Welcome to the seventh post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today will look at the #7 team in our rankings, UNLV.
This class wasn’t off to a strong start, and then Coach Arroryo was suddenly fired, leaving things in flux right before signing day. Coach Odom came in and was able to sign a number of players in December. Then, he and his staff did some major work before February, completing this class with a few top players from high school and some very talented transfers who are being counted on to play right away, In fact, the top of their class contains three or four players who have the potential to be difference-makers going forward. To examine the ins and outs of this class, read further below.
- 25 players signed.
- 13 high school players, 5 JUCO players, 7 transfers
- 14 offensive, 10 defensive, 1 special teams
- 4 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
- Players with a composite rating over 85: 2
- Players with a composite rating over 82: 3
- Breakdown by state (excluding transfers): 6 California, 2 Colorado, 2 Texas, 1 Arizona, 1 Georgia, 1 Hawaii, 1 Missouri, 1 Nevada, 1 Oklahoma, 1 Utah, 1 Canada
- 247 Composite Rankings (subject to change)
- Overall: 135
- Recruiting: 134
- Transfer: 116
QB Bo Edmundson
Bo comes to the team as a quarterback, and he was actually the third QB commit in the Rebels 2023 cycle. That doesn’t mean he is short on talent, as he appears to be a future multi-year starter. Edmundson sees the field well and gets the ball out quick thanks to making instant reads on routes. He is comfortable commanding the offense in the shotgun and can throw on the run a bit too when needed. Bo is a great pickup for the Rebels and appears to have all the tools necessary to succeed.
QB/ATH DeAngelo Irvin Jr
DeAngelo was announced as a quarterback and athlete and the coaching staff is intrigued about ways to use him on offense. He is a prolific runner, breaking tackles and running free into the open field for explosive plays. Irvin makes quick and effective decisions in the read option game, confusing defensive and going for big runs. He makes effortless cuts and jukes to gain extra yards and, even when swarmed by the defense. DeAngelo’s athletism is top-notch and he will be able to utilized in a variety of ways on offense.
RB Jai’Den Thomas
Jai-Den is one of the running backs in this class. He has good vision at the line of scrimmage and shows a nice burst once he hits the hole. Thomas is too fast to be brought down by arm tackles from the side and makes a concentrated effort to keep his feet moving to fight for extra yards. He is also a receiving threat thanks to his speed and capable hands. Jai’Den is high on potential and could keep the rushing attack in good hands.
RB Darrien Jones
Darrien is another running back in this class. He is valuable for any offense, productive as both a runner and a receiver. Jones is dangerous in the open field, outrunning defenders and bowling over them with his power. He seems to be at his best outside the tackles and in space when he has the ball. Darrien will be a nice compliment to the Rebel offense once he continues to develop.
WR Rashawn Jackson
Rashawn is a wide receiver signee for the Rebels. He is a great player, capable of lining up all over the field. He is a true deep threat, getting behind the secondary and gaining explosive plays with ease. Jackson is a complete receiver, and can turn short catches into big gains thanks to his shiftiness. He is very skilled with the ball in his hands, racing down the sideline with his eyes on the endzone whether he is making a catch, an interception, or on a return. Rashawn should be able to see the field early in his career thanks to his special teams abilities.
WR Corey Thompson Jr.
Corey enters the fold as another receiver. He looks comfortable on the outside, blowing by cornerbacks and getting open. Thompson is great at high-pointing the ball in the air, regularly winning 50/50 balls against defenders. He has impressive straight-line speed and outruns the defense with no issue. Corey will add a downfield dynamic to the offense during his time with the Rebels.
JUCO WR Jacob De Jesus
Jacob will join the team from junior college. He is another speedster who does a great job catching the ball in stride and taking off downfield for explosive plays. De Jesus is extremely shifty and can shake off cornerbacks to get open because they simply can’t keep up with him. He looks like a natural slot receiver who will get open immediately, thanks to his releases and quick movements. Jacob should be able to contribute right away for UNLV this upcoming season.
TE Charlie Williams
Charlie is a tight end who attended IMG Academy. He is a capable blocker who gets low and explodes up when making hits. Williams also possesses good hands as a passer, and his frame makes him a big target. He seems especially adept at giving an initial hit and then slipping past the defense for an open route. Charlie looks like he can be used in a variety of ways for the Rebels.
