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2019 Recruiting Breakdown: UNLV

Rebels are heavy are JUCO talent, but blend it nicely with some talented high school players.

UNLV v San Diego State Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

Welcome to the seventh post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #7 team in our rankings, UNLV.

UNLV turned in perhaps their best class in the Sanchez era. They found a bundle of high school talent and were able to compliment that group with a number of junior college talent, many of whom can step into roles immediately. Even better, the Rebels were able to get a good part of their class on campus for spring ball. How good can a class be with half of it being junior college players? Read below to find out.

The Skinny:

  • 21 players signed
  • 9 offensive, 12 defensive
  • 11 players listed at 3-stars by one of the major recruiting sites.
  • Breakdown by state: 10 California, 2 Nevada, 2 Louisiana, 1 Hawaii, 1 Florida, 1 Texas, 1 Arizona, 1 Colorado, 1 Georgia, 1 South Carolina
  • 108th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

QB Travis Mumphrey

  • Travis Mumphrey was a solid quarterback pickup for the Rebels in this class. He has a big accurate arm and moves around well in the pocket. Mumphrey can move well out of the pocket too, both scrambling out of pressure and on designed runs. As a passer, he is patient with his reads and is a good decision maker. Travis is definitely the quarterback of the future for UNLV and should see the field sooner rather than later.

RB Courtney Reese

  • Courtney Reese is a small running back who is full of speed. Looking like lightning in a bottle, he reaches top speed quickly and is at his best running outside the tackles. However, Reese can run between the tackles as well and once he finds a hole, he fully commits and takes off. He changes directions quickly and makes defenders look foolish as they try to tackle. him. Given Courtney’s skillset, he could see some snaps this season as few can match his game speed.

WR Steve Jenkins

  • Steve Jenkins is a dynamic wide receiver who should make a big impact for UNLV. He is at his best catching passes on the run over the middle of the field where he can wrack up big yards after the catch. Jenkins is fast, agile, and “slippery” when defenders try to tackle him, and getting him the ball should be a priority in an offense. Steve can also do well as a returner and is a good bet to get in a few games next season.

WR Malik Wesley

  • Malik Wesley is a good compliment to Jenkins as a bigger, taller wide receiver who can make an impact as a deep threat. He tracks the ball well in the air and can use his height to win jumps balls with ease. Wesley should be a main target in the red zone and effectively gets open when a big play is needed. He is also a willing blocker on running plays and helps his teammates get open when he commands double teams. Wesley is another player who could be brought into a few games next season to begin to get used to the college game, but has the potential to put up big numbers during his career.

Grad Transfer WR Jordan McCray

  • Jordan McCray is transferring to UNLV for his final college season after spending his previous seasons at Southern Alabama. He brings height (6’5”) and experience to the receiver position that can surely use it. McCray will be a great addition as a red zone weapon and is frankly just unfair on jump balls with smaller defenders on him. He gets good position with his routes to become open and runs a variety of routes. Jordan should compete for a starting spot right away.

OL Leif Fautanu

  • Leif Fautanu comes to UNLV from talent-rich Hawaii. He is quick off the snap and blocks with great leverage, making contact with players going low to high. Fautanu plays aggressive and rarely lets defenders break free. He was athletic enough to play on the defensive side of the ball and wouldn’t be bad there either. Leif may need a year or so to adjust to the college game but has the look of a multi-year starter on the interior of the line for the Rebels.

OL Garrett Beckman

  • Garrett Beckman is a huge offensive lineman who signed with the Rebels. He stays low on his blocks and appears to play pretty nasty on the field. Beckman is skilled at both run-blocking and pass-protection, but his specialty seems to be in the run game. He can pancake defenders, pull to the other side, and is mobile on tosses to the outside of the field. Beckman can be a nice weapon for future UNLV offenses and it shouldn’t be longer than a year or two before he sees the field.

JUCO OL Ryan Tantum

  • Ryan Tantum comes in from junior college with the body and ability to play right away. He spent his time at JUCO at right tackle and that seems like a good spot for him at UNLV. Tantum does a great job staying square on pushing defenders back on his blocks. He’s a monster in the run game, opening up huge holes and making him a running back’s best friend. Ryan is extremely mobile and should make an impact as soon as next fall for the Rebels.

JUCO OL Jackson McCullough

  • Jackson McCullough is another big junior college tackle coming in with this class. He is athletic and incredibly strong, getting out of his stance well once the ball is snapped and getting to his blocks quickly. McCullough does a nice job keeping his lower body moving and has good footwork. Jackson should get on the field next season in some capacity and will be looking to carve out his role.

DL Naki Fahina

  • Naki Fahina is an athletic defensive lineman who may need to add some weight before competing at the college level. He is very strong and uses good leverage to win his matchups against offensive linemen. Fahina is especially skilled and getting to the quarterback and wracking up hurries, pressures, and hits. This shows even when he doesn’t get a sack, he is disruptive and factors into the play. As stated above, Naki will benefit from a redshirt year to add weight but the skill is there.

JUCO DL Eliel Ehimare

  • Eliel Ehimare is a good find at the JUCO level. He plays with a high motor and is pretty fast for his size. Ehimare gets a good pass rush from the inside, bull rushing or displaying an effective swim-move to get past his blockers. He is always stout at stopping the run. Eliel is a good addition to the defense and to the Rebels.

JUCO DE Tavai Tuitasi

  • Tavai Tuitasi was a great pick up for UNLV in this class. He runs hard off the edge with one goal in mind, to get to the ball. Tuitasi is a terror for would-be blockers and quarterbacks alike, overpowering them with his strength. He usually starts pre-snap in more of a standing stance and it works for him and allows him to gain a step on blockers. Tavai should be a starter from the get go and could be among the conference sack leaders by the end of the season.

JUCO DE Noah McGregor

  • Noah McGregor is yet another junior college player in this recruiting class. He is strong at the line of scrimmage and gets off his blocks and into the backfield to make a play with regularity. McGregor is great at shutting down the run, as he can meet the backs at the line of scrimmage, making sure they don’t get far at all. Noah will have skills that will enable him to have a role next year to some degree.

LB Seth Robinson

  • Seth Robinson comes from powerhouse high school program Saguaro in Arizona. He is a talented defender; strong, fast, and physical who doesn’t quit on players. Robinson has great instincts and finds himself making play after play. He’s at his best getting after the quarterback, where he can use his speed and strength to get off blockers chase QBs. Seth could easily play next season and should be a starter before too long.

LB Kyle Beaudry

  • Kyle Beaudry is a very solid linebacker. He roams the middle of the field and flies around, flocking to the ball-carrier. Beaudry is great at stepping in to stop the run, diagnosing plays and moving quickly to where he needs to be to make the tackle. He has great closing speed and uses it in coverage in short passes as well. Kyle looks like a future starter at MLB, it’s just a matter of how long it will take for it to happen.

LB Jacoby Windmon

  • Jacoby Windmon is another athletic, outside linebacker in this class. He played a bit of wide reciever in high school and it shows the way he moves around the field and covers a lot of ground to make plays. Windmon runs smoothly and attacks the quarterback just as well as he picks up tight ends and running backs in coverage. He is a physical tackler and that plays well in run stoppage. Jacoby looks good as a weak-side linebacker and is could potentially play right away in the fall.

JUCO LB Vic Viramontes

  • Vic Viramontes was one of the top junior college players in the nation this cycle, and the Rebels were able to land him. He was a highly rated quarterback coming out of high school but shifted over to linebacker at JUCO. Viramontes looks great in the middle of a defense, running full speed into the trenches to lay physical hits on running backs. He moves well in zone coverage and is a fierce when blitzing as well. Vic will play immediately for the Rebels and should be one of the best players in their defense.

DB Austin Fiaseu

  • Austin Fiaseu a smart football play who can impact the game in a variety of ways. He is physical when playing in the box, matching hits from blockers and getting off of them to make tackles. Fiaseu also is a good open field tackler which suits him well when playing coverage. He reads plays well and puts himself in a position to make a play. Austin is a safety of the future for the Rebels and it’s only a matter of time before he puts his talent on the field.

JUCO DB Aaron Lewis

  • Aaron Lewis is a nice addition from the junior college ranks. He is a small but skilled player who is especially adept at covering slot receivers where he can match them with his speed and agility. Lewis stays very close on his man so he can make a play on the ball and he also tackles well considering his size. Aaron could find his way on to the field next season in sub packages and be effective.

JUCO DB Jeremiah Houston

  • Jeremiah Houston looks like a major addition to the secondary for UNLV. He is great in press coverage and tracks the ball extremely well, allowing himself to make a play when defending passes. Houston also possesses great closing speed, which enables him to recover well when getting beat. Jeremiah should compete for a starting spot next fall and if he gets it, don’t expect him to let it go.

JUCO DB Gamon Howard

  • Gamon Howard is the final junior college player being brought in for UNLV. He fits in best as a safety, given that he has a lot of range and it makes great use of his quickness when covering the field. Howard does very well tackling on the run in open field as well as using his hands to deflect passes. He takes good angles to the ball and can step up in stopping the run as well. Gamon knows what it takes to play in the secondary and that should be on display during his time with the Rebels.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Viramontes, Mumphrey, Robinson

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Viramontes, Mumphrey, Robinson, Beaudry, Tuitasi

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Fiaseu

Best unit:

Mike: Linebacker, Defensive End

Summary:

Again, this UNLV’s best class in recent memory and that cannot be understated. However, successful teams and programs are not sustained by bringing in junior college talent year after year and that held this class back from being higher. On the bright side, it should not hold them back from taking a step forward on the field, this year anyway. The high school talent is really intriguing and the sooner they can begin making an impact, the sooner the Rebels can start to contend for bowl games.

Previous: Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, Fresno State, Utah State, San Diego State

Tomorrow: Wyoming