Linebacker stars in overtime drill

ELY — UNLV’s football team practiced an overtime drill Monday so the Rebels would be prepared should they take an opponent beyond the fourth quarter.

Sophomore starting middle linebacker Ronnie Paulo, a Western High School product, showed he was more than prepared. He tackled freshman tailback Imari Thompson for a 3-yard loss on one play and sacked redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Clausen for a loss of 10 on another.

"He’s completely different than he was last year," said defensive coordinator Dennis Therrell, also the linebackers coach. "He’s gotten a lot of (repetitions), and he’s bought into the fact that he’s the leader out there and he’s going to make all the calls and get everybody lined up."

Paulo played in eight games last season and is showing why he now is a starter.

"Each day I feel like I’m taking a step forward," Paulo said. "It’s definitely been a good camp, but I know the people back of me are just as good, so if I’m out, I have full trust that person will take over the responsibilities."

MAKING A COMMITMENT — After struggling academically in the spring and summer, senior Dack Ishii was stripped of his scholarship. Having to tell the folks wasn’t a treat, either.

But Ishii went into training camp determined, and his work earned back the scholarship. He shared his experiences with teammates during a talk at the post-practice meeting.

"I talked about how I tried to do anything to help this team," Ishii said. "Even when I wasn’t on scholarship, I came out here and worked hard. I didn’t know I was going to be put back on scholarship. I did everything I could whether it’s punting or holding or signaling for the offense.

"I told them I’d do anything to help them get to a bowl game. I told them my bowl game experience at Tennessee … how exciting it is come out here and work so hard in camp, and then it gets paid off at the end of the season."

Ishii was on the 2004 Tennessee team that opened its season with a 42-17 victory over UNLV and ended it with a 38-7 rout of Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

His work in camp led to winning the holding job and being in contention with junior Brendon Lamers to be the punter.

As the No. 3 quarterback, Ishii would be a dual threat at punter since opponents would have to be wary of a fake. Coach Mike Sanford said, however, the job will go to who simply is the best punter.

AGGIES QB NAMED — Senior Sean Setzer was named Utah State’s starting quarterback. The ex-junior college standout threw one pass last season, completing it for 2 yards.

INJURY UPDATE — Sophomore defensive end Isaako Aaitui (quadriceps) returned to practice, and senior tailback Frank Summers was given a day to rest. … Junior safety Marquel Martin will miss two days with a sprained right knee.

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

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