Hilton Richardson cracked a big smile Monday and thought about how life brought him back to Boise, where he defied the odds to even be in the first place.
Boise State hired Richardson as its first assistant baseball coach Monday, bringing him back to the campus on which he first arrived seven years ago — as a football player.
Richardson, who played minor league baseball for five years in the Royals and Braves systems (323 games), decided to give football a try and played for Boise State in 2011 and 2012.
"Life's got a funny way of bringing you full circle, it's an incredible opportunity to be back," Richardson said.
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A 2014 graduate of Boise State, Richardson knew Boise State coach Gary Van Tol from his post-football days, assisting with video for the Boise Hawks and coaching Timberline High's junior varsity team. He's served as the Philadelphia Phillies' Northwest area scouting supervisor since graduation, living in his home state of Washington.
"Hilton represents everything Boise State is all about and what it means to be a Bronco," Van Tol said in a statement. "He brings to the table an unselfish work ethic with humility, integrity and professionalism. The road he has traveled will make an immediate impact on our program and the student-athletes he comes in contact with."
Between Van Tol, who played and coached at Gonzaga, and Richardson, whose contacts in Idaho and surrounding states are plentiful, the baseball program has two coaches with Northwest roots and pro experience.
Boise State will play its first game in February 2020, having revived the program last year after it was axed in 1980. Van Tol has been the lone staff member but has more than a dozen recruits committed, with 8-10 set to join this fall. Boise State recently got approval to have a stadium design drawn up, the first step toward an on-campus facility being built.
"It's incredible ... the (baseball) program didn't exist when I was here," Richardson said. "I fell in love with this place as soon as I showed up. Here we are seven years later going to start something brand new.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet. I think when they start breaking ground it's going to be real."
Richardson came to Boise State after the scout that put him on the Royals' radar called then-assistant Jeff Choate and got Richardson a workout. He never had played football before but impressed the staff with his size and athleticism. A walk-on, he played receiver, nickel and defensive end, seeing some action on special teams.
After taking a chance on coming to Boise, taking on a new sport and changing positions, Richardson hopes his "all in" attitude trickles down to the Broncos' baseball players.
"We're going to be able to have our fingerprints on the program. ... It's going to be something special," Richardson said.
DURYEA HIRE FINALLY OFFICIAL
The Boise State men's basketball team made its hire of Tim Duryea official Monday — though it was hardly a secret, reported by the Idaho Statesman on April 24.
Duryea was the head coach at Utah State for three seasons from 2015 to 2018, and had been an assistant for the Aggies since 2001 prior to his promotion. In a statement, Duryea said, "I've always had a lot of respect for Coach (Leon) Rice and his program." He also has been an assistant at North Texas and Colorado State, plus four seasons at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.