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Boise State football: Rip-roarin’ recruiting start

Boise State coach Andy Avalos has been through one signing day, but none of those recruits committed under his watch. Avalos now has one of his own—a big one.
Credit: KTVB.com
Aerial view of Boise State’s Albertsons Stadium, home of the blue turf.

BOISE, Idaho — Friday, April 2, 2021.

We had become accustomed to Bryan Harsin’s “Go Broncos” tweets when Boise State would land a new commitment. Andy Avalos introduced “Bleed Blue” Thursday, as in “#BL22DBLUE.” And this is a heckuva way for Avalos to start the Broncos’ 2022 recruiting class. It was no April foolin’ when Boise State landed its first commit, quarterback Katin Houser from St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, CA. Something about the Broncos program pushed him over the top. Houser had recently told 247: “Ideally, I would like to (make my decision) in early summer.” At that time he added, “It just looks like a place that I would be comfortable at and I’m going to try and get out there for the Spring Game if I can to take a visit.” Houser can still do that.

This is a crazy time for high school football players in California. Most of them are playing right now, and the good ones are dealing with recruiting, too. Houser juggled offers from, among others, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State—and settled on Boise State. According to recruiting analyst Greg Biggins of 247 Sports, Houser is “right there on the four-star bubble.” He’s a 6-3, 200-pounder from the same school that sent George Holani to the Broncos. Houser has skills. “He not only can escape pressure but does a really nice job getting outside the pocket and making throws down the field with accuracy,” writes Biggins. “In the pocket, he shows off a strong arm, a tight release and can make every throw on the field.”

THE TOE FROM ROCKY

Is there a better story in Boise State football right now than that of sophomore placekicker Jonah Dalmas? When the depth chart was released for the Broncos’ opener against Utah State last October, the only unfamiliar name in a starting position was Dalmas. Jonny Messina had transferred from FCS Stetson University in February, 2020, and it sounded like Eric Sachse, the sequel. Sachse, of course, came in as a graduate transfer in 2019 from Division III Trinity College and had a solid season for the Broncos, including a record-tying five field goals in his debut at Florida State. Well, Messina was not even listed on that first depth chart.

Dalmas told the media Monday that he contacted the Boise State coaching staff last year after returning from his LDS mission, more than two years after graduating from Rocky Mountain. Dalmas passed his first “video test” and was then invited to a “14-day tryout.” (A 14-day tryout?) The net result: Dalmas was the season-long starter, making all but one extra point and 7-of-8 field goals, including a pair of 50-yarders in the Mountain West championship game. He even punted when Joel Velazquez was inactive for the Colorado State, booting five times for a 35.9-yard average. Dalmas showed moxie. One season down, three to go. We never saw Messina, who is back in the transfer portal.

BATTLE OF THE DOMES

It’s a game fit for late November, but it’s taking place in early April. Idaho and Idaho State play for state FCS supremacy Saturday at Holt Arena in Pocatello. The Vandals quarterback situation is uncertain: the Bengals situation is not. Idaho went without Matt Beaudry last week in its wild come-from-behind win over Southern Utah. Beaudry was inactive—maybe COVID-related, maybe not. CJ Jordan started in place of Beaudry but was injured on a third quarter sack. It was No. 3 QB Nikhil Nayar who threw the winning touchdown with seven seconds left. For ISU, it’s been Wyoming transfer Tyler Vander Waal all the way. Vander Waal has completed 55 percent of his throws for 1,177 yards and 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

REWIND TO OPENING NIGHT

Now that the Final Four is set, it’s a good time to revisit Boise State’s season opener the day after Thanksgiving at Houston. While it was the Broncos’ season opener, Houston had already posted a 44-point win over Lamar two nights before. Boise State was without Emmanuel Akot, Devonaire Doutrive wasn’t yet eligible, and Derrick Alston Jr. was shockingly held scoreless in his hometown. The Broncos were overwhelmed early but closed the gap late, losing 68-58. Cougars star Quintin Grimes poured in 25 points, but Boise State held Houston to 41 percent shooting. Ironically, the soon-to-be-gone RayJ Dennis led the Broncos that day with 18. The Cougars have made the season count since then and are set to face Baylor on Saturday.

MERRITT IS TEETERING IN TEXAS

Troy Merritt did make the cut last week at the Corales Puntacana Resort Championship in the Dominican Republic. Merritt tied for 34th, although it could have been a lot better were it not for a final-round 75. He earned $14,350. It’s highly unlikely Merritt will play the weekend at the Valero Texas Open. The Boise State product and Meridian resident struggled through a four-over 76 Thursday in the first round at TPC San Antonio.

VAULT, BARS, BEAM & FLOOR

This is a big day for the Boise State women’s gymnastics team—and the 17th-ranked Broncos are hoping to make it two big days. They take on No. 6 Utah, No. 11 Arizona State and No. 21 Southern Utah this afternoon in the second round of the NCAA West Regional in Salt Lake City. Should it finish in the top two, Boise State will advance to the regional final tomorrow. The top two teams and the top all-around competitor (who is not on an advancing team) out of Salt Lake get automatic berths to the NCAA Championships in two weeks in Fort Worth, TX. The Broncos have never been to nationals, and it’s harder to get there under the current format, but that’s why they set up the equipment.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…April 2, 2011, 10 years ago today:

It was at least as amazing as Butler’s first run to the national championship game the year before. Virginia Commonwealth was playing in the Final Four. The Rams had finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association during the regular season. But they went from First Four to Final Four in a dizzying 12-day stretch, capped by a stunning 71-61 win over top-seeded Kansas in the Elite Eight. And lo and behold, it would be Butler who would finally eliminate the Rams 70-62 that night to advance to the national championship game versus Connecticut. (On Tuesday, UCLA became the second team to go from First Four to the Final Four.)

(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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