Welcome to the second piece in our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. The aim of these articles is to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February. One team a day will be featured, in order of where they fall in their current MWCConnection ranking. Today looks at Nevada.
2nd in the MWConnection Recruiting Rankings
Nevada was one of the better teams in the Mountain West this season, going 7-5 and earning a bowl berth. They emerged from non-conference 2-2, but beat Oregon State while losing to Toledo, so there were still some question marks. Their conference slate was front loaded; dealing with triple option Air Force and then losing to Fresno State and Boise State in consecutive weeks. Then they rattled off four straight wins, with only SDSU being a close game. They lost their rivalry cannon game against UNLV but still have the bowl game yet to play.
Offensively, they run the air-raid. As the name suggests, it 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 3-4 wide-receivers on the field: 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 run a 3-3-5 defensively, which 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:
Nevada had one of the more unique classes in the Mountain West this season in the sense that the core of their class was in place by July. They brought in 17 players, as they added a few during the stretch run at the end of the season. 7 of those players were on offense, which means 10 are defensive recruits. 9 players hail from California, but they also recruited well in Texas (4), and Arizona (3). They found a player in Georgia as well. No in-state talent was surprising to see.
Looking at the offense, Henry Ikahihifo at tight end could be considered the headliner. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him playing next season. They brought in a really nice QB with Kirksey and he will have time to learn the offense and continue developing. Both wide receivers fit the offense very well; Lockhart with size on the outside and Stovall with his athleticism and route runner on the inside. The OL has one guy, Price, coming in to help immediately. HS players Welch and Baughman both have high upside and bring a lot of size to the position.
The defensive recruits are very interesting to me and full of athletic players who carry a lot of potential upside. The defensive line has a bright future with Breylan Garcia coming in on the edge. He’ll be joined by Arnold and Brunson, so both bring strengths with them in their own right. Two versatile linebackers with join the fold. Jalen Williams and JaVanz Dornners could slot in to their 3-3-5 scheme nicely, being able to cover ground and make plays in the open field. However, it is the secondary that is the unit to really solidify the class. Cam Stephens looks to be a corner with the talent to contribute right away and Kieran Clark brings good size to the CB spot. The three safeties are all playmakers and athletes with height, notably the 6’3 Carrington and 6’1 Williams. Godley is the guy I see fitting well in the 5th DB playmaking spot, although any of the trio would be intriguing there.
Number who signed in December: 17
Number who will enroll early: 3
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: There isn’t much room left, but look for them to add two or three players.
This was always going to be a smaller class for Nevada, though they were able to add a few extra with attrition at the end of the year. Back in the summer they alluded to only being able to take 15 players and they ended up taking 17. Due to this, their road ahead will look different than other teams in the sense that they can really put their full attention into evaluating and offering players in the recruiting class of 2020.
If they add more players, look for them to come from the JUCO ranks or a transfer from another school. With the core group locked in, they can now be a bit more choosy about their remaining players and add someone who could fill a more immediate need and also keep the classes balanced. It would also make sense for them to identify key players for preferred walk-on spots from now until February. Some of these players could be overlooked in-state talent and others may be raw recruits at positions of need who could develop into fine players.
Although they can’t conduct in home visits with high school players in the 2020 class, it would not be at all surprising to see some offers go out to those recruits. Having a complete class allows the coaching staff to have undivided attention on future classes. This could give Nevada a possible advantage as other MWC schools are still balancing this class with future ones.
Previous posts: Boise State
Coming Monday: Fresno State