NOONE EAGER TO EXPLOIT VACANCY AT LEFT GUARD
ELY — A key departure from UNLV’s football team meant the chance for another to step forward, and Eric Noone has taken advantage of his opportunity.
With Cameron Jefferson now at Arkansas, Noone has been practicing as UNLV’s first-team left guard in a heated competition.
“Not only me, but a lot of other guys also saw it as an opportunity,” Noone said. “The job was up for grabs and still not solidified.”
Like Jefferson, who went to Desert Oasis High School, Noone is a local. But unlike Jefferson — who transferred in May — Noone walked on at UNLV and is still paying his way through college.
The Silverado High graduate, however, could be playing his way into a scholarship.
“As coaches, we love walk-ons guys,” coach Bobby Hauck said. “They’re the heart and soul of the program. They’re here because it’s really important to them. Not that it isn’t to others, but they’re committing financially as well as physically and mentally to it. There’s nothing better than seeing a walk-on guy work his way up and have a chance to get in a game, and in Eric’s case an opportunity to compete for a starting job.”
Noone (6 feet 2 inches, 300) is competing with fellow sophomore Charles Howard (6-5, 330) for the spot.
“(Noone’s) done a lot of work in the offseason the last two years,” offensive line coach Chad Germer said. “He had a nice camp last year, and he really hasn’t looked back. He’s doing a great job out here for us, and his effort level, he’s one of those guys who keeps grinding. He’s working all the time, and you can’t help but take notice.”
It would be quite a story if Noone works his way into the starting lineup when the Rebels open their season Aug. 29 at Arizona. But it’s already a pretty good story that he’s even in contention, a local walk-on making an impact at his hometown university.
“I wouldn’t come out if I didn’t believe, but my motive was just to play the game,” Noone said. “When I first came in, I didn’t set my expectations too high. My goals were small. At first, it was just make the travel team, get into the two-deep. Now, obviously, my goals have gotten a lot bigger.”
UNLV will play at Ohio State on Sept. 23, 2017, and receive a school-record $1.3 million payout. That game is part of a strategy of playing a big-name opponent every other year. The Rebels will receive $1 million for playing at Michigan next season, and a 2019 opponent could be announced in the coming weeks. UNLV also announced a home-and-home series with Arkansas State. The 2017 game will be in Las Vegas, and the 2018 meeting will be in Jonesboro, Ark. ... UNLV junior guard Ron Scoggins, a Bishop Gorman High graduate, is working his way back into the fold after leaving the team in the spring and not returning until just before camp opened. He is having to make up for not going through summer conditioning with his teammates. When asked how far behind Scoggins is, Hauck replied, “Miles. He hasn’t finished a practice yet, hardly. Conditioning-wise, he’s got a ways to go, but he knew that coming back. As I said, we’re glad he’s here. It’s going to take him some time. It’s not that type of game that just you walk out and pick it up.” ... Junior quarterback Blake Decker ran the first-team offense Thursday for the third day in a row. He is competing with junior Nick Sherry for the starting job. Freshman Kevin Thomson again received a substantial number of snaps with the reserves. ... Sophomore linebacker Trent Langham made the top play of practice, batting a pass from Decker into the air and then catching it for an interception and 20-yard touchdown return.
Interior offensive line: Heavy competition is taking place at both guard positions, but Robert Waterman is the Mountain West’s best center.
Nick Gstrein, Jr., 6-4, 295
Chris Lopez, Fr., 6-4, 285
Robert Waterman, Sr., 6-2, 290
J’Ondray Sanders, Fr., 6-5, 270
Brian Roth, Sr., 6-5, 300
Eric Noone, So., 6-2, 300
Charles Howard, So., 6-5, 330
Player, Pos., Status
David Greene, RB, Out
Phillip Haynes, OL, Out
Jack Killian, WR, Out
Ron Scoggins, G, Out
Marcus Sullivan, WR, Out
MARK ANDERSON/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL