Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: Is Skinner the leader of the MW pack?

Last year there were 11 Mountain West players taken in the NFL Draft, including three in the first three rounds. Not gonna happen this year. The 2022 season was a down one for the conference, and that’s evident as Dane Brugler of The Athletic has only six players from the MW among his top 300 draft prospects (and that doesn’t mean they’ll all be selected). And there could be nobody in the first three rounds. Brugler’s top-rated guy is Boise State’s JL Skinner at No. 92, followed by Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener at No. 102. That’s borderline third round. From there you have, in order, San Jose State EDGE Viliami Fehoko, the Broncos’ John Ojukwu, Fresno State wide receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper and Boise State’s Scott Matlock. Odds are the Broncos will have the most when it’s done, but who knows?


In its weekly “mailbag,” the college football staff at The Athletic studied the best and worst programs at developing talent and getting it to the NFL, posting its results yesterday. The study centered on Power 5 conferences only, but one reader did ask which Group of 5 teams were the strongest. Senior editor Mitch Light had this: “I went back to the 2010 draft—a bit arbitrary, but I had to start somewhere—and the Group of 5 team with the most draft picks? Boise State with 29, just ahead of Cincinnati with 28. That makes sense since both teams have been consistent winners for most of the past decade-plus. There were only two other programs that had more than 20 players drafted over this time frame—San Diego State (24) and UCF (23).”


Coincidentally, the Broncos current streak of players drafted began in 2010. With Skinner sure to go this week, the run will reach 14 consecutive years. If Ian Johnson had snuck into the seventh round in 2009, it would be 18—but oh well. The total during the current streak, as the St. Bonaventure guy mentioned, is 29. There have been four first-rounders, the last one Leighton Vander Esch to Dallas in 2018. The Broncos’ biggest haul of all-time came in 2012, about four months after the Kellen Moore era ended. There were six Boise State players taken, and one of them wasn’t Kellen. You had Shea McClellin and Doug Martin in the first round, Tyrone Crawford in the third, George Iloka in the fifth, Billy Winn in the sixth and Nate Potter in the seventh. The one with the most productive NFL career was actually Crawford.


Boise State coach Andy Avalos talked about it Friday on KTIK. Jordan Kay talked about it in the Idaho Press. There are some new rules in college football aimed at shortening games. One is not stopping the clock on first downs until the final two minutes of each half. The changes are expected to trim game lengths by about seven minutes. That’s not much at all. Here’s what would really help without shortchanging teams and fans. Shorten the length of the TV timeouts, which have gotten progressively longer as the years have gone by. There’s nothing more groan-worthy than seeing the guy with the digital countdown clock (the redcap) walk out on the field with two minutes and 45 seconds showing. And this is coming from the owner of an ad agency. Slash the time of the TV breaks. Get us out of the stadium in three hours!


Another early Boise State-Washington tickler for you. A Michael Penix Jr. tickler in particular. Penix, the Huskies’ star quarterback, is established as a 2023 Heisman Trophy candidate. Does he think about that? “I think about winning the national championship,” Penix said recently in the Seattle Times. “And whatever comes with that, comes with it.” UW is no doubt going to be really good, but those are lofty heights for a team from the Pac-12, a conference that has become a Power 5 afterthought even before the impending departure of USC and UCLA. There are concerns at Washington, though. As The Athletic points out, the biggest concern for Penix is the offensive line. The Huskies must replace Jaxson Kirkland, Corey Luciano and Henry Bainivalu, who finished with 90 career starts among them.


Chris Vannini of The Athletic says, “I love a good, old-fashioned ranking,” and he has one for Group of 5 quarterbacks in 2023. The order may be of interest to you. No. 6 is Taylen Green of Boise State. Writes Vannini, “Green took the reins five games into last season. As a redshirt freshman, he improved in a big way as the year went on, going 8-2 as a starter. The 6-foot-6 playmaker rushed for 10 touchdowns and should take a big step forward this year.” And No. 10 is Hank Bachmeier, with this from Vannini: “Bachmeier left Boise State four games into the 2022 season and landed with Louisiana Tech. He passed for more than 6,600 yards in his three-plus seasons at Boise State and can still be very effective when healthy.” The only other Mountain West QB in the top 10 was Chevan Cordeiro of San Jose State.


