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2021 Recruiting Breakdown: UNLV

A class with solid talent

NCAA Football: Wyoming at UNLV Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the fourth post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #4 team in our rankings, UNLV.

The 2020 UNLV recruiting class demonstrated that Coach Arroyo and his staff could recruit at the top level of the conference. In case anyone thought that to be a fluke, they followed it up with an even better class this year. The 2021 Rebel recruiting class possesses a top-half that competes with the three teams above them and a bottom half that is better than most of the teams below them. To examine the ins and outs of this class, read further below.

The Skinny:

  • 22 players signed.
  • 18 high school players, 1 JUCO player, 3 transfers
  • 11 offensive, 10 defensive, 1 athlete
  • 18 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • Players with a composite rating over 85: 3
  • Players with a composite rating between 82-84: 11
  • 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
  • 68th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

QB Cameron Friel

Cameron is a talented signal-caller the Rebels secured in this class. He is a classic pocket-passer with great size and a strong arm. Friel goes through his progressions methodically, but quickly, and makes accurate throws all over the field. He can make a variety of passes and knows when to adjust the speed or air under his throw to complete it. UNLV is in desperate need of a competent QB and Cameron fits the bill coming out of high school.

RB Samuel Green

Samuel is a small but speedy back coming heading to UNLV. He reaches top speed right out of the game and changes direction easily with his smooth strides. Green has great hands, which allows him to add another dimension in the offense through screens and passes out of the backfield. He has some strength as well, making him difficult to bring down. Samuel is talented enough to carve out a role in the offense next year in some form.

JUCO RB Keaton Haddad

Keaton comes to the Rebels by way of the junior college circuit. His high school film displays him as a back who can hit the hole quickly and shift into break away speed at the second level. Haddad appears most comfortable outside the tackles as a one-cut and go type of runner. However, he can run between the tackles and carry defenders for extra yards as well. Keaton adds some depth to the RB room.

Transfer RB Jayvaun Wilson

Jayvaun is another back transfer, this one coming as a transfer from Oregon. He explodes through the hole in the line and in his high school film, simply outran others on the field. Wilson is excellent in space, changes direction effortlessly, and takes good angles to get a step on defenders. He can also be a factor in the passing game, regularly catching out of the backfield. Jayvaun should be able to become a factor in the offense right away.

WR Deamikkio Nathan

Deamikkio is one of the more talented wide receivers in the conference this year. He is a big-play threat, with his combination of size, speed, and athleticism. Nathan is the focal point of the offense on film, use on deep routes, jet sweeps, screens, quick slants, and more. He has incredible hands and piles up yards after the catch, especially when he makes a reception in strides. Deamikkio is a great bet to play and produce in his first season.

TE Shaun Grayson

Shaun is a two-way player coming in to play tight end for the Rebels. He has a knack for finding the hole in the zone to get open over the middle of the field. Grayson runs clean, efficient routes and is skilled at slipping out of blocks to get open for a big play. He isn’t afraid to do the dirty work and help in the run-game as a blocker. Shaun’s all-around game as a tight end should help him be productive in his time at UNLV.

OL Anthony Rosas

Anthony is a talented well-rounded offensive lineman. He stands out in his run-blocking ability; knocking defenders to the ground on a regular basis through the use of his power. Rosas is athletic with good footwork and he is regularly used to pull or get downfield in screens or other plays. He stays low and squares up on defenders when he is in pass-protections. Anthony is adept at moving people out of the way in whatever facet he is asked and has the potential to be a great college tackle.

OL Graham Keating

Graham is a skilled offensive lineman entering the fold. He has a great, projectable frame and a textbook stance after the snap. Keating gets physical with his hands at the point of contact and executes his assignment with aggressiveness and determination. He is mobile and active as a run-blocker and moves well laterally while in pass-protection. Graham should develop into a tackle who anchors the o-line in college.

