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Pandemic and postponement not slowing down UNLV Football recruiting

Six new three-star recruits put UNLV to the top of Mountain West recruiting.

UNLV Introduces Marcus Arroyo Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Marcus Arroyo has yet to coach a game at UNLV, but he is making an impact off the field with the recruits he is bringing to UNLV. It began with salvaging the 2020 recruiting class that was ranked second in the conference by 24/7 Sports. Now, he is bringing in recruits left and right, and has catapulted the Rebels to the top with the highest rated recruiting class in the Mountain West.

And while so much in the world is being postponed or canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the fall 2020 sports season for the Mountain West, it has not seemed to halt UNLV’s recruitment of the 2021 class.

“Right now,” Arroyo said in a press conference on Tuesday, “recruiting season is open, we’re hunting. We’re on the move, there hasn’t been anything that has slowed us down in regards of building relationship or roster management.”

This past week, UNLV added six more three-star recruits to its 2021 class. It brings the total to 16 recruits in the class, 15 of which are three-stars. The average rating of the class from 24/7 Sports is 0.8330, which is tops in the conference and 56th nationally.

Here is a recap of UNLV’s impressive week of recruiting from the first week of the month:

It began on the first Monday of the month, when three-star Jakelyn Morgan, from Tyler, Texas committed to UNLV.

He is a 6-foot-1 cornerback who had offers from Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah State, notably. Morgan can certainly help the issues in the secondary for the Rebels by adding to their depth there.

The day was not done for the Rebels, linebacker Marsel McDuffie of Grand Prairie, Texas became the second recruit to commit to UNLV that day.

McDuffie had offers from Baylor and Georgia Tech, among his list. He adds to UNLV’s depth on defense and could be a reliable every down player for UNLV on defense.

The next day, Arroyo signed his first local recruit while at UNLV. Wide receiver Aaron Holloway, from Legacy High School in North Las Vegas made the choice to stay home and play for the hometown team.

Ranked in the top-15 in the state at his position, Holloway choose UNLV over other Mountain West teams Air Force, Colorado State, and New Mexico. Holloway is a speedy playmaker and he will help out UNLV’s offense with his speed.

A few days later, UNLV added its first safety to the class, with Jaylen Lane from Pearland, Texas.

The three-star is the second highest rated recruit of the class with a rating of 0.855. UNLV beat out four other schools from the conference to add another player to help out the depth of their secondary.

Much of Rebel Nation were waiting for Saturday to come around, because that would be when Nick Dimitris would commit. The three-star defensive end from Baldwin Park, California narrowed his list down to UNLV, Fresno State, and Mississippi State.

UNLV also beat out other schools such as Auburn, Florida, LSU, Penn State, and Tennessee, and other Power 5 teams to get Dimitris. Listed at 6-foot-4, Dimitris has the size th be a wrecking force on UNLV’s defensive line.

One of the surprises of the 2021 recruiting class so far came when Brye Lighon committed to UNLV on Sunday.

Lighon had a lot of other offers from Power 5 schools, such as Kansas, Oregon State, and Utah. Listed at 6-foot-3 and as an “Athlete,” where he has played as a tight end, defensive end, and linebacker, he could be a unity player the Robles could move around in different spots, which gives them a lot options.

Analysis

Five of the six new recruits play defense and in total, 10 of the 16 members of the 2021 class are on the defensive side of the ball. That is a sign that Arroyo and his staff are aware of the struggles UNLV has had on defense, and he is willing to put time in finding players who could elevate the Rebel defense.

One of the biggest weaknesses for UNLV is the secondary. With five defensive backs already in this class, Arroyo is giving himself and his staff a wide variety of options to play in the secondary. Part of their struggles is the lack of depth. For example, Drew Tejchman was a wide receiver who has now been converted to a defensive back. Now, if some is injured or not playing well, there are a lot of options.

Another observation is where these recruits are from. The new staff has planted its flag in Texas and California. Eight recruits are form California and five are from Texas. To be, and to beat, the best, you have to recruit with the best, and that means going to two of the hotbeds of high school football and make yourself know in the area. Arroyo and the new staff have a “don’t take no for an answer,” mentality.

It has been so surprising that Arroyo has pulled off such a great recruiting class even though he has never been a head coach before in college or ever coached a game at UNLV. Many of the new recruits have cited the coaches, and their experiences at higher levels, as reasons why the school has stood out among the rest. Arroyo has experience inn the Big 12, PAC-12, and NFL; and so much of his staff has experience working in big college programs at Power 5 places and in the NFL, with that experience, it is a sign to recruits that these coaches can develop talent and put players in a great place to succeed.