Welcome to part seven of our twelve-part series to kick off the recruiting season, and the final one of this week. The aim of these articles are to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, what to expect come December 20th, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February.
UNLV: 6th in the MWConnection Recruiting Rankings
The Rebels had an up and down season and ended up finishing 5-7 on the year, falling short of becoming bowl eligible. The year got off to a sour start when they dropped their opening game against FCS opponent Howard. They got back on track vs Idaho before getting trampled on by Ohio State. After opening conference play with a win against SJSU, UNLV dropped 3 straight with the only close game coming against Air Force. Then came back to back wins; an impressive one against Fresno State and a close one over Hawaii. Then an inexplicable loss against a struggling BYU, a close win against New Mexico and they ended their season losing their rivalry game against Nevada.
UNLV plays the ever-popular 3 WR set, like most teams that have been discussed so far. To review, the slot-receiver tends to be smaller and quicker than a traditional receiver. In the slot, there is a tendency to run short quick routes designed for quick-hitters or getting the ball in space to utilize the speed. On the outside, routes often are a bit long-developing. Tight-ends usually have dual-responsibilities these days, with an edge to being a pass-catcher over the middle first, and blocking second. However that blocking remains important in the single-back system most teams employ, as does having a RB that can break tackles in the backfield and has the ability to catch passes.
On the defensive side of the ball, they play an adjusted 4-3, or less. Two very big DTs on the inside, with a more traditional DE on one side. On the other, they have a hybrid player, called a REBEL who has the primary responsibility of an edge rusher, but also drops back into coverage at times. They also have 3 traditional LBs with 4 traditional DBs behind them. The back 7 have similar responsibilities as have been covered in previous posts.
The Road So Far
UNLV has secured 16 commitments so far in this recruiting cycle. Only 2 have come for in-state Nevada, which is important to note only because Coach Sanchez made that a priority upon getting hired. Actually they gotten a few players from multiple states: 3 from each of Arizona and California and Texas, plus one from Utah and one from Kansas. They have 8 commitments on each side of the ball, so that has been very balanced.
Looking at their offense, it starts with quarterback. This weekend, they pulled off one of the biggest gets so far in MWC recruiting with former Cal QB Max Gilliam, who will almost certainly start and be one of the better passers in the conference. High school QB Kenyon Oblad is no slouch either, so the position is well stocked for the future. They also boast a pair of big tight ends in 6’5 Jonah Laulu and 6’4 Ben Redding, who will be matchup nightmares. RB. verbal Chad Magyar continues the trend with big size at 6’1 and it would not be a surprise to see the hard runner put his talent on the field next season. Patrick Ballard and Jarik Caldwell will also pose matchup problems at the wide-receiver position, and they are adding size to the line with 330lb Eric Brown and 280lb Bryan Catchings. There was a theme this year in their offensive recruiting and they are checking off many boxes.
Taking a peak at the other side, the Rebels coaching staff found players who fit their system well. Starting with the big DTs, Chris Manoa (300lbs) and Moa Heimuli (280) have the size to play right away. DE Timothy Mosley projects as one of the best pass rushers coming into the conference next season. Austin Ajiake should slide right in to an OLB spot and their secondary is loaded. JUCO S Myles Plummer will fill an immediate void and high school athlete Phillip Hill displays an impressive highlight tape. Manning the corners are Bryce Jackson, local recruit Octavian Bell, and recent verbal Luca Vartic is versatile enough to play in any spot.
Number Expected to Sign in December: At this time, 4 recruits have confirmed they will sign early.
Number Expected to Enroll Early: 1 recruit has confirmed that he will enroll for the spring semester.
Top Targets Remaining:
JUCO DB Terin Adams, DB Michael Washington, OLB Jermayne Lole, OLB Rocky Katoanga, OL Blake McDonald, OL Randon Haynes, OL Alama Uluave, JUCO OL Joshua Gray
The Road Ahead:
The UNLV staff has done a great job putting together a solid class that rank right up there with most other schools in the conference. They’ve checked off most of their “recruiting wish list” and the players fit well in their system. Although they will stay busy between now and February, they are on the home stretch as opposed to the opening mile.
From their recent offers and in-home visits, it is clear they are still looking for another DB, though they have quite a few already. Ideally, they land one of them along with one last DE, a few more OL recruits and 2 LBs. Adams or Washington would be great, with the former a plug and play and the latter more of a development. Katoanga would look great as a SLB, and any of the offensive lineman would compliment their current pledges nicely.
All in all, as long as they land a few additional players at key spots, it will be a very successful 2018 class for the Rebels. Their order of importance position-wise seems to be: LB, OL, DE, DB. They have already hit home-runs at QB, RB, TE, WR, and S. A few doubles (gotta love cross-sports references right?) or better at the remaining positions will be a huge accomplishment for Sanchez & co.
Up tomorrow: Nevada