Boyd worth the wait for UNLV

Devonte Boyd had to wait a year to have an effect at UNLV, and did he ever come through in his first college football game.

The Basic High School product not only started Friday at Arizona, but went out and caught six passes for 102 yards.

Only one other UNLV freshman broke 100 yards in his first game: Ryan Wolfe had 160 yards against Idaho State in 2006. Wolfe went on to become the Rebels’ career leader in receptions and yards receiving.

Boyd will attempt to build on his opening performance when the Rebels play Northern Colorado at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

For Boyd (6 feet 1 inch, 175 pounds), getting a chance to play was a long time coming, and he went to Tuscon, Ariz., with something to prove. He played like a big-time recruit at Basic and received interest from San Diego State and Utah State, but schools from major conferences stayed on the sidelines.

“(The performance) means a lot because a lot of people have been telling me how skinny I was and how small I was compared to the other teams,” Boyd said. “I had that as a chip on my shoulder to go out and play hard and not to prove to the people that was saying I was too small, but to prove to myself that I could play with them.”

His game at Arizona shouldn’t be a fluke. Boyd put together a terrific training camp, and those who saw him in practice weren’t surprised by his performance. Aside from senior star Devante Davis, Boyd was the top receiver in camp. He not only caught many passes but created big plays, bringing an intensity and swagger that sometimes rankled his own teammates.

Then Boyd backed it up at Arizona, seemingly letting out the frustration of not playing for a year. Boyd signed with the Rebels last year, but missed the 2013 season because he was academically ineligible.

“The year I sat out definitely made me want to play, especially them going to a bowl game and knowing I could’ve been on that team and contributing,” Boyd said. “I let them down. So that definitely boosted me and made me want to play hard. That made me want to work out hard every day.”

THREE-STEP DROP

■ This is only the second meeting between UNLV and Northern Colorado, and the Rebels hope it’s not nearly as dramatic as the first one. The Rebels rallied from a 31-14 deficit to win 35-31 in the 1979 meeting at what then was called the Silver Bowl. That is tied with two other games for the fourth-largest comeback in UNLV history.

■ Northern Colorado will start sophomore quarterback Sean Rubalcaba. He played in four games last season, completing 4 of 6 passes for 27 yards. Rubalcaba knows how to win, however, going 21-3 in his final two seasons at Grand Junction (Colo.) High. The Denver Post gave him the Golden Helmet Award, which goes to a Colorado player who excels on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

■ UNLV coach Bobby Hauck has his first Chalk Talk at noon today at the Tam Alumni Center on Maryland Parkway. The buffet lunch is the week of each home game, and it’s free to UNLV Rebel Football Foundation members and $20 for others.

FOR THE RECORD

■ Blake Decker’s 252 yards in his first UNLV start ranked fifth in season openers for Rebels quarterbacks. He also became just the second UNLV quarterback to throw for more than 250 yards in a season-opening road game. Jon Denton had 267 yards at UNR in 1997.

■ Davis moved up two UNLV career receiving charts. He now is seventh with 160 catches and ninth with 2,286 yards. Standing only 94 yards behind sixth-place Casey Flair, Davis has the chance to shoot up the yardage chart this weekend.

■ Hauck went 5-0 against Northern Colorado when he coached Montana from 2003 to 2009.

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

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