Hawaii Bowl notebook: Oregon State coach Riley familiar with one Bronco

Jonathan Smith played a part in Oregon State's turnaround during the late 1990s.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comDecember 24, 2013 

HAWAIIAN MOMENT Six Boise State players visited Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu on Monday: sophomore safety Taylor Loffler, senior offensive lineman Jake Broyles, junior linebacker Travis Saxton, freshman safety Chanceller James, freshman offensive lineman Eli McCullough and freshman linebacker Joe Martarano. They handed out Boise State pennants, headbands and trading cards and chatted with the children who are at the hospital with orthopedic injuries. About 60 percent of the patients are from Hawaii; the other 40 percent come from other Pacific islands. Later, the group moved outside and tossed around footballs and shot baskets. The players who participated are sidelined with injuries. “Being injured, I really like when I get an opportunity to come to a place like this and make these kids smile,” Loffler said. “It’s a good feeling.” Above: Saxton plays catch with Ratu Toalevu, center, 5, of Fiji, and Malachi Iuriur, 10, from the Pacific island of Yap.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com

— Jonathan Smith walked on at Oregon State in part because he figured the higher levelhe could play, the more he would learn toward a coaching career.

He was recruited by Mike Riley, who brought Smith to Corvallis during his first stint as the Beavers’ head coach.

“I did learn a ton from him,” Smith said, “and it’s played out the way I thought.”

Smith, Boise State’s quarterbacks coach, will coach against his alma mater Tuesday in the Hawaii Bowl. He played quarterback for the Beavers and is one of the players Riley credits with turning a once-downtrodden program into one of the most consistent winners in the Pac-12.

Smith started 38 games in his career, beginning in 1998. He came off the bench to throw for a school-record 469 yards against Washington in a one-point loss.

“Nobody even knew who this kid was,” Riley said. “The headlines the next day were ‘Jonathan Who?’ That is the game that turned Oregon State around. Ken Simonton running the ball and Jonathan became the quarterback. We actually made it look like football. That was fun. … I have lots of respect, love, everything for Jonathan. I know he’s so proud to be in coaching, and I was really excited for him to get to go work with Chris (Petersen).”

Smith declined comment on his future, but the Seattle Times reported he will join Petersen at Washington.

Old friends clash

Five players from De La Salle High in Concord, Calif., will play in the Hawaii Bowl — three for Oregon State and two for Boise State.

Oregon State has running back Terron Ward, defensive end Dylan Wynn and fullback Tyler Anderson. Boise State has linebacker Blake Renaud and tight end Connor Peters.

Renaud and Wynn are particularly close.

“We kind of grew up together,” Renaud said.

Another connection: Paraclete High’s Darian Thompson starts at safety for Boise State, and Lavonte Barnett is a backup defensive end for Oregon State. Paraclete is in Lancaster, Calif.

Future connection

New Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford called junior quarterback Grant Hedrick when they were hired.

Hedrick didn’t know Sanford, but he was recruited by Harsin and played for him for a year when Harsin was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“I had a couple guys in mind that I really think would be good (for head coach), and (Harsin) was one of them,” Hedrick said. “He called me the night he got the job. I was excited to hear his voice. It’s been a few years, and it’s nice for me and a few other guys, not many, to have another familiar face coming back.”

Hedrick said he doesn’t expect juniors like him to experience big changes during their remaining time in the program. The changes, he said, will affect the young guys.

“The foundation has been set, so that’s good,” he said. “I think the real change will come with the younger guys. That will be our job to lead them, and they’ll have to make a little bit of an adjustment.”

Up-and-down Beavers

Washington beat Oregon State 69-27 on Nov. 23 in Corvallis. Six days later, the Beavers nearly won at Oregon — falling 36-35.

Those were their last two games of the regular season.

“We played so badly against Washington, I don’t even want to talk about it,” Riley said. “We just stunk, and then the next week we came back, and we might have played as well as we’ve played all year, so I was proud of them. It was a short week, and I was scared to death we were going to show up and play like we did against Washington. They played like crazy, and I hope that carries over into the bowl game.”

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398,Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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