UNLV incoming freshman Jacoby Windmon turned 18 on Tuesday.
His idea of celebrating?
Practicing and getting ready for UNLV’s season opener.
That Aug. 31 game against Southern Utah at Sam Boyd Stadium has plenty of appeal for Windmon Because of an eligibility issue that will sideline senior starting defensive end Gabe McCoy, Windmon will be in the first-team unit.
“That’s real big,” Windmon said following Thursday’s walk-through practice at Rebel Park. “Not too many people can come in and be ready like I am, so I feel like that’s a big jump from where I’m at. I came in, I handled my business and I got the results.”
Windmon was one of the young standouts in training camp.
“From spring ball through camp, he seemed to get better and better and better,” coach Tony Sanchez said. “He’s as evolved of a freshman as we’ve had here.”
McCoy returns to his starting role Sept. 7 at home against Arkansas State. The NCAA ruled McCoy had to miss the first game because he played in a handful of plays as a freshman in 2015. He redshirted that season.
McCoy has encouraged Windmon and after Thursday’s practice yelled to a reporter, “He’s a baller!”
“I feel good, but I feel like I can do a lot better because there’s always room to improve,” Windmon said. “(McCoy is) on me every day no matter where we’re at — film room, field, our off days. He always finds a way to get in contact with me and help me out.”
Kansas athletic director Jeff Long pushed the idea to other Big 12 Conference athletic directors this past spring of allowing programs to sign up to 35 scholarship players in one class with a maximum of 50 over two years. Schools now are allowed to sign up to 25 scholarship players each year with a total maximum of 85.
Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, according to The Athletic, wants to move the idea forward with the NCAA. Steinbrecher is the vice chairman of the NCAA’s Division I Council.
Sanchez said the topic was discussed in January at the American Football Coaches Association’s convention.
“The room was really torn,” he said. “I get it. When you come to a place like UNLV, I would’ve loved that opportunity to get the numbers right right away. However, the reason we went to (a hard cap of 25 scholarships per year) is people were abusing the system. If you were signing 30 guys and only bringing 25 in, then there are five kids that didn’t get to be recruited by other schools, and they’re left hanging. I understand why a majority of the room was against it.
“I think there’s a lot of debate still to be had about it, but I think there’s got to be really defined how many you can sign and can you oversign? Thirty-five in a year, man, that’s a lot. That will be interesting to see.”
Sanchez said UNLV’s scholarship total is in the low 80s. The Rebels were in the mid-to-low 70s two years ago, he said.