Texas trip meaningful for Rebels’ linebacker Saldi

FORT WORTH, Texas — With 12 Texans on UNLV’s football team, the trip here was especially meaningful for many of the Rebels.

It was made even more so by the appearance of Bryce Saldi on the field before Saturday’s 56-9 loss to No. 18 Texas Christian. Accompanied by his father, Jay, Saldi walked out to midfield with three UNLV players for the coin toss.

TCU fans gave the Texan a nice ovation when he was introduced, and tight end Austin Harrington put his left hand on the back of Saldi, who suffered a serious head injury in a skateboarding accident in July 2009.

"We wanted to make sure he felt included at all times," Harrington said. "He’s still part of this team, and we love him still.

"He never ceases to amaze me with how much he progresses each time. He hasn’t slowed down one bit."

Saldi also was at the team hotel with his mother, Bre, on Friday night.

"I think he was excited to see a lot of people he hasn’t been able to see in a long time, especially our guys who have been in California," Harrington said.

■ GOING STRONG — Sophomore Tim Cornett has shown breakaway speed but wants to be a more physical runner.

Cornett, who led the Rebels this season with 671 yards rushing, said he wants to gain about 15 pounds.

"I’m going to take (today) off … and then Monday get right to it," said Cornett, who is 6 feet, 200 pounds. "Coach (Mike) Gerber will probably have to kick me out of the weightroom this year.

"I’m trying to get everybody on the same page. I’ve got to step up and be a leader. We’re going to get this thing going."

He doesn’t want another two-victory season.

"That’s not happening anymore," Cornett said, adding the other returning players are hungry for change, too.

The motivation of many outgoing seniors, though, often has seemed lacking. "In a way sometimes," Cornett acknowledged, "but in a way with their athletic ability, I wish that we had most of them back."

■ BANGED-UP QBS — Redshirt freshman Taylor Barnhill received his second start at quarterback.

Usual starter Caleb Herring (shoulder) and backup Sean Reilly (wrist) were sidelined because of injuries.

"We tried to warm up Caleb early and couldn’t do it," coach Bobby Hauck said. "We had hoped on Thursday. He threw a little bit (in practice)."

Barnhill was 4 of 12 for 48 yards against TCU.

■ ODDS AND ENDS — The football team had to land at Dallas’ Love Field on Friday because Fort Worth’s Meacham International Airport was fogged out, turning about a 15-minute bus ride into an hour. UNLV’s basketball team had an extended layover in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport because of a problem with brakes, before arriving in Wichita, Kan., on Friday night. … Dionza Bradford finished with 615 yards rushing, falling short of UNLV’s freshman rushing record of 624 set by James Wofford in 1997. Bradford was in great position to break the record but gained just 26 yards in the past two games, including 11 on Saturday.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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