JUCO TE Christian Earls
Christian is an imposing figure as a tight end, listed at 6’7”. In many ways, he can function as another lineman, delivering punishing hits and moving around to be a lead blocker wherever the play goes. Earls moves very well as a blocker, and it suits him well as a receiver as well. His size makes him an ideal target in the red zone but he can run routes and pick up yards after the catch as well. Christian should be able to play a role right away at UNLV.
OL Ed Haynes
Ed is a local lineman coming to play for UNLV. He has sound footwork as a blocker, especially in pass protection when moving backward or sideways. Haynes has noticeable strength and regularly gets into the second level for blocks. He plays through the whistle and has the aggression coaches like at the position. Ed got a bit of a late start to football, but he has the necessary size to be a great college tackle.
OL Matthew Greene
Matthew comes in as a rare athlete lineman, capable of playing on either side of the ball. As a defender, he can line up inside or outside, is explosive off the snap, and is a great tackler in the backfield. Greene also lines up as an offensive tackle, and his athleticism is best used getting him out in space as a blocker. He has fluid footwork and keeps defenders at bay with his strength. Matthew can truly play on either side of the ball but may be more dynamic on defense.
OL Austin Boyd
Austin was a late addition to the class but is talented nonetheless. He’s an extremely athletic player, moving around the line with agility and force. Boyd is incredibly strong, pancaking defenders with no issue on run plays. He has great size and looks like a guard who can be the primary blocker on run plays. Austin is destined to redshirt, as true freshmen on the offensive line are rare, but he has the makings of a multi-year starter.
Transfer OL Jack Hasz
Jack transfers in from Buffalo to join the offensive line. He played both ways in high school but is sticking to offense now. Hasz has short bursts of quickness as he explodes into his blocks and can even pull at times. He has proper football and a solid understatement of his assignment on each player. Jack should bring stability to the center position next season for the Rebels.
Transfer OL Jalen St John III
Jalen is another Arkansas transfer following Coach Odom to UNLV. He is a force on the line, pushing defenders around and having the mobility to move around the field making big blocks. St John III has a great understanding of what to do each play and sticks to his blocks, not letting defensive linemen go. He has nice footwork and is nimble on his feet, considering his size. Jalen is expected to compete for a starting spot next season.
DT Maxwell Peterson
Maxwell is a massive player along the defensive line. He is quick off the snap and gets in the backfield right away due to his first step and agility to shed blocks. Peterson can also bullrush blockers and overpower them to get to the quarterback. He is nearly impossible to block with just one player and can plug up the run as well. Maxwell is skilled enough to play end or tackle but it probably best suited as a tackle at the next level.
DE Lucas Conti
Lucas is a very good looking player coming in as a defensive lineman for UNLV. He is dominant at the line of scrimmage, fighting through blocks with ease and making physical tackles in the backfield. Conti causes havoc on every play, either fighting past double teams to make a play or getting so much attention that it opens up an opportunity for someone else. He diagnoses plays well and uses his length and quickness to get to the ball. Lucas is a great player entering the fold for the Rebels and should be able to play early.
LB Blesyng AluAlu-Tuiolemotu
Blessyng is a fierce defender from Hawaii in this class. He has good instincts and plays well, with especially great closing speed. AluAlu-Tuiolemotu takes well in space and moves great in the open field, covering a lot of ground. He covers well due to his speed but is at his best stopping the run by filling holes or getting to the flat right away. Blessyng lined up all over the defense in high school, but figures to be at his best playing linebacker going forward.
Transfer LB Zavier Carter
Zavier is a linebacker who is coming from LSU. He is explosive after the snap and has the speed to keep up with running backs and quarterbacks a like. Carter has the size and strength to neutralize blockers and get into the backfield. He can also help stuff the run, keeping contain and closing the gaps.Zavier will add immediate talent into the Rebel defense.
Transfer LB Jackson Woodard
Jackson is another linebacker transferring to UNLV. He was a tackle machine in high school, getting in proper position and squaring up to deliver hard hits. Woodard has great game speed and can cover sideline to sideline to make a play. He can also hold his own in coverage thanks to his height and size combo. Jackson should be able to get on the field right away next year.
