Offense catches recruits' eyes


UNLV is having one of its best offensive seasons in years, and the Rebels are doing it without any senior starters at the skill positions.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Sherry is on a record-setting pace, juniors Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle combine to average more than 150 yards rushing, and sophomore wide receivers Devante Davis and Marcus Sullivan have a total of 100 catches for 1,309 yards.

The Rebels (2-8, 2-3 Mountain West Conference), who play at Colorado State (2-7, 1-4) at 4 p.m. PST on Saturday, could have plenty to sell to high school skill players during recruiting.

Brandon Huffman, national recruiting analyst for Fox Sports/Scout.com, said UNLV is garnering interest from such players. He also noted that coaches reversed course from previous years and decided to finish the season before handing out scores of scholarship offers.

"Part of me wonders if they wanted to more or less put a pretty good product on the field first," Huffman said.

Another reason could be UNLV doesn't have as many scholarships available.

Coach Bobby Hauck said he expected to award 15 to 17 scholarships rather than the maximum 25. UNLV has some carry-over players whose scholarships count against this recruiting class, and the Rebels have only 15 seniors on the roster, so they could quickly bump up against the cap of 85 total scholarships.

They are fortunate several Pac-12 Conference schools also have fewer scholarships to give, providing UNLV a larger pool of players to pursue.

One such player is Joshua Taylor (6 feet 2 inches, 175 pounds), the nation's No. 100 receiver according to Scout.com.

Taylor, who attends Benjamin Franklin High School in Los Angeles, led a team to the championship at UCLA's seven-on-seven camp this summer and was named Most Valuable Player.

"He's not at a glamour (high) school," Huffman said. "He's under the radar. UNLV hopes he stays under the radar."

Sherry could serve as a good recruiter because of his talent and connections. When he was a senior at Casa Grande High in Petaluma, Calif., he served as a mentor to then-freshman quarterback JaJuan Lawson.

Lawson (6-1, 193) now is a junior and has offers from UNLV and Arizona.

"Usually, when it's UNLV against Arizona, Arizona wins that," Huffman said. "Because of the relationship (Sherry and Lawson) have, UNLV has a legitimate chance."

Lawson would be part of the 2014 recruiting class.

For the 2013 class, the Rebels have one commitment, from Liberty High School running back Niko Kapeli (5-11, 195).

American Canyon (Calif.) High safety/linebacker Charles Spencer (6-0, 200) has been listed as a commitment on the Scout.com and Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com websites, but the Rebels apparently don't plan to sign him.

Running back Elijhaa Penny (6-2, 245) isn't considered a UNLV commitment, but he badly wants to play for the Rebels. He signed with UNLV in 2011, but didn't qualify academically.

Penny attends Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., and whether UNLV will count him as a commitment depends on his progress in the classroom.

But Penny sometimes tweets about wanting to line up in UNLV's backfield.

"It gets me fired up seeing Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle," Penny said on the phone this week. "I see a lot of running behind that offensive line. I'm fired up to get to Vegas."

Basic High wide receiver Devonte Boyd (6-2, 170) is considering UNLV, Arizona, Utah and Duke. He said the Rebels' offensive success has impressed him.

"It does because there are a lot of freshmen and sophomores making a lot of big plays, so that's good," Boyd said.

Hauck said the response from recruits has been positive.

"We've had a lot of guys come to games, and kids are enthused," he said.

Athletic director Jim Livengood eliminated a recruiting obstacle when he said last week Hauck and his staff will return next season.

"I think that makes a tremendous difference," Huffman said.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

 

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