UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck believes he can win a lot of games if he convinces the best local talent to stay in town every year.
He also realizes it’s difficult to sell players on trying to build a winner at their long-struggling hometown school when they have the opportunity to play for established, winning programs elsewhere.
Hauck’s task could be even more difficult for the 2012 recruiting class. It’s a deeper class than this year’s, which means more visits to the valley by coaches from Bowl Championship Series schools.
“Our early evaluation of the (current) junior class is the number of prospects is up substantially over last year,” Hauck said. “We want to sign as many as we can that can compete for the Mountain West championship. If that is everybody we recruit, great.”
Hauck said early evaluations by his staff are that four or five local prospects are college-ready, but he expects that total to increase after closer scrutiny and as more recruits emerge next season.
Bishop Gorman High School offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley (6 feet 7 inches, 285 pounds) might be the valley’s top prospect. He has scholarship offers from Southern California, UCLA, California, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Notre Dame, Auburn, Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri.
UNLV is missing from that list.
“I’d be fine talking to them,” Stanley said. “I’m open to talking to anybody pretty much.”
He acknowledged, though, the Rebels would be a long shot to beat out schools that have made offers.
“Yeah, I try to lean toward the BCS schools,” Stanley said.
UNLV has offered scholarships to Desert Pines offensive lineman Cedrick Poutasi (6-5, 320) and Las Vegas High quarterback Hasaan Henderson (6-4, 200).
Poutasi also has offers from Arizona, UCLA, Utah, Washington, San Diego State, Hawaii, Idaho and Southern Methodist.
Desert Pines coach Paul Bennett said Poutasi wants to carefully evaluate his options, and the lineman is particularly interested in signing with a program that can best help him reach the NFL.
“He is a homebody, that’s No. 1,” Bennett said. “His parents will help him with the decision. UNLV has as much chance as anybody. But there are some big Pac-10 schools in there, so you never know.”
The Rebels are the only school to offer a scholarship to Henderson, but Arkansas and Oregon have shown “a lot of interest,” the quarterback said.
He said the Rebels “have a chance,” but indicated he preferred a more high-profile program.
Last season, Henderson passed for 2,137 yards and 26 touchdowns, with five interceptions. He also rushed for 356 yards and seven scores.
Hauck made a splash locally with his first recruiting class, signing eight Las Vegas-area players in 2010. That number dropped to one this year, a combination of a down class and players wanting to go elsewhere.
If Hauck is to have a larger presence locally in the 2012 class, he knows he has work to do. And it’s going to take time, as shown by this year’s class when most commitments came in January.
“We’re into getting guys committed as soon as we know them and they know us,” Hauck said. “We’re into character evaluation and making sure it’s a good fit. We don’t like knowing someone over the phone and talking to them a couple of times.
“It’s a long way to signing day.”
■ NOTE — A herniated disk has ended the playing career of UNLV linebacker and Gorman graduate Beau Orth.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.