Scott Slant: Malachi or Mad Dog – it’ll be a while (2024)

National college football writers don't quite know what to make of Boise State’s quarterbacks room. So, well, one made up a category for it.

BOISE, Idaho — It’s the time of year for preseason magazines and national takes. This is from the national takes department. And it’s strange. ESPN’s David Hale puts all 134 FBS quarterback situations into tiers, and he has Boise State’s Malachi Nelson and Maddux Madsen in Tier 11b: “Movin’ on…down.” Well, 11b doesn’t sound good, and neither does “down.” But Hale paints this as, “The portal works both ways, and so a few teams outside the Power 5 have benefitted by adding some players who likely wouldn't have even considered these locales coming out of high school, led by Nelson, USC's former five-star gem.” So, this is a good thing?

What’s going to be fascinating is who offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter trots out at Georgia Southern on August 31. It truly could be either one, Nelson or Madsen. Nelson hardly played last year at USC—1-for-3 for zero yards. But he was prominent during Broncos spring football, going 9-for-16 for 137 with one touchdown and no interceptions in the Spring Game. Madsen sat out the spring but played a lot last year, completing 61.4 percent of his throws for 1,191 yards and nine TDs versus three picks. After fall camp, Dirk will know best.

LOOKING FOR ATHLON NUGGETS

The preseason college football magazine tour has us in Athlon. Boise State, Athlon’s prediction to win the Mountain West, is No. 36 nationally, second in the Group of 5 behind Liberty, the pick to make the College Football Playoff. Ashton Jeanty is a second-team All-American—not at running back, but as an “all-purpose” player, a nod to the fact he led the nation in yards from scrimmage last season at 159.7. Jonah Dalmas is a third-team All-American. You get a little further into the weeds, and you see Athlon has junior college transfer Daylon Metoyer as the No. 7 recruit in the Mountain West this year. Metoyer is an offensive tackle and was a JC All-American in 2023. Now that he’s on campus, he could jump right into the competition for the one open spot on the Boise State O-line at right tackle.

THE CLASS OF 2025 EMERGES

Catching up on Boise State’s commitment list—the news last Saturday had Christopher Solis-Lumar becoming the Broncos’ fifth verbal of the 2025 recruiting class. Solis-Lumar is a 6-2, 175-pound cornerback from Glendora, CA. His other offers included San Diego State. Now I don’t usually mention uncommitted prospects, but Boise State is in the running for the state of Hawaii’s No. 1 recruit, Jason Keawe Sagapolutele of Ewa Beach. Sagapolutele took his official visit to Boise this past weekend. He’s now in California for the finals of the prestigious Elite 11 QB camp. Sagopolutele will wrap up his week with an official visit to Cal and won’t make a decision until at least after that trip, according to Brandon Huffman of 247 Sports. He took earlier officials to Utah State and Oregon State. One to watch

SHAK’S MOM KNOWS FOOTBALL

Wide receiver AJ Jones of Vista Murrieta High in California, same school as Khalil Shakir, committed to Boise State last week, and he immediately got an endorsem*nt Bronco Nation has to like. Shakir’s mom, Mona, tweeted: “Let’s go! Proud of you AJ Jones! Boise State…Y’all will not be disappointed!” Jones, who has run a 10.8 in the 100-meter dash, also had offers from Fresno State and Army, among others. Speaking of Shakir, a Buffalo radio host reported last week that he “left (Bills mini-camp) practice early with what appeared to be some sort of lower body injury. He was chatting with trainers for a while, then limped off the field and into the fieldhouse and did not return.” But the latest reports say he’ll be okay. Shak is the Bills’ top returning receiver, having hauled in 39 catches in his second NFL season.

ANOTHER CORNER

Josiah Alanis of Evergreen High in Vancouver, WA, also committed to the Broncos last week. 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 SD. As well as the web of connections with the staff in general."

GREEN’S SCENARIO IN FAYETTEVILLE

In Athlon, you can drift off the Boise State page and check out Arkansas, and it’s pretty darn interesting. That’s, of course, the new home of quarterback Taylen Green, still the only starter the Broncos have lost to the transfer portal since Spencer Danielson was named head coach. The cloud hanging over the Razorbacks is the hotseat on which coach Sam Pittman sits after a 4-8 season last year. Pittman brought in the inimitable Bobby Petrino to fix the offense after they gained only 4.5 yards per play in SEC games last season. And Petrino is betting on Green as his starting QB. Athlon ranks Arkansas’ quarterbacks as the 13th-best unit at that position in the 16-team SEC. By all accounts, Taylen made great strides as a passer this spring, but there’s a lot of pressure on him.

