St. Patrick’s Day has a little different meaning around the Boise State football program.
It’s Lyle Smith’s birthday. And on Tuesday, the former Boise State athletic director and longtime Boise Junior College football coach turned 99.
As usual, the Broncos helped him celebrate. Coach Bryan Harsin presented Smith a No. 99 jersey and a fedora. The jersey will go nicely with the No. 98 he received last year.
The players and staff gathered around Smith after practice to sing him “Happy Birthday” and hear a few words from the legendary coach, who led BJC to the junior college national title in 1958. The meeting ended with the team singing the fight song.
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“To me, it’s truly amazing just to know how long he’s been here,” senior safety Darian Thompson said. “They say this is his 70th season, and he’s still going strong. I see him all the time through the facilities and he’s happy as can be. He doesn’t look 99, so I’m just proud of him and hopefully he just keeps on pushing strong.”
Smith told the players he expects to return in 2016 to celebrate the century mark.
“He said that this has been a few years now that we’ve actually greeted him on his birthday, so why change it? And he’s going to keep on coming back,” Thompson said. “He said he’s never seen a program like us just get better week by week like we have and just keep it up and he’ll be rooting for us.”
Junior wide receiver Chaz Anderson said he is “dumbfounded” by Smith’s longevity and loyalty.
“Seeing him out there and still going strong and being a proud supporter of the Broncos is something I feel isn’t at every other school, so being able to look out there and see the support system we have is fantastic – something we really take to heart.”
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The Broncos held practice No. 5 of spring ball Tuesday. It was the second workout that was open to the media for about 15-20 minutes, so we’ve got some fresh highlights posted above.
The first scrimmage is Thursday, but it’s closed to the public and media. That’s the last practice before the team scatters for spring break.
“Usually it’s a little bit rough just because there are so many new calls coming in and a lot of guys are nervous and anxious because they have some time off and now we’re actually going to go live,” Thompson said. “And usually the offense tries to throw some trickery our way.”
“I’m expecting a lot of touchdowns and a lot of sad faces on the defensive side,” he said.
Thompson and Anderson provided contradictory views on how the first five practices have gone.
“We’ve been putting up good numbers against the offense during the spring,” Thompson said. “We’ve just got to continue to grow off of that.”
Said Anderson: “We had a few low points, but the majority of them have been high.”
A few notes from associate head coach/special teams coach/tight ends coach Kent Riddle:
– On the spring: “The guys are working real hard. Obviously we’re not as polished as we want to be or need to be but we feel like we’re making improvements every day. We’ve got guys stepping up. The great thing about spring ball is you’ve got a ton of guys getting work on stuff you haven‘t really seen them do. So far, so good.”
– On moving from running backs to tight ends to make room for Lee Marks as running backs coach: “I’m not an idiot. Jay (Ajayi) left so I decided somebody else should handle that problem and I’d go where we had some young talent. ... No, it’s great to be back (with the tight ends). It’s a great group of guys. I miss the running backs. Those guys are going to do big things for us, too.”
– On kicker Tyler Rausa, who replaces Dan Goodale: “Tyler Rausa’s been awesome this spring.”
You can watch today’s interviews below.
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Boise State’s annual pro day for last year’s seniors to perform in front of NFL scouts is Wednesday. The school will stream the event from noon to 1 p.m. at BroncoSports.com with commentary from the current Boise State coaches.
The scheduled participants include tailback Jay Ajayi, quarterback Grant Hedrick, wide receiver Matt Miller, cornerbacks Bryan Douglas and Cleshawn Page, defensive end Beau Martin, linebacker Blake Renaud, tight end Connor Peters and kicker Dan Goodale.
A few notes:
– Ajayi will only do position drills, according to the agency that represents him. He performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine in the testing.
– Miller is healthy and will be a full participant, according to his agent. Miller missed most of last season with an ankle injury sustained in September.
– Renaud will work out as a fullback. Hedrick has been impressed with him in that role.
– Hedrick’s receivers will include Ajayi, Miller, Renaud and Peters.
We’ll have full coverage of the event, including video and analysis, throughout the afternoon and evening Wednesday.
Here are our print and video stories on Hedrick from last weekend.
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SPRING BALL COVERAGE