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Hauck works quickly to tap local talent base

The telephone in the high school football coach’s office rang a few days after the announcement of a hiring at UNLV. The visit came shortly thereafter.

Bobby Hauck and one of his assistants walked onto the grounds of one of the area’s best prep football programs and went straight to the head coach.

Tony Sanchez was impressed.

"If you’re going to turn around UNLV and make it a winner, you better be a grinder," the Bishop Gorman coach said. "From what I see, Bobby Hauck is a grinder."

It’s that time again. National signing day. When a number of stars are foolishly assigned to a player’s resume. When programs as prominent as Alabama and Texas to as standard as Hawaii and UNLV speak about unproven talent as if it were prepared to deliver championships immediately.

Hauck will announce his first recruiting class as UNLV coach at a late afternoon news conference, and no one — not even Hauck — has any clue as to how those signing with the Rebels will ultimately produce as Division I-A players.

Today is for hype.

Tomorrow is for hope.

A few years from now is for whatever reality proves itself to be.

But you can’t overstate the importance of a new head coach reaching out to his local base. Hauck is expected to sign a class of approximately 20 players, and of those, eight are expected to be from area high schools.

The most locals any previous Rebels football coach signed is five.

Already, Hauck is set to break a UNLV record.

Las Vegas continues to grow and spread its wings deeper and deeper into the valley landscape. The market continues to emerge. Families are raised, schools are built, teams are formed, talent is developed.

It’s never smart to sign any player solely because of his proximity to your campus — you don’t choose a heart surgeon because he might root for the same NFL team as you — but there is some wiggle room in that attitude when it comes to a new coach inheriting a losing program.

The locals Hauck welcomes today might not prove to be the players who ultimately lead UNLV out of its desperate state, but they could define the foundation that leads to better ones staying home in years to come.

This just in: Gorman and schools of its stature will always have good players.

It’s also true that local talent in Nevada has a tendency to be vastly underrated nationally. I’m not sure anyone other than UNLV recruited Adam Seward out of Bonanza High.

He has played parts of five NFL seasons.

"The best thing I ever heard from a recruiter was that the process is like finding a pair of shoes that fit best," Sanchez said. "Everyone is going to want something different. Some kids have the urge to get away. Some want to stay close to family.

"I always ask kids where they see themselves 10 years from now, what job they want to have. Some will still only care about the gear a certain program wears and how big the stadium is.

"But if (Hauck) builds a quality program at UNLV, one of integrity and discipline and success, it would make the choice to stay home a lot easier for many."

Taylor Spencer is staying home. He is one of two Gorman players set to sign with UNLV today.

Spencer, a 6-foot-1-inch wide receiver, was offered a scholarship by Utah early in the recruiting process, didn’t feel comfortable committing at the time and saw the Utes move on to others at his position.

A few years ago, Spencer just wanted a scholarship. Today, he wants to be known as one who makes a difference in building the Rebels to a state of distinction.

Or at least a team that can beat UNR every third year and challenge for the New Mexico Bowl.

"I’m going to go in there with the idea of helping turn the program around," Spencer said. "It’s a good feeling. I want to help make them a winner, to go to bowl games every year, to make other kids want to stay home and be part of it."

Bobby Hauck did well since replacing Mike Sanford as coach to make the calls and visit the grounds of local high schools.

He did well to begin mixing a little water into the home cement.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He also can be heard weeknights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on "The Sports Scribes" on KDWN-AM (720) and www.kdwn.com.

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