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2020 Recruiting Breakdown: UNLV

A class built on star power.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Nevada David Calvert-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the second post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #2 team in our rankings, UNLV.

The 2020 UNLV recruiting class was pretty strong in the fall and likely would’ve been in the top half of the conference had things continued down that road. Instead, there was a coaching change, and the Rebels signed no one in December. But Coach Arroyo and his staff did tons of work in January, adding major talent to the recruits they were able to keep, and ending up even better than before. It’s a class led by star power at the top, as can be seen below.

The Skinny:

  • 28 players signed
  • 13 offensive, 15 defensive
  • 1 player listed at 4-stars by one major recruiting site.
  • 21 players listed at 3-stars by 247 composite.
  • Breakdown by state: 12 California, 3 Texas, 3 Washington, 2 Oregon, 2 Louisiana, 1 Alaska, 1 Arizona, 1 Indiana, 1 South Carolina, 1 Tennessee, 1 Utah
  • 76th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

QB Doug Brumfield

Doug comes in as the high school quarterback taken in this class. He’s a southpaw who is comfortable, and loose going into his drop back and steps into this throws well. Brumfield makes quick decisions and fires darts on nearly every throw. He is capable of extending plays with his legs, tucking the ball and running elusively for yards. Doug looks poised to be the quarterback of the future for the Rebels, and the only question is when does the future start.

Transfer QB Justin Rogers

Justin was a huge get as a transfer in this class for Arroyo. He is a former elite recruit who is transferring from TCU. Rogers is a dual-threat in every sense of the word; he has a rocket arm that is fully on display in his throws and runs hard as he breaks tackle sand bounces off players. He is a game-changer with the ball in his hands, and it’s easy to see him piling up the yards through the air and on the ground. Justin didn’t come to UNLV to sit on the bench and should be the clear starter as soon as he is eligible, which he is appealing to play next year.

RB Spencer Briggs

Spencer played both ways in college but will be a running back in college. He is in the mold of a one cut and go back, giving him the potential to take it to the house on any given carry. Briggs reaches top speed as soon as he hits the hole, allowing him to explode past defenders and break arm tackles. He has good vision on the field, finding the right holes, and knowing when to bounce to the outside. Spencer was a bit of an unknown in the recruiting world but has the skills to get carries and produce in this offense.

RB Dylan Downing

Dylan is the other running back taken in this class, and he too is full of big plays on his tape. He is more all-purpose, displaying the ability to line up as a slot receiver and all catch balls in the flat or on screen plays. Downing makes many players miss with his shiftiness and constant change of direction. He displays good hands and also isn’t afraid to be a blocker and do the dirty work. Dylan will benefit from learning the offense and redshirting next year, but it won’t be long before he starts getting snaps in a variety of ways on offense.

WR Kyle Williams

Kyle is a two-way high school player who will be suiting up for UNLV next season. He is dangerous in the open-field, capable of turning any play into a home run. Williams possesses excellent speed and changes directions smoothly, allowing him to be evasive with the ball in his hands. He is also a talented returner and should be at the college level as well. Kyle will benefit from a redshirt year but will be able to get on the field quickly thanks to his big-play potential.

WR Kalvin Souders

Kalvin is part of the trio of wide receivers in this class. He looks well-rounded on film, capable of lining up outside, or in the slot, catching short passes on quick routes or making a big catch deep. Souders appears to be a polished route-runner and tracks the ball well in the air allowing him to make difficult catches. He is shifty and quick with the ball in his hands and has a nose for the end-zone. Kalvin projects best as a slot receiver and will be a staple in a future Rebel offense.

WR Zyell Griffin

Zyell is the third wide receiver in this UNLV class. He is an explosive athlete who turns small gains into big plays thanks to his speed and athleticism. Griffin’s quickness allows him to gain a few strides on defenders, and his catch radius sets him apart on the field. In his film, it’s clear that he is difficult to tackle as his legs rarely stop moving. Zyell should develop into a productive wide receiver for the Rebels down the line.

TE Alex Lines

Alex is one of the top tight ends in this class, and UNLV was able to secure him. He comes as a well-rounded player, able to block and catch with equal skill. Lines took a lot of snaps as more of an H-back, so he is versatile too. Regardless of where he lines up, he is a threat to deliver a powerful block as well as make a difficult catch thanks to his long arms and huge hands. Alex is a great pickup and will make an impact in the offense in multiple ways once he gets on the field.

TE Kaleo Ballungay

Kaleo is another tight end coming to UNLV in this class. He is more of the deep thread in the middle of the field, covering a lot of ground in his strides and high-pointing the ball well to make difficult catches. Ballungay is a true deep threat thanks to some sneaky speed, but his height can also be used well in the red-zone where he can out jump defenders. Looking at his film, he’s a mismatch any time he goes out on a route. Kaleo is an offensive coordinator’s dream with his potential and will be a major weapon once he adjusts to the college game.

OL Alani Makihele

Alani is a two-way player who is slated to be on the offensive line for UNLV. He is a steady blocker who makes contact immediately after the snap. Makihele is a significant force in run-blocking, pushing back the defense and consistently getting in the second level for additional blocks. He delivers pancake block after pancake block thanks to his size and strength. Like most offensive lineman recruits, Alani is almost sure to redshirt next year but should be a starter down the line.

OL Jeminai Leuta-ulu

Jeminai continues the theme of lots of size in this o-line class. He bends well and stays in a lower center of gravity throughout the play. Leuta-ulu looks natural moving backward, and laterally to make blocks. He equally does a good job run-blocking but appears more skilled in pass protection. Jeminai looks like a future right tackle for the Rebels once he gets up to speed.

OL Tiger Shanks

Tiger is an all-name team guy coming to UNLV. He is a monster in the trenches, a huge difference-maker in the run game, punishing defenders with hits. Shanks played on both sides of the ball at the high school level, which gives him an edge and the experience in the one on one battles. He is also stout in pass-protection and squares up on blocks nicely. Tiger projects as a guard at the college level and should be a solid player there.

OL Marcus Miller

Marcus is another recruit coming into the offensive line. He’s a mauler in the run game, driving defenders back with ease. Miller is frequently pulled and moved around to be the lead blocker on run players and that is where his athleticism and ability to move really shines. He is fluid when dropping back into pass protection and doesn’t appear to get rattled when trying to pick up a blitz. Marcus’ ability on the line should allow the Rebels to get creative in their play calls in the future.

DT Waisale Muavesi

Waisale is a high school defensive lineman. He is quick off the snap for someone with his size and stays low in his movements. Muavesi does a great job wrapping up on tackles, and due to his strength, no one is able to slip out once he has a hold on them. His film demonstrates that he plays with the type of motor and edge that was rarely matched on the field. Waisale will need some time to develop but will likely be able to provide a boost to the d-line down the years.

DL Alven Johnson

Alven is another significantly talented player in this Rebel class. He is a powerful defensive lineman who fights through multiple blockers, using his lower body to explode and pushes linemen back on their heels. Watching his tape, what stands out is how Johnson doesn’t give up on plays. He consistently makes a tackle coming from the other side of the field. Alven will make the UNLV defense better when he steps on the field, and it will only be a matter of time.

DL Daniel Caloca

Daniel brings a lot of size to the interior of the defensive line. He moves nimbly but explosively after the snap and tackles with incredible force. Caloca does a terrific job making tackles with only an arm as he is fighting off blockers, which is a credit to how strong he is. His determination stands out as he makes play after play. Daniel is capable of playing multiple stops on the line but has a bright future at nose tackle.

Transfer DL Adam Plant Jr

Adam is coming in as a D1 transfer, which UNLV has made good use of. Looking at his high school tape, he is long and athletic and makes great use of it on the field. Plant comes off the edge moving fluidly, and his long strides help him cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. He also has deceiving strength, winning head to head matchups against offensive linemen. Adam should be able to contribute and makeover this defense once he gets on the field.

DE Leshaun Bell

Leshaun is a dynamic pass-rusher who is joining the Rebels. He has a wide array of rushing moves that he executes with ease. Bell has the ideal strength and speed combination that is looked for in an edge rusher and has a high-motor mentality on top of it. He sheds blocks and double teams with little issue, and it the type of player offenses have to scheme against. Leshaun has the talent to see the field from day one, and how quickly he catches on to the schemes will probably be the deciding factor in how much he plays.

DE Jalen Dixon

Jalen is another talented pass-rusher that Rebels seem to have stockpiled in this class. The first thing to notice on his highlight tape is he plays with excellent game speed. Dixon is also noticeably strong, fighting off two and in some parts three blockers and shedding them to make the play. He is built like a traditional end and could play three or five-technique. Jalen is another one with the talent to see some snaps next year, but it may be smart to redshirt him to balance out the classes a bit.

LB Ose Egbase

Ose comes across as a hard-working, productive player on film. He doesn’t quit on plays and will fight through one or two blockers and still be able to get to the quarterback. Egbase is long and changes directions well at the line of scrimmage, agile enough to beat linemen. He reads their angles of blocks well and counters that well by changing his movement to gain the upper hand. Ose will benefit from a year or two of adding weight and developing, but the skill set it there.

LB Brennon Scott

Brennon is the prize jewel of this class and for a good reason. He is a natural pass-rusher who makes a living in the backfield, getting after quarterbacks quite successfully. Scott beats blockers with bruising strength and bull-rush moves on film and also possesses substantial speed. He is as high-motor type of player as can be, constantly running full speed and able to chase down a player from the other side of the field to make a tackle. Brennon should be able to be a contributor from day one and develop into one of the best pass-rushers in the conference.

