Scott Slant: Jeanty breaks through with broken tackles (2024)

Boise State’s Ashton Jeanty is surrounded by hype. How much depends on who you talk to, especially in NFL Draft terms. But his coach is fine with him.

BOISE, Idaho — Tuesday Special…June 25, 2024.

(Tom Scott’s feature will return Monday, July 1.)

Predictions for Boise State’s Ashton Jeanty in the 2025 NFL Draft vary wildly. Nowhere more so than in the rankings of the top five at every position by ESPN’s Matt Miller and Jordan Reid. Miller is no relation to the Broncos wide receivers coach by the same name, and it’s obvious when you look at his top five. Jeanty’s not in it. How about Reid? He has Jeanty as…drum roll…the No. 1 running back in the 2025 draft class, followed by Oklahoma State’s Ollie Gordon II, Ohio State's Quinshon Judkins, Georgia’s Trevor Etienne and North Carolina’s Omarian Hampton. Miller has Power 4 bias, and Reid doesn’t, I guess. Now it’s up to Jeanty. His stats are dazzling, but this one might be the key: according to Pro Football Focus, he’s by far and away the national leader among returning running backs in forcing missed tackles.

In case you missed it, Boise State coach Spencer Danielson was on ESPN’s College GameDay podcast with Rece Davis Monday. Davis wanted to know about Jeanty. “What’s the best description of dealing with him when he runs, as a defender?” Davis asked. Danielson replied, “He is that type of back that even before anybody in the country knew about him, he was giving our defense absolute fits. Not only can he make you miss in a phone booth, he could also go through you.” Danielson sounded like a stressed former defensive coordinator—but a happy head coach. Danielson also touched on an underappreciated Jeanty trait, leadership: “If someone’s not doing what they’re supposed to do, it’s not going to be me or a coach jumpin’ on him right away. It’s probably going to be Ashton, one of our leaders.”


New Boise State commits, that is. In the past 36 hours, the Broncos have added wide receiver Gavin Packer and edge rusher Lucien Holland, bringing the 2025 recruiting class total to nine. Packer, from Vancouver, WA, might fall into the “diamond in the rough” category. I don’t know if that’s fair, but his only other offers were from Air Force, Idaho, Idaho State and Eastern WashIngton. Holland is from Inglewood, CA, and is a 6-4, 215-pounder. He also had offers from Colorado State and Fresno State, among others.

Earlier over the weekend, Boise State picked up a commitment from De’Shawn Toilolo of Skyridge High in Lehi, UT. Toilolo is a 6-1, 215 pound edge rusher who, despite his size, has been “one of the more consistent performers in the offseason camp circuit, turning in dominant showing after dominant showing,” according to 247 Sports. Toilolo also had offers from Cal, Idaho and Navy, although 247 said San Diego State, Utah State and Oregon State were in “heavy pursuit.”


Intentional or not, Boise State has been loading up in the secondary in the 2025 class. The latest addition is Ja'Bree Bickham of McKinney, TX. Bickham is 6-4, he’s a safety, and he fast, with a 10.9-second time in the 100-meter dash under his belt. It’s hard not to think of JL Skinner—am I correct? Bickham’s other offers included Michigan State, where he was recruited by one-time Broncos assistant Keith Bhonopha. Four of Boise State first six commits were in the back end of the defense: Bickham, Christopher Solis-Lumar, Dominik Calhoun and Josiah Alanis. These guys won’t be playing this season, an alleged down year for quarterbacks in the Mountain West. But when they do suit up someday, whether they face highly-rated QBs or not, you’ve gotta like the Broncos’ chances.


Whenever stuff like happens, you’re going to hear Jeramiah Dickey’s name. Houston fired athletic director Chris Pezman last Thursday. Pezman had guided the Cougars department for six years, capped by last year’s entry into the Big 12. University president Renu Khalor said, “This was a difficult but necessary decision as we navigate a paradigm shift in collegiate athletics.” Not sure what that means, but Dickey is good at navigating paradigm shifts. Most importantly, he worked at Houston for 4½ years, topping out as Deputy Athletics Director in 2017 before going to Baylor. Dickey has been stellar at Boise State in terms of revenue generation, donor relations and vision for the future. Dickey’s been at Boise State for almost 3½ years. Houston will certainly reach out to him. How strong is the Big 12’s lure?