A COOL COLLEGE FOOTBALL LIST

This is cool from ESPN.com—College football's 30 most influential teams ever. And we’re talkin’ all the way back to the 19th century. No. 22 is 2006 Boise State. Bill Connelly gets it said: “Just a decade after making the jump from FCS, Boise State found itself playing Oklahoma in a major bowl game. The Broncos had gone a combined 36-3 from 2002 to ‘04, playing a beautiful brand of innovative and just plain old fun football under Dan Hawkins. In 2006, Hawkins left for Colorado and Chris Petersen took over. BSU ranked second in the nation in scoring. And it finished the season by winning one of the most incredibly fun games of all time against one of the sport's bluest blue bloods. Boise State taught us that almost any school could build a winner and that you could have a whole hell of a lot of fun winning games.”

REVENUE – WHEREVER YOU CAN GET IT

This is cringy but not unexpected. The Athletic’s Chris Vannini reports that “the Big 12 isn't the only conference considering selling its naming rights. At least three Group of 5 leagues are talking about it, he says, including the American, Conference USA and the Mountain West. “Nothing should be off the table," AAC commissioner Tim Pernetti tells The Athletic. C-USA first broached the subject when it was on the ropes three years ago. What can you do? The Pepsi Mountain West? The Coors Light Mountain West? Or skip right to gambling and make it the Circa Resort & Casino Mountain West. It might be a necessary evil for the Group of 5, as schools will see less money from the NCAA while the organization covers the back pay damages from the landmark House settlement this month. And a pittance from the CFP.

CARDENAS’ PRIOR COMMITMENT

A week and a half into summer workouts, Boise State basketball is in “getting acquainted” mode, as a slew of newcomers mesh with the returnees. Everyone’s on campus—except Alvaro Cardenas, the transfer from San Jose State. Cardenas is in his native Spain as a member of that country’s U22 team. (It doesn’t appear that he’s part of the squad taking part in Olympic qualifying.) It does mean he’ll be a late arrival. Cardenas was born and raised in Granada, Spain, before coming over to the states. He was a team captain for the Spartans last season and averaged 13.1 points per game.

NOT TOO SOON FOR PLAYOFF TALK

With the Pioneer League season split into two halves, it’s not too early to take a peek at the Boise Hawks’ playoff hopes. We’re at the midway point of the first half now, with the top two first-half teams making the postseason. The Hawks are 16-9 and are in second place, four games behind the league-leading Missoula Paddleheads after Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to Idaho Falls at Memorial Stadium. Going into this latest installment of the Highway Series with the Chukars, Boise’s Troy Viola was third in the league with a .424 batting average while the Hawks had three of the circuit’s top five pitchers in ERA, Robbie Dudzinski, Luke Malone and Mike Peterson. The Hawks have two more at home versus the Chukars before going to Idaho Falls for three more games over the weekend.

IT HITS LIKE A TON O’ BRICKS

I thought Willie Mays would live forever. My dad took me to my first baseball game in San Francisco when I was seven years old, and I couldn’t wait to watch Willie. I took a marker and wrote a big “24” on the back of one of my white T-shirts to wear when we played baseball in the neighborhood. After the Giants traded him to the Mets in 1972, I attended his first game back in San Francisco. The 41-year-old Mays hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning that accounted for the winning runs in a 3-1 Mets victory. He brought so much joy to kids young and old. The best ever. RIP Willie.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…June 19, 1966:

Arnold Palmer blows a seven-shot lead with nine holes to play in the U.S. Open. Arnie then lost to Billy Casper in an 18-hole playoff for the title at the Olympic Golf Club in San Francisco. That left the 1960 U.S. Open as the only one in which Palmer was victorious. The late-round collapse was not entirely unlike the one Rory McIlroy experienced last weekend in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. McIlroy, too, has only one U.S. Open victory—and that was 13 years ago. Palmer had already won seven majors at that point. Rory, age 35, has four major titles but hasn’t taken one since the 2014 Open Championship. Palmer, then 36, would not win another major in his career, and now, McIlroy can only hope he does.

(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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  • This Day In Sports: Kershaw curtails every Rockies bat
  • Boise State basketball to participate in 2024 Cayman Islands Classic

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Scott Slant: Malachi or Mad Dog – it’ll be a while (2024)

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