JUCO LB Prince Lollar Jr

Prince is coming in after some time in junior college. His film shows him as pretty polished, and it’s clear he gained experience at that level. Lollar is comfortable in the middle of the defense, stepping up to stop the run and reading the field to make a play. He can fly through gaps and break up plays before they even get a chance to develop. Prince should step into a role on the field right away next year.

JUCO LB Kue Olotoa

Kue is another junior college linebacker in this class. He is someone who can blitz off the edge or drop back into coverage against tight ends or players in the flat. Olotoa is a tenacious player who does everything on the field a hundred percent. He should be able to plug in nicely at on outside backer position due to his speed and ability to cover the field. Kue will help next year’s defense play hard and fast.

DB Tyson Player

Tyson brings nice size and a lot of production to the defensive back position. He covers a lot of ground as a high free safety and has a knack for intercepting quarterbacks who don’t see him coming. Player isn’t just a finesse guy; he brings a physical presence with hard hits after the catch. He can step up and close well in run support, so he has the potential to be a complete safety. Tyson looks to have a bright future in college if he continues to develop.

DB Ricky Johnson

Ricky is a two-way player being brought in as a defensive back. He was a big-player burner with the ball in his hands as a receiver and will bring that athleticism and knack for explosive players over to the defense. Johnson is a ball-hawk, diagnosing routes and gaining position in coverage to make a play on the ball. He looks to be a high-energy player that can spark the entire unit. Ricky will need to develop his skills as he makes the shift to full-time defense but has a high upside.

DB Nohl Williams

Nohl is another two-way athlete slotted to play cornerback in college. He plays tight press coverage on defense while maintaining playing the ball. He tracks passes well thanks to his time as a receiver and reads the QB pre-throw. Williams is also a physical tackler and brings that mentality to the run game as well as special teams. He is a gamer on defense, doing whatever is needed to make a play. Nohl will benefit from a redshirt year but can impact a game in a variety of ways once he gets on the field.

JUCO DB Jeremiah Houston

Jeremiah comes via the junior college route, so the Rebels are vying for him to play right away. He sticks to receivers with little separation in his man coverage, and that enables him to be in the radius of the pass to make a play. Houston reads receivers routes pretty naturally, and he uses that to close in on the ball a second early than most. He also does a good job reading the quarterback’s eyes and tracking the ball well in the air. As mentioned above, Jeremiah came in at playing right away, and he looks to have the inside track on a prime role next fall.

P Charlton Butt

Couldn’t find anything highlights anywhere for Charlton. He’s an Aussie punter, so he has that style on his punts where he kicks sideways instead of straight on. It’s safe to assume he has a big leg and should not have to adjust too much to college, at least in terms of the basics of kicking the ball. He has a good shot to play right away.

Team Writer Thoughts:

Marcus Arroyo had only been on the job at UNLV for a few weeks, along with getting Oregon ready for the Rose Bowl, and he took a massive risk by not signing any of the 11 commits in the December signing period. He wanted to get time to know these players (all of whom committed to Tony Sanchez) and find his own guys to build the culture he wants to do. After one of the best classes in UNLV history, it’s fair to say Arroyo has done just that.

With this class, there are a lot of incoming freshmen, players that are expected to be here for three and four years to build a solid foundation in his program. There has been a lot of focus put towards the defensive side with all the linebackers and defensive linemen. With the new coaching staff comes new changes, one significant change is a switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4. After a disappointing showing last season from the front seven, Arroyo has found quality players who will be stars for the Rebels on defense.

On offense, the headliner is Justin Rodgers, the transfer from TCU. Currently, he is awaiting word from the NCAA on a waiver if he will be cleared to play. If he is able to play, he will be the best quarterback on UNLV’s roster, and if healthy, will deserve the starting job. Rodgers can be the dynamic playmaker the Rebels have been looking for. If healthy and at his full potential, Rodgers could be the best quarterback in the conference and bring the Rebel football program to a new level.

Nobody gives out trophies for recruiting classes, but after a late start, Arroyo and UNLV must view this talented class as a win. Now, for Arroyo and UNLV, its time to get to work and start producing results.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Scott, Bell, Rodgers, Johnson

Alex: Scott, Bell, Rodgers, Dixon

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Scott, Bell, Rodgers, Johnson, Dixon

Alex: Scott, Bell, Rodgers, Johnson, Lines

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Tyson Player

Alex: Alex Lines

Best unit:

Mike: Defensive Line

Alex: Linebackers

Summary:

Coach Arroyo has already built the hype surrounding the program, thanks to this recruiting class. The stars are some of the best talents in the entire conference, which is leaps and bounds above past Rebels classes. As for the rest of the players highlighted here, there is a lot of potential, and every recruit is coming in with at least one skill that will play at the college level. It will be interesting to see how they all develop and what this class will become. On paper, it appears that UNLV has a few building blocks for the new era with players who can start contributing immediately.

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Coming tomorrow: Wyoming