Rebels’ Clausen switches from quarterback to safety

UNLV’s starting quarterback only two games ago, junior Mike Clausen is now trying to earn playing time at safety.

Clausen asked coach Bobby Hauck on Monday to make the switch after senior Omar Clayton reclaimed the quarterback job last week and played well enough to keep it.

Clausen and Hauck had discussed a position change in the spring if Clausen was beaten out by Clayton.

“Being on the sideline is not really helpful for the team if I’m a good enough athlete to play another position and help the team in another way,” the 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound Clausen said.

The move isn’t necessarily permanent, Hauck said. But Clausen, who intercepted a pass late in practice, showed enough promise Tuesday to warrant another look today.

“It looked like he had some hope of being a contributor there,” Hauck said.

It’s doubtful Clausen will play in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game at Idaho (1-1) because he needs more time to grasp the position, Hauck said.

Clausen was the starting quarterback in the season opener against Wisconsin but never left the bench Saturday at Utah. Clayton played the entire game, completing 18 of 37 passes for 217 yards in a 38-10 loss as the Rebels fell to 0-2.

If Clausen remains at safety, redshirt freshman Caleb Herring will move up to No. 2 on the depth chart, probably strengthening Clayton’s hold on the starting job.

But Clayton said he wouldn’t relax.

“I could still not perform well on the field,” Clayton said. “My focus is still the same. It doesn’t change just because Mike is wearing a red (defensive) jersey now in practice. I still have to do the same thing every day in practice.”

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

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