Welcome to part eight 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.
Nevada: 5th in the MWConnection Recruiting Rankings
To say the Jay Norvell era got off to a rocky start is a bit of an understatement. It took them six tries to earn their first win. The opener to Northwestern was understandable, but the following two to Toledo and especially Idaho State were not. Following up that with Washington State and Fresno State were far from ideal. The Wolfpack finally got their first win over Hawaii, but they then began another three game losing streak, although the losses to Colorado State and Air Force were by a total of five points. They finished the season 2-2, with losses to Boise State and SDSU were alternated by wins over SJSU and UNLV. However, the program looks to be on the rise going forward.
Part of the reason for the struggles is Norvell brought in the air-raid offense and many of the current players were not ideal fits to the scheme. As the name would indicate, the air-raid leans heavily on the pass game. It isn’t an ideal offense for a running back; the RB should has good pass-catching skills as well as block and when they do run, they won’t have much extra blocking. There are 4 wide-receivers: two bigger ones on the outside working the boundary and deep routes with two smaller speedier guys on the inside working the middle and the shorter routes. This offense attempts to negate blitzing with quick short routes.
The Wolfpack also brought about a change of scheme on defense, moving to a 3-3-5. This defense puts an emphasis on speed over size and can rush 5 just as easily as it can drop 8 players back into coverage. One of the key is the front three stopping the run, using size (although they utilized productive undersized players this past season). The 3 LBs more or less have the same assignments they would in a 4-3 defense, although with more blitzing responsibilities. The 5 defensive backs can match up well in coverage against spread teams. Specifically the 5th DB can function a bit like a SLB, and is often the defenses’ best playmaker; able to blitz, stop the run, cover a TE or slot WR, or whatever else is needed.
The Road So Far
The key thing to look for here is how well are the coaches able to recruit players who can fit their system in hopes to speed up the process of rebuilding the program. Starting at quarterback, Norvell found a big thrower to be their future QB in Carson Strong who is a great fit for the air-raid. Devonte Lee is their RB and he is well-built at 210 lbs to handle being an air-raid RB. TE Darrell Fields looks the part of a big pass-catching target who can sub in and out to create matchup issues. They have 3 verbals on the line: Garrett Nickelson and Kevin Coblentz have college ready size while Jack Bolduc is more of a project, mostly because he will need to gain weight. They’ve done a very nice job finding 4 great receivers in this class. Cole Turner put up huge numbers this year and he and Romeo Doubs will be great on the outside. Inside, Charles Ross and Kashan Griffin will both have a chance to make an impact. Crishaun Lappin is being recruiting as a H-back, but has the potential to be an impact DE if they chose to use him that way.
Most of their work on the defensive side so far has been in the secondary, with little to action on the DL so far. JUCO LB pledge Rahsaan York is an incredible get for the coaches and will make an immediate impact for the team. A name to look out for in the secondary is Jaden Dedman, and he will be joined by fellow athletes Patrick Willis, Knowledge Smith, and Emany Johnson. Loading up on these players makes sense as they will play 5 DBs at a time.
Number Expected to Sign in December: Currently, 5 players have confirmed they will sign next week.
Number Expected to Enroll Early: 2 players have confirmed to be enrolling for the spring semester
Top Targets Remaining:
DL Adam Lopez, OL Penei Sewell, LB Giovanni Miranda, OL Moses Landis
The Road Ahead:
The coaching staff put a huge emphasis on athleticism and speed to fit both of their schemes and that is very apparent in their class so far. They’ve done a remarkable job at the skill positions, finding the WRs and DBs to make their system flourish in the future. Now the focus needs to be on the lines and at linebacker. Although the DL caused some havoc, they need to find some big recruits to plug in there for the future as well as finding one more OL guy to take a flier on in hopes he developed. LB is another big need, as York can play right away but the position needs to be restocked for the future.
Ideally, the Wolfpack locks down Miranda, who will go a long way towards that position and finds another LB to compliment him. Take a coin flip between Landis or Sewell as just one of them will really put the icing on a nice OL class. Lopez is versatile in the 3 DL scheme they play and finding another guy who can play multiple DL positions in this class.
Specific numbers in this class are not known, but if they have 4-5 spots left, the priority should be: 2 DL, 1-2 LB, 1 OL.
Up tomorrow: Fresno State