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Late-closing Rebels gain experts’ praise

The rankings by the recruiting sites don’t reflect how impressed they are with Bobby Hauck’s effort in putting together his first class as UNLV’s football coach.

But look behind the numbers of today’s national signing day, and the experts’ belief is that Hauck did more than a credible job given his late-December hire.

"Oh, absolutely considering his late start and the little time he had," said Brandon Huffman, the West recruiting analyst for Scout.com. "A lot of times, coaches get hired in the first week of December. He lost some crucial time."

"Obviously, that’s an impossible situation," Rivals.com national analyst Jeremy Crabtree said.

Hauck will announce his class at 4 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center’s Board Room. Fans can watch on UNLV’s Web site or attend a presentation at 5.

Rivals gives three stars to six UNLV recruits and ranks the Rebels eighth in the nine-team Mountain West Conference. Scout assigns three prospects three stars, placing UNLV at No. 5 in the MWC in average rating score but at No. 9 in total points.

UNLV gained two commitments Tuesday, including offensive lineman Tyler Gaston (6 feet 3 inches, 250 pounds), a Rivals two-star prospect from Rancho High.

"There was a lot put into the decision between there and Washington," Gaston said. "My family was a big part of it. I did what was best for me."

The other commitment came from Scout two-star offensive lineman Alex Novosel (6-7, 265). Novosel, from Chatfield High in Littleton, Colo., visited Colorado last weekend and had scholarship offers from some Football Championship Subdivision schools, and said the offer from UNLV "definitely surprised me."

Another pick-up could occur today. Tight end Evan Hudson (6-6, 235), a Rivals three-star recruit from Bothell (Wash.) High, also is considering Air Force, and visited the Falcons last weekend.

Projecting how any of these players — or those elsewhere — will perform is not exactly science. UNLV fans know from experience, watching a grayshirt such as Ryan Wolfe become a star but fellow receiver and four-star prospect Aaron Straiten fail to live up to his potential.

Both recruiting services have tried to remove as much of the guesswork as possible with their formulas.

Rivals gives five stars to players who appear to be future NFL first-round draft picks, four stars to potential All-Americans and other top-300 players, three stars to expected multiyear starters and two stars to the rest. The service does not give out one-star ratings.

Crabtree said Rivals bases its ratings on in-person evaluations and game videotapes, and that was the case with three-star quarterback Taylor Barnhill (6-3, 210), a UNLV commitment from Northwest High in Justin, Texas.

Barnhill did well at camps, and Crabtree said his game work was impressive, even though the quarterback played on an 0-10 team and passed for only 1,027 yards.

"He made natural progress from his junior season to his senior season," Crabtree said. "He has good size. He moves around in the pocket well. He’s a good athlete."

Scout gives Barnhill two stars, not a tremendous difference. There usually isn’t much of one between the services.

"We see a lot of the same guys and go to the same camps," Huffman said. "It’s very rare one will give five stars and the other three."

Scout hands out five stars to the top 50 prospects, four to the top 300, three to the 750 and two to the rest of the players it evaluates. A one-star athlete means Scout hasn’t rendered an opinion.

"The rankings are based on what they would do in college programs," Huffman said. "A 4,000-yard passer in high school who’s 5-11, 5-10 isn’t going to be ranked high. A 6-3, 6-4 quarterback who runs the veer like (Washington’s) Jake Locker (did in high school) will be ranked high."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

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