Bobby Hauck has said he would like to redshirt every freshmen he signs, but he never has lived in an ideal world.
Hauck is very much a realist, and if a player is good enough to play, he’s seeing the field that season and not taking a redshirt simply because of a football coach’s principle.
Today, Hauck announces his fifth UNLV recruiting class, and the vast majority of those players will redshirt. But some will play in the 2014 season, and the fact Hauck is willing to put them on the field doesn’t hurt his recruiting efforts.
“That question comes up with almost every one of them, whether to redshirt them or not, how do we plan for them to contribute,” Hauck said. “What I tell them to a man, ‘We don’t want you to ever be thinking redshirt. We want you to think come in and compete for playing time.’ ”
Four scholarship freshmen played immediately each of the past two seasons, and some had significant roles as the Rebels put together their best season in 13 years in going 7-6 in 2013 and making the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Ron Scoggins was a two-year starter at guard, defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga made 5½ tackles for loss last season, Anthony Williams caught a combined 43 passes over his first two seasons, David Greene was the Rebels’ co-special teams player of the year in 2013, and Keith Whitely helped handle kick-return duties last season.
In 2011, only wide receiver Devante Davis played right away, catching four passes for 42 yards. Last year, however, he put together one of the more remarkable seasons in UNLV history, with a school-record 14 touchdown receptions.
Hauck’s approach to all three recruiting classes most closely mirrored his philosophy of redshirting most freshmen. He didn’t have that luxury with his first class in 2010.
Seven scholarship freshmen played immediately for a program that needed the help. Including the redshirts, grayshirts and walk-ons, 23 freshmen played that season.
Some — such as running back Tim Cornett, defensive tackle Tyler Gaston and kicker Nolan Kohorst — went on to make strong impacts.
Had Hauck been in a position to keep them on the sideline, the Rebels would be returning even more key players next season.
“A guy like Tyler Gaston, who played very well this year, probably didn’t play anywhere near that level when he was a freshman,” Hauck said. “Had he redshirted as a freshman, this would’ve been his junior year and we get another good year out of him.”
When it comes to recruiting, however, most players believe they are good enough to play immediately.
And those are the kinds of players Hauck and his coaching staff mostly want to recruit. But the coaches also look for players with potential, those whose talents aren’t obvious now, but could develop into top performers in coming seasons.
“Some of them are a little more worldly than others and acknowledge the fact that, ‘Hey, I’m a 6-foot-2, 230-pound offensive lineman, I’m probably going to need a redshirt year,’ ” Hauck said. “Some guys know that the die is cast already, but for the most part, the rest of them, get ready to come compete and see what happens. That’s how we want them to approach the season. We don’t want them to mail it in the next seven months.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.