Word spread quickly last week of the death of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Wilcox, who made his mark with the San Francisco 49ers from the mid-1960s to the early 70s. After starring locally at Vale High, Wilcox came over to Boise Junior College to play for Lyle Smith in 1960-61. He transferred to Oregon and was a two-year standout for the Ducks before being picked in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Niners. Wilcox was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982. I interviewed him at a reception the night before the ceremony, and he could not have been nice despite being ferocious on the field. Treasure Valley nice. Vale nice. He spent a lot of time watching the Broncos in the late 2000s when his son Justin was defensive coordinator. Dave Wilcox was 80 years old.


The Idaho Steelheads need their scorers to score as they go into Game 3 of their first-round Kelly Cup Playoffs series against Utah tonight in West Valley City, and it starts with Ryan Dmowski. The Steelheads, coming off the best regular season in ECHL history, are in a two games-to-none hole against the Grizzlies. Dmowski, the Steelies’ leading scorer, averaged one goal per game against Utah during the regular season, tallying 18 times against the Grizzlies. He has none in the postseason—the Steelheads have scored only twice in the series.

So what will the road bring as Game 3 unfolds at the Maverik Center? The Steelheads have had five days to think about what’s happened. And there’s this: all of Utah’s wins over Idaho—four in the regular season and these two in the playoffs—have come in Boise. The Steelheads went 8-0 against the Grizzlies on the road this season. The next three games of this series are scheduled in Utah’s barn. First things first: the Steelies need to make sure the third one is even necessary.


A tweet from a St. Bonaventure fan group (SBUnfurled) went viral over the weekend, at least in Bronco Nation circles. An enterprising Bonnies fan looked at the production and playing time of 7,000+ men’s basketball transfers over the last eight seasons to see at which schools they progressed the most and regressed the most. Out of 353 Division I schools, No. 1 in “improved the most” was Boise State, a prosperous transfer place. And the Broncos were eighth in most playing time for transfers. So I guess you can say hello to your new friends, Roddy Anderson, Cam Martin and O’Mar Stanley.


If you’re a Boise State fan who keeps his or her eyes peeled, it was hard to miss the Tweet last Friday after the Santa Clarita Valley All-Star Game: “RECORD BREAKING 51 points & 15 rebounds in The Signal-Statham Academy SCV All Star Game for Andrew Meadow. Way to cap off a historic high school career in front of your hometown! Boise State has the most slept on player in the nation on the way!” Meadow, in his trademark long hair and goggle-like glasses, tore that thing up. Next stop: the Broncos, who appear to be loaded for the 2023-24 season.


One things people like about following College of Idaho football is the parade of Treasure Valley high school players who prosper in the program, especially below the 5A level. Following the Coyotes’ Purple & Gold Game last Saturday, there’s another one to watch. Caden Young, a junior out of Emmett High, made an impact in Simplot Stadium, throwing touchdown passes of 59 and 13 yards. Young is the early favorite to back up returning starter Andy Peters this fall (Peters, of course, is from Timberline High). Last Saturday’s event didn’t end spring football for C of I, though. The Yotes will hold another scrimmage this Saturday morning to wrap things up.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.

April 26, 2013, 10 years ago today: Jamar Taylor becomes the seventh Boise State player to be selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in the Chris Petersen era when he’s taken with the 54th overall pick by the Miami Dolphins. Taylor, a three-year starter for the Broncos, led the team as a senior with four interceptions while being named first-team All-Mountain West. He also shares the Boise State record for longest interception return, a 100-yarder against Arizona State in the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl. Tyric LeBeauf tied the mark with a 100-yard pick-six in the season opener at UCF in 2021.

(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.)

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