OL Anton Ambuehl

Anton is a good looking lineman coming from a top program in the west. He is a good sized tackle who specializes in pancaking defenders. Ambuehl handles blitzes and stunts well in thanks to his vision and adaptability at the line of scrimmage. His strength is noticeable when he’s run-blocking. Anton will need to add a bit of weight before he can compete at the college level, but he has the skills to be successful.

DE Nick Dimitris

Nick is one of the most talented recruits in the entire conference this year. He is disruptive at the line of scrimmage, pressing the quarterback and altering or tipping passes. Dimitris displays an array of pass moves and really has no trouble getting past blockers or pushing them back into the runner or QB to alter the play. He is disciplined and active in run-defense and plays through the whistle. Nick continues the recent run of talented pass-rushers UNLV has been able to recruit and is skilled enough to see the field right away.

DL Kevon Ivy

Kevon is a talented defensive lineman entering the fold for the Rebels. He is active at the line of scrimmage, getting his hands on running backs as they attempt to go past. Ivy also has a nose for the ball, knocking down passes and diving on fumbles. He is a capable pass-rusher and seals up holes in the run game. Kevon looks versatile enough to succeed on the end or put on some weight to play defensive tackle.

LB Marsel McDuffie

Marsel played offense and defense in high school but will be a linebacker for UNLV. He is an active yet patient player who is constantly moving but waits to commit to a play until he has diagnosed what is unfolding. McDuffie is able to stick with ball-carriers, matching them with his speed and then delivering a sound tackle in space. He is at his best stopping the run but can hold his own in coverage thanks to his quickness. Marsel should develop into a solid middle linebacker.

Transfer LB Kylan Wilborn

Kylan is a transfer on the defensive side of the ball, coming in to play linebacker. His high school film depicts him as a high-motor linebacker who does a bit of everything. Wilborn specializes in getting to the quarterback, using his speed and power combination. He was also athletic enough to play some running back. Kylan, like other transfer, brings depth and talent to a team that needs it.

DB Cameron Oliver

Cameron hails from the state of Texas. He is a heads up player in coverage who does a great job jumping routes and getting his hands on the ball. Oliver has the speed and cutting-ability to match receivers and he can use his ability to see the field when he is playing off the receiver or in zone. When he creates a turnover, he is a threat to score nearly every time. Cameron’s athleticism and big-play ability will help him to see the field sooner rather than later.

DB Kam Blanton

Kam is a defensive back from powerhouse St. John Bosco. He displays incredible game-speed, which assists him in playing tight coverage against receivers. Blanton really excels in his closing or recovery speed, which allows him to stray a bit off his man to help in the run or broken coverage elsewhere and still track down receivers to make a play on the ball. He possesses sound footwork and maintains his balance making turns and cuts. Kam is a talented cornerback who is good enough to play right away.

DB Jaylen Lane

Jaylen is another talented defensive back in this class. He is very rangy in the secondary, covering a lot of ground to make a play on the ball. Lane is a ball-hawk, tracking the ball in the air and makes a concentrated effort to get his hands involved in the play. He is also a force when he steps in for run support, laying physical hits. Jaylen looks like a good bet to make an early impact.

DB Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen

Kilinahe comes to UNLV as a defensive back with size. He is a versatile defender who makes an impact in coverage, or at the line of scrimmage. Mendiola-Jensen plays fast and that is evident on his last-min blitzes where he can breeze past blockers at full speed thanks to his timing of the snap count. He has a smooth backpedal and fluid hips when turning, which aids his ability to cover and react to routes. Kilinahe has a strong skill-set which will serve him well when he sees the field in a year or two.

DB Johnathan Baldwin

Johnathan is the latest defensive back in this class. He looks solid as a safety with a smooth backpedal and the ability to scan the field and read the quarterback. Baldwin is a rangy ballhawk who covers a lot of ground in the back of the defense and flies to the ball. He does well in coverage but is at his best as an over the top safety who can double a play on the ball. Johnathan should be quite the player for the Rebels if he stays on his development track.

