programs.” Wilner did consider Air Force, so maybe the Falcons are likely the second pick in the Mountain West preseason poll a month from now. And you know what? Washington, which waxed Boise State last year and made the national championship game, isn’t even on Wilner’s list.


The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel kinda hit the nail on the head on the Group of 5’s slot in the expanded College Football Playoff. The access is great, but any realistic chance of winning the national championship is gone. Writes Mandel, “Had either 2010 TCU or Boise State been invited to a four-team Playoff, either could have won the whole thing. But the sport has changed dramatically.” Now, he points out, so many G5 powers have moved up and have been replaced by FCS schools. “One of the cool things about those old Boise State teams is they were able to build off their Fiesta Bowl upset of Oklahoma and go on a run of knocking off big-name teams. But if the Broncos were to make the CFP this year, P4 teams and their collectives would snap up all of Boise’s best players.” That’s where Danielson would beg to differ.


Last November, Ryan Dinwiddie’s name was floated as a possible replacement for Andy Avalos as Boise State’s coach. It never went anywhere, and Danielson is kinda locked in now, y’know. Dinwiddie, one of the Broncos’ all-time greats at quarterback, kept after it as coach of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, and even though his team didn’t repeat as Grey Cup champion, he was still named CFL Coach of the Year. He entered his fourth season as Argos coach last weekend with a 36-14 regular season record. And even though Dinwiddie was missing his starting QB, the suspended Chad Kelly, Toronto won its season opener 35-27 Sunday night over the B.C. Lions. Is the CFL a forever thing for Dinwiddie? College football and the NFL have to be paying attention.


Kickoff times were released last week for a bunch of bowl games, including the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. That one will be at 12:30 on Monday, December 23, in Albertsons Stadium. Attendance has ceased to be a thing at most secondary bowls, and two days before Christmas isn’t going to do much for out-of-town fans. But a lot of locals will have the day off, and it’ll still be light when they drive home. It’s up to them. In a city that is supposed to be renowned for its love of college football, this game should be seen as a Christmas gift every year. It would be great if fans turned out for it.


With Boise State summer workouts underway, a spotlight on hoops. Mountain West men’s basketball goes in cycles—from national phenomenon to just another mid-major. Last season it was at its zenith, with a record six teams getting into the NCAA Tournament. But there are reasons to believe it will come back down to earth a bit now. John Wustrow of the Idaho Press had some relevant data points in a recent article. Due to graduation and—most strikingly—the transfer portal, only 12 of the 30 starters from those six teams return next season, and Boise State’s Tyson Degenhart is the only leading scorer coming back. The Broncos are one of those teams with only two starters returning, Degenhart and O’Mar Stanley, but they’re also the only ones with two first or second-team All-Mountain West players returning.


Two wide and varied pro sports notes: the Florida Everblades, who beat the Idaho Steelheads a year ago in the Kelly Cup Finals, have won their third straight ECHL championship after blowing past the Kansas City Mavericks four games to one. The Everblades are coached by former Steelheads head man Brad Ralph. He was good then, and he’s sure good now. And Timberline High grad Michael Stefanic is back in the majors. Stefanic was called up by the L.A. Angels over the weekend after a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. He’s batting .273 in four games after going 2-for-5 with a run scored in Tuesday night’s 9-4 loss at Arizona. This is Stefanic’s fifth stint with the Angels over the past three seasons.


The Boise Hawks are scoring runs in bunches—a necessity in the Pioneer League. But the Hawks bats are soaring, having put up three 20-run games already this season. Last week, after dropping the opener of a three-game set in Idaho Falls, the Hawks outscored the Chukars 42-7 over the next two nights to take the series before sweeping the Chukars at home over the weekend. Tuesday night they opened a six-game stand with the Grand Junction Jackalopes at Memorial Stadium and dropped the Jackalopes 9-5. The Hawks are averaging 10.5 runs per game. But you know what? That’s only No. 3 in the league. Pioneer League baseball, baby.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BACON BOISE…fresh breakfast and brunch every day!

June 12, 2014, 10 years ago today: Emma Bates becomes the first Boise State female athlete to win a national outdoor title at the NCAA Track and Field Championships. Bates, the most decorated track and field athlete in the sport in school history to that point, won the 10,000-meter run by 64-hundredths of a second over Alabama-Birmingham’s Elinor Kirk at Hayward Field in Eugene. Bates’ time of 32:32.35 was the fastest at nationals in 26 years and the second-fastest all-time at the meet. The Broncos’ Allie Ostrander would win three straight national championships in the 3,000-meter steeplechase from 2017-19, and Kristie Schoffield would take the 800-meters national title in 2022.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *