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UNLV football assistant Barney Cotton steps down due to heart issue

Updated July 18, 2019 - 5:40 pm

UNLV offensive coordinator Barney Cotton has stepped down after finding out that he needs a heart transplant.

He will be replaced by offensive line coach Garin Justice, who joined the staff before last season.

“Barney has been an instrumental cog in helping to make UNLV football a competitive program, and I really believe in my heart of hearts we’re getting ready to take off this year,” Rebels coach Tony Sanchez said Thursday. “A lot of that has to do with Barney and all the work that he has done.

“He’s a good man, loves the game, and he’s a good friend. We’re all real saddened by this heart condition he’s dealing with. Barney is going to be on a list to receive a heart transplant. He has a serious heart condition that the doctors won’t allow him to coach anymore. I know it’s tearing him up. We’re praying for him.”

Cotton, 62, was one of Sanchez’s first hires after taking over the program following the 2014 season. He had been at Nebraska since 2008, serving as associate head coach and run game coordinator.

An attempt to reach Cotton for comment was unsuccessful.

UNLV averaged 21.9 points the year before Cotton became coordinator, and the Rebels improved by about a touchdown per game the following season. They averaged at least 28.6 points in each of his four seasons.

Justice was Florida Atlantic’s offensive line coach for two seasons before joining the Rebels. He also was the head coach at Division II Concord (Athens, W.Va.) from 2011 to 2015, going 40-17.

“We’re more than confident that he’s capable of doing it,” Sanchez said. “He’s been a part of a lot of successful programs, and the development he’s shown with the offensive line over the year speaks to his ability to coach at a high, high level.”

Sanchez said a tight ends coach will be announced soon.

UNLV opens Aug. 31 against Southern Utah at Sam Boyd Stadium.

More Rebels: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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