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UNLV’s Darren Palmer a finalist for service award

UNLV senior Darren Palmer was named a finalist for the Armed Forces Merit Award.

Five individuals, including Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, as well as the Athletes of Valor organization made the final list. The winner will be announced Thursday.

Palmer joined the Air Force in 2009 and served four years, receiving E-4 Senior Airman status, and was stationed in Alaska and Hawaii. He also was in the Air National Guard for three years.

Palmer tried out for UNLV in the 2017 offseason, making the roster into time for spring practices. He is a reserve wide receiver who has appeared in every game this season on special teams, including in Saturday’s game against No. 20 Fresno State at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Personnel moves

UNLV redshirt freshman Justice Oluwaseun received his first career start, going in at right tackle. He tore an ACL in spring practices, but came back ahead of schedule and appeared in four games before this one.

In the secondary, Evan Austrie returned at strong safety after a knee injury kept him out the previous week at San Jose State. Alex Perry started at cornerback for the second week in a row in place of Jericho Flowers, who has been battling a hamstring injury.

Freshman wide receiver Patrick Ballard played on special teams, making his UNLV debut. Because of the new redshirt rule, he can play these final four games and not lose a season of eligibility.

Man on the spot

Rebels linebacker Javin White intercepted a pass in the second quarter, his second of the season and just the third for UNLV.

Safety Dalton Baker had the other interception, and nearly picked off a Fresno State pass before wide receiver Derrion Grim knocked away the ball.

Rebels-Bulldogs connections

There is quite a bit of familiarity between UNLV and Fresno State.

Rebels defensive coordinator Tim Skipper was a standout linebacker at Fresno State from 1997 to 2000 and was an assistant coach from 2006 to 2011.

UNLV outside linebackers coach Eric Brown played for the Bulldogs in 2007, a student assistant from 2008 to 2010 and a graduate assistant from 2011 to 2012.

On the other side, Fresno State running backs coach Jamie Christian and defensive backs coach J.D. Williams were on the Rebels’ staff in 2015 and 2016. Bulldogs grad assistant Matt Lea was a linebacker at UNLV and was part of the Rebels’ 45-20 victory over Fresno State in 2016.

Picking the Rebels to cover

The UNLV-Fresno State game was one of three of Chris “The Bear” Fallica’s weekly picks on ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

Listing the Rebels as 26½-point underdogs, Fallica said he was taking the points and the home team.

He went 3-0 last weekend.

More Rebels: Follow all of our UNLV coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

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

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