Welcome to the fourth 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 UNLV.
4th in the MWConnection Recruiting Rankings
The plan for the Rebels this season was to finally get to the 6 win mark in the Sanchez era and get in a bowl game. Things did not go according to plan. The first three games were predictable; a loss to USC before back to back wins against FCS teams. It was after that where things began to take a turn. A close loss to Arkansas State was a game they should have won to keep their hopes alive. It was followed up by an embarrassing 36 point loss to the Lobos. Those were the first two of the six straight losses the Rebels would endure in the middle of their season. They did end their season on a bit of a high note, winning two of their final three. One was a surprising 27-24 win against San Diego State and the second was capturing the Freemont Cannon to close the season against in-state rival 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:
The Rebels come finish the early signing period second in our recruiting rankings, and it is well deserved. Per 247, they’ve made a big jump in the rankings, up 19 spots compared to where they finished with their 2018 class. Overall, they signed 15 commits this period, with 11 members of their class are rated as a 3 star, which forms a great core. They are also very balanced, with half of their class (7) coming on offense and the other half (8) on defense. They also boast a number of talented JUCO players in this class.
UNLV spread out on the recruiting trail, bringing in players from 8 different states. California leads the way with 5, and they dipped into Florida for two. There were only two signees from in-state Nevada, which was a bit of a surprise there wasn’t one or two more. There one each from Hawaii, Arizona, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
On the offensive side of the ball, there are a group of nice athletes. Led by QB Travis Mumphrey, who is in the Armani Rogers mold. Reece will be a speedy threat in the backfield, while Steve Jenkins and Malik Wesley compliment one another nicely at the receiver spots. They have a trio of offensive lineman and there is a lot to like there. Tatum is a nice JUCO addition who should plug and play, and Fautanu looks good at the center spot. Jackson McCullough is also someone who can jump into the mix next season.
Defensively, there looks to be potential standouts in every unit. Ehimare and Tuitasi look to be brought in to play right away and should form a nice combo of size and speed. Their linebacker corps may be the strength of the class. Former four star and now bounce-back Viramontes will make an immediate impact for the Rebels. The future is bright also with Beaudry, Robinson, and Windman. Fiaseu is one to keep an eye on in the backfield and could be a leader on their team in a few years. He’s joined by a JUCO player Lewis.
Number who signed in December: 15
Number who will enroll early: 9
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: They have 3 verbal commits who haven’t signed. I see a need for 2 DL, one more DB, an OL and maybe a TE. The verbals are a DE, DB, and OL.
UNLV has a very balanced class, in numerous ways. They have a pretty equal numbers on both offense and defense. They have a number of players, I believe 9, joining the team in January to get started in spring ball. They also did a good job bringing in talented high school players to form a future core and mixed in a hefty amount of JUCO players, many of who can make an immediate impact.
Like some other teams in the Mountain West, all the heavy lifting is done for the Rebels. They may scour the players still available in the next signing period, but I wouldn’t expect much as they checked off many boxes on their list. The first step is of course securing signings from the rest of their verbal commits. Those three would really round up the class nicely. Another high school defensive lineman to pair with their JUCO players would continue the trend of a very balanced class.
There is a lot to like here for the Rebels and they really recruited players who truly bought in to the program. That will pay off for them sooner rather than later as so many high school players are arriving in January.
Previous posts: Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State
Coming tomorrow: Utah State