Yet to be decided by the College Football Playoff Committee: how it will decide which Group of 5 champion gets the coveted spot in the CFP. ESPN wants to know that criteria—don’t we all? What if Boise State takes a spanking at Oregon and also falls to one of the Pac-2 schools—but has an otherwise solid Mountain West championship season? Liberty got the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bowl spot last year by going undefeated in the regular season, despite not beating a single Power 5 team and fielding the easiest schedule in the entire FBS. Eight wins were over teams with losing records. That decision came from a committee that professes to like strength-of-schedule. If that’s the case this season, it’s disadvantage Broncos. After all, Liberty faces exactly zero Pac-4 opponents this year.


Boise State and Liberty are commonly mentioned as top candidates for the Group of 5 CFP spot. But a lot of folks are all about Memphis, especially after the Tigers picked up a commitment from four-star quarterback Antwann Hill of Warner Robins, GA. Hill was the top uncommitted QB left in the Class of 2025. He is seen as the heir-apparent to Seth Henigan, who goes into his fourth year as starter this season. Memphis also has a partnership with FedEx that provides $5 million per year in NIL deals. That is said to be one of the largest NIL investments in the country—Group of 5 or anywhere. Memphis bears watching around here this year as the G5 CFP race gets going, and it sets up a heckuva event on the Blue against the Broncos in September, 2026.


Boise State’s transfer portal diving is done for the upcoming men’s basketball season, we think. The Broncos roster is full, we think. Coach Leon Rice has signed Dominic Parolin, a 6-9 forward out of Lehigh—originally from British Columbia—and that’s a thick 6-9. Parolin, who averaged 11.5 points and 6.3 rebounds last season with 20 blocks, has one season of eligibility remaining. But Parolin may not be a threat to take any playing time away from teammates next season, as he’s coming off a torn ACL in March, and sources tell KTVB’s Jay Tust he’ll probably redshirt.


I’m like most of you—I don’t like the NCAA Tournament expanding. The NCAA has thrown out proposals for 72 or 76 teams versus the current 68. The preferable model would create a First Eight or First Twelve to replace the current First Four. Now, we know all about the First Four around here. Three of Boise State’s five berths in the Big Dance under Leon Rice have involved trips to Dayton. This last one was especially hard to swallow, because the Broncos were a No. 10 seed. Underthese new models, there would be lots of situations like that. There’s a certain feeling of inevitability here. Maybe Boise State looks at a silver lining, and the university tries to become Dayton West, as in, a permanent host for some of the First Eight or First Twelve games. Prospects of the first and second rounds ever returning to Boise are slim.


After three weeks off, Troy Merritt is back on his PGA Tour travels with the Rocket Mortgage Classic beginning Thursday in Detroit. The soon-to-be Boise State Athletic Hall of Famer missed the cut his last time out at the RBC Canadian Open. Merritt’s season earnings stand at $445,612—he 138th in the FedEx Cup standings, so he has some work to do to reach the No. 125 threshold that ensures him of a tour card next year. But there is time.


The Boise Hawks have laid down 20 runs in a game three times this season. The Hawks got a little of their own medicine Sunday when they closed out a three-game series in Idaho Falls with a 20-9 loss to the Chukars. Boise starter Robert Dudzinski went into the game 3-1, but he was tagged with eight earned runs without recording an out before being pulled in the bottom of the first inning. Oh well, it’s the Pioneer League. Those things happen. The Hawks open a six-game set at Ogden tonight. They go into it 18-12, tied for third and five games behind the league-leading Missoula Paddleheads.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by POOL SCOUTS…perfect pools, scout’s honor!

June 25, 1999, 25 years ago today: Two years to the day after being drafted in the first round by San Antonio, Tim Duncan is named Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals after the Spurs finish off the New York Knicks, four games to one, with a 78-77 win in Game 5. Playing alongside eventual Hall of Famer David Robinson, Duncan averaged 27.4 points and 14 rebounds per game in the series. It was San Antonio’s first-ever trip to the championship round. Incidentally, the point guard for the Knicks was Chris Childs, the first former Boise State player ever to appear in the NBA Finals.

(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.)

Watch more on Boise State Football:

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  • 'There's mom strength': Former Boise State All-American chases Olympic dream at track trials alongside son
  • No, the NCAA and Olympics have not banned athletes from drinking Celsius


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Scott Slant: Jeanty breaks through with broken tackles (2024)


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