JUCO DB Mychal Victor

Mychal is another older player coming in to fill some gaps. He plays aggressive coverage on the sideline and isn’t afraid to help out in stopping the run. Victor is a good tackler in space, closing in quickly on ball-cariers and stopping them before they can turn the corner. He is also a force in the special teams, where his skills shine. Mychal should add immediate depth to the UNLV secondary.

ATH Brye Lighon

Brye is coming to UNLV as an athlete who can make an impact on the field in multiple positions. As a defensive end, he wreaks havoc with his tenacious approach in getting to the quarterback with a variety of pass-rush moves. Lighon’s strength and speed is also on display in his route-runner at a tight end. He piles up huge yards after the catch and bounces off defenders attempting to tackle him. Bryce can play on either side of the ball, but seems like he has a great chance to get on the field quicker and stand out as a tight end.

Team Writer Thoughts:

Despite going winless in 2020, Marcus Arroyo and his staff managed to put together another outstanding class full players who have the potential to be at UNLV for three to four years, and make an impact as the program is looking to trend upward. I know UNLV fans are tired of it, but things were not going to change in one year and sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to get to where you want to be. Not only did UNLV go 0-6 last year, but the highly touted freshmen from the 2020 class did not see a lot of playing time, the was likely due to the lack of spring and summer ball to get acclimated to playing at the college level. Hopefully, things will be better by the spring so the team can get this class the proper time to get ready to play this season.

Arroyo has gone heavy on the defense, especially with defensive backs and defensive linemen. The issues in the secondary has been ongoing for a while, and by signing a lot of players from those positions, Arroyo and staff will have options to see who can play the position and make an immediate impact for the Rebels. Also, by having many players to pick from, it will also build depth at a position that has lacked in the past. On the defensive line, this class has players would could turn out to be multiple year starters for the program. Arroyo has mentioned last season that they want to create havoc plays, and players like Dimitris and Lighon are big and athletic enough to wins battle in the trenches and get to the quarterback to cause havoc plays. Both the class of 2020 and 2021 have players and defense that can be All-MW caliber players and if they can play up to those standards, the Rebel defense will drastically improve and UNLV will see its program changing for the better.

Being the offensive guru Arroyo is, I can’t finish without noting some players on that side of the ball in the 2021 class that might be making their own impact on the program in the future. The biggest question surrounding UNLV as a whole is who the starting quarterback will be. Last year we saw true freshman Doug Brumfield get a lot of playing time and show flashes of his potential, but none of the quarterbacks went out and took the job, and freshman Cameron Friel might have something to say about the quarterback job when camp begins. At the skills positions, UNLV is bit thin at wide receiver after multiple players entered the transfer portal and that could be good news for Deamikkio Nathan to see some playing time after freshmen Kyle Williams and Zyell Griffin saw a lot of action last year for UNLV. At running back Charles Williams will get a lot of reps, but a guy to keep an eye on is Samuel Green, who Arroyo had some good things to say about, as someone who could slide in as the starter at running back once Williams graduates.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Dimitris, Nathan, Blanton, Rosas

Alex: Dimitris, Rosas, Lighon

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Dimitris, Nathan, Blanton, Rosas, Green, Ivy

Alex: Dimitris, Nathan, Lighon, Ivy, Grayson

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Ambuehl, Mendiola-Jensen

Alex: Friel, McDuffie

Best unit:

Mike: Secondary, Defensive Line

Alex: Secondary, Defensive Line

Summary:

The Rebels are a program that recruits extremely well under Coach Arroyo. Back to back strong classes will hopefully speed up their rebuild. These players’ potential is bursting from the rankings, and it may be smart to get many of these players on the field as early as possible. They are even becoming known for being able to recruit talented pass-rushers over the past two seasons. UNLV is winning the battles on the recruiting trail, and in theory, that should help them win the battles on the field.

Previously: San Diego State, Boise State, Fresno State

Coming Monday: Nevada