He’s playing in the most brutal media market in the world, and before the most unforgiving fans. And he takes a lot of heat. But he remains a good teammate and a good citizen. Of the four first round draft picks in Boise State history, the one facing the most scrutiny as NFL OTAs roll out is New York Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson. Darrelle Revis is gone, but there are no guarantees for Wilson in the starting lineup. The Jets went right after Alabama corner Dee Milliner with the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft last month.
Does Wilson see Milliner as a threat to his livelihood? In a story by Newsday’s Stephen Braid in New York, it’s obvious Wilson just looks at what Milliner can bring to the Jets. "I'm kind of excited to see what he could do,” said Wilson. “He's kind of limited right now, but I figure he could help out the team so I look forward to getting him acclimated and getting him on the field so we can all make some plays." That’s the Wilson we remember from his Boise State days. Something else hasn’t changed. If you search for “Kyle Wilson” online, you’ll often find him involved in some kind of community outreach. Wilson and New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks were named 2013 Hometown Heroes by the United Way of New York at its 20th Annual Gridiron Gala in Manhattan Tuesday night.
Chris Chase of USA Today lists the nine most unique fields in sports this week, and you know I wouldn’t mention this if the blue turf wasn’t part of it. Yes, the blue comes in at No. 7. FYI, the others uniquely honored (in reverse order) are the red turf at Eastern Washington, Florida International’s beach-themed basketball court, Centre Court at Wimbledon, Houston’s Minute Maid Park and its centerfield hill, Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium, TD Garden (a.k.a. Boston Garden), the red clay of Roland Garros at the French Open, and the Brickyard at the Indianapolis 500.
Boise State and Utah State renew their rivalry this year. What is new Aggie coach Matt Wells doing for his summer vacation? He doesn’t have one. Wells is headlining a summer-long barnstorming tour across Northern Utah to fire up USU fans for the 2013 season after an 11-2 campaign and a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl victory last year. One of the key components is fundraising—the Aggies note that their $21.5 million budget in 2012 would have been 10th in the Mountain West, considerably behind UNLV ($54 million), San Diego State ($38.5 million) and Boise State ($31 million). There are six stops left on the tour, including one across the Idaho border in Preston. Maybe Wells can come back with a Napoleon Dynamite Endowed Scholarship.
In an Idaho SportsTalk interview Wednesday, College of Idaho football coach Mike Moroski threw one interesting name out there. Mountain Home’s Jake Hennessey, he says, will play quarterback for the Coyotes and will have four years of eligibility in 2014 after transferring from the University of Idaho, where he redshirted as a cornerback last year. Hennessey played catcher for the Yote baseball team this season, batting .282. Hennessey’s Vandal bloodlines are strong. His dad, Tom, was a star linebacker in Moscow in the mid-1980s and holds the Vandal record for single-season tackles with a staggering 180. Jake’s brother, also named Tom, is still on the U of I football roster.
Idaho has another representative in Seattle’s OTAs, joining Benson Mayowa and Korey Toomer. The Seahawks have signed former wide receiver Justin Veltung after he participated in the team's rookie mini-camp as a tryout player. Veltung was plagued by turf toe injuries last season as a senior for the Vandals and had only 16 catches. But he tells friends that he passed his physical in Seattle, and off he goes. For his career, Veltung logged 62 catches for 901 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had two kickoff returns and two punt returns for TDs.
It was Graham DeLaet’s best round of the year on the PGA Tour. The former Boise State star shot a six-under 64 yesterday and is tied for third at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial in Fort Worth. DeLaet, who posted five birdies on the front nine and six for the day, is just two shots behind first round leader Ryan Palmer. It seems rather certain he’ll make his 12th cut in 15 tries this season.
Other golf nuggets today: former Bronco Troy Merritt also came out of the gate strong yesterday, shooting a five-under 67 in the first round of the Mexico Championship in the city of Leon, smack in the middle of the country. Merritt is three shots back of leader Michael Putnam. Quail Hollow pro Jim Empey carded a four-over 75 in the first round of the Senior PGA Championship in St. Louis. Empey is in a 23-way tie for 106th with, among others, Ian Woosnam and Mark O’Meara. At least we can throw those names in there. And the College of Idaho’s Trish Gibbens qualified for today’s final round of the NAIA Women’s Championships in Lincoln, NE, by shooting a third-round 77 yesterday.
Top Boise State performers on day one of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Championships in Austin: Emma Bates, who qualified for her third straight NCAA Championships in the 10,000-meter run, and Jordin Andrade, winner of his heat in the 110-meter high hurdles. Athletes with the top 12 times or marks and the best 12 relay teams at the prelims will qualify for nationals in two weeks in Eugene. Highlights from the NAIA Championships: the College of Idaho’s Hillary Holt easily qualified for the finals in the 1500 meters, and Sora Klopfenstein made the 3,000-meter steeplechase final. On the men’s side, the Coyotes’ Austin Basterrechea leads after the first day of the decathlon.
Now that the Boise State men’s tennis season is over, collectively and individually, time for some Greg Patton perspective. On Bettles’ loss to USC’s Yannick Hanfmann Wednesday: “When the match was completed, both Andy and I felt like it was a movie in which the final credits started to roll across the screen way too early.” On his sky-high future outlook: “We not only have the meat and potatoes of our team returning, but we have three superb new players joining us next year, Brendan McClain, Abe Hewko, and J.P. Boyd, who were all top-ranked American juniors and had us ranked No. 12 in the national recruiting rankings. Wait to see our home schedule next year, for we are bringing some great teams to Boise and hunger to get into the top 10.” Don’t doubt Patton—he believes this (and it’s happened before).
This Day In Sports…May 24, 1981:
Bobby Unser crosses the finish line first in the Indianapolis 500. But after viewing film of the race, officials penalized Unser one lap for passing under the yellow flag and declared Mario Andretti the winner. Months later, the decision would once again be reversed and Unser would become the official 1981 Indy 500 champion.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)