DB Cameren Jenkins
Cameren is a defensive back from Texas coming to UNLV. He is a physical safety who does a great job in stepping up to shut down the run game. Jenkins excels in zone coverage, where he can sit back and watch plays develop before flocking to the ball. He is very athletic playing all over the field, including special teams. Cameren will need some time to get used to playing one side of the ball, but should be up to speed before too long.
JUCO DB Jett Elad
Jett joins the roster as a defensive back. He plays as fast as his name suggests as he flies all around the field to make plays. Elad isn’t afraid of contact and does well with tackling in the open field. He plays his best when sticking close to the receiver, matching them step for step and staying close to make a play. Jett is a good bet to play right away next year.
JUCO DB Quentin Moten
Quentin is another junior college defensive back in this class. He does a great job tracking the ball when it’s in the air and fights for inside position to get the ball. Moten plays tight, physical coverage and has a knack for getting his hands on the ball to disrupt the play. He has a quick backpedal and smooth hips, allowing him to keep up with receivers even when going backward. Quentin should be able to carve out a role in some form next season.
Transfer DB Jalen Frazier
Jalen steps in to help the Rebels as a transfer. He plays tight coverage and always seems to be in position to make a big play. Frazier has great instincts and closes in on the ball well, staying low and delivering a big hit. He is also a willing tackler in the run game, shedding blockers and stopping running backs in the flat. Jalen brings years of experience which should be valuable for UNLV next season.
Transfer DB Jaxen Turner
Jaxen was a late addition to this class, coming in from Arizona. He is very athletic, playing all over the field in high school. Turner possesses great instincts and covers round quickly, covering ground in time to make a play. He can neutralize wide receivers with his size and jumping ability on defense. Jaxen has the potential to make an impact for the Rebels next year.
Transfer K Jose Pizano
Jose comes in from Missouri State to assume kicking duties. He has a big leg that allows him to get plenty of touchbacks and he also displays nice range on field goals. Pizano is accurate, able to put the ball in whatever location he wants, which is helpful on kickoffs. He is also versatile, capable of putting nice touch on onside kickoffs. Jose has the leg and now needs to show the consistency needed for the role.
Team Writer Thoughts:
A few of the Rebels’ biggest performers last year were transfers. Look at RB Aidan Robbins or WR Ricky White, they exceeded expectations and help UNLV to a better season than in years past. Now with a new head coach from the SEC, look for the Rebels to push the envelope and possibly do better than their projected win total.
Offensively, the Rebels need to fill a hole at Running Back after Robbins transferred to BYU this off-season. I like the two talented Running Backs coming to the Rebels this year, Jai’Den Thomas and Darrien Jones. Thomas is shifty and can find holes in the defense to make big plays and Jones will be able to use his bursts of speed to take edges and explode into the secondary. That will help QB Doug Brumfield and the passing game. Speaking of Quarterbacks, the two QBs coming in are very talented as well. QB Bo Edmundson and QB/ATH DeAngelo Irvin Jr are very talented young players that could see playing time this year, especially Irvin Jr. who’s position is not only QB but Athlete too. I could see the Rebels using him in some packages with Brumfield to keep the defense on their toes.
On defense, the Rebels gave up a lot. They were okay because of the offense would be so explosive last year, but if they want to be a top team in the Mountain West, they have to be able to stop teams on defense. Some of these recruits are big and athletic and will be able to lock down on defense to give the Rebels an edge in big games. Recruits like DE Lucas Conti and DB Cameren Jenkins will add size and speed to the Rebel Defense. Remember, defense wins championships.
Mike: Conti, Edmundson, Haynes
Jos: Haynes, Thomas, Jenkins
Talented enough to play right away:
Mike: Conti, Edmundson, Haynes, Irvin Jr
Jos: Jenkins, Edmundson, Haynes, Thomas, Conti
Mike: Boyd, Thomas
Jos: Jones, Turner, Irvin Jr.
Mike: Defensive Line, Running Back
Jos: Running Back, Defensive Line, Defensive Back
UNLV had its backs up against the wall when it came to putting this 2023 class together, but they passed with flying colors, all things considered. It is easy to see the potential of the high school players they brought in, assuming they stay on track with their development. The transfers and junior college players will be relied upon early and often next season and while it remains to be seen if they are up to the task, it’s hard to argue with the plan or the results at this point. As things stand in February, the Rebels did pretty well with this recruiting class.
Previously: Boise State, San Diego State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Utah State, Nevada
Coming next: Air Force