New UNLV football coach Marcus Arroyo will be formally introduced at 11 a.m. Friday in the house, the Fertitta Football Complex, that former UNLV coach Tony Sanchez built.
It’s an important opportunity to make a first impression for Arroyo as he lays out his vision for the program, but he has even more critical tasks facing him inthe coming weeks.
— UNLV Athletics (@UNLVathletics) December 12, 2019
Recruiting current players
Before turning his attention to recruits, Arroyo needs to sell himself to UNLV’s returning players. If he can keep the vast majority together, that will ease pressure on having to quickly fill some holes.
Arroyo should be pleased with what he’s inheriting offensively. Expected back are redshirt freshman quarterback Kenyon Oblad (2,081 yards and 18 touchdowns passing), junior running back Charles Williams (1,257 yards and 11 TDs rushing), nearly every receiver and most of the line.
The picture is quite different on defense. Gone are such players as linebacker Javin White, linebacker/end Gabe McCoy, linebacker Rayshad Jackson and defensive backs Jericho Flowers and Evan Austrie. So the Rebels will be inexperienced on a side of the ball that allowed 33 points even with some quality players.
Keep the current recruiting class
Signs are positive for Arroyo that he will be be able to keep the recruiting class intact, which is crucial given the Rebels are ranked by 247Sports as the Mountain West’ third-best class. Three-star quarterback Doug Brumfield has been firm that he and his two high school teammates will follow through on their pledges to the Rebels.
Given that the early signing period begins Wednesday, Arroyo doesn’t have time to waste in not only holding steady with those recruits, but possibly seeing who he can add. Otherwise, most of his work will be in the lead-up to the February signing period.
Hire a strong staff
Any head coach would fail without an able staff, and Arroyo is no exception. More money is expected to be allocated for assistants than in years past, and it’s up to Arroyo to take advantage.
His top priority is a defensive coordinator who can finally lead that side of the ball after more than a decade in the football wilderness.
Some possibilities include Oregon co-defensive coordinator Keith Heyward, Minnesota cornerbacks coach Rod Chance, Fresno State defensive passing game coordinator J.D. Williams and Fresno State defensive running game coordinator Kenwick Thompson.
Heyward would bring an immediate buzz, but UNLV could be hard-pressed to come close to his reported $600,000 salary. Chance was a defensive analyst at Oregon in 2018 and Southern Utah’s defensive coordinator the two previous seasons. Williams has twice coached at UNLV, including as defensive coordinator in 2012. Thompson has been a coordinator at East Carolina and San Jose State.
Coach in the Rose Bowl
Arroyo hasn’t announced whether he will be with the Ducks when they play Wisconsin on New Year’s Day, but there is no reason he shouldn’t be there.
It’s a dead period for recruiting, so he can’t contact players anyway. And his hiring will be discussed on national TV, giving UNLV some free exposure.
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UNLV’s returning starters
QB Kenyon Oblad
RB Charles Williams
WR Randal Grimes
WR Mekhi Stevenson
WR Steve Jenkins
TE Giovanni Fauolo Sr.
LT Matt Brayton
LG Julio Garcia II
RT Justice Oluwaseun
DE Nate Neal
NT Kolo Uasike
MLB Farrell Hester II
FS Drew Tejchman
CB Aaron Lewis
K Daniel Gutierrez