Freshman linebacker Tani Maka joins training camp

UNLV’s football team opened training camp today with a significant pick-up in freshman linebacker Tani Maka, who signed with UCLA last year.

Maka wasn’t cleared academically last year, but worked to meet the NCAA’s standards. He said he fell short of UCLA’s admission standards, however.

Maka (6 feet 1 inch, 230 pounds) was a Rivals.com three-star recruit when he signed with the Bruins, and was rated by the recruiting service as the nation’s No. 71 linebacker. Scout.com rated him as a two-star prospect and the No. 57 middle linebacker.

"He’s a good-looking guy, and he moves around well," UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. "How much he contributes is probably going to be determined by how fast he picks everything up."

Hauck, UNLV’s first-year coach, talked to UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel after Maka failed to qualify. Hauck worked under Neuheisel at Colorado and Washington.

"(Maka) was looking for a home, and obviously we were not too far away," Hauck said. "He decided we’re a good option, so we’re thrilled to have him."

Maka also spoke to Neuheisel about Hauck.

"He said Coach Hauck is a great coach," Maka said. "He helps his players, that somebody like me with academics, he could probably keep me in check."

Maka said he didn’t go to UNLV expecting to be handed playing time.

"The upperclassmen are teaching me everything," Maka said. "I don’t know everything, so I’m not going to come in here like I know everything."

OTHER PERSONNEL MOVES

— Sophomore defensive back Corbin Brown (6-1, 185), who went to Spring Valley High School, transferred to the Rebels from Air Force. He must sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules.

— Freshman wide receiver Mike Horsey (6-0, 170) walked on from Baltimore’s Dunbar High, which is where UNLV redshirt freshman safety Courtney Bridget went to school. Hauck described landing Horsey as "kind of a coup for us."

— Defensive lineman Desmond Tautofi will grayshirt and enroll in January, opening the way for Brett Boyko (6-7, 290), an offensive lineman from Canada who was expected to grayshirt. Now Boyko immediately joins the team.

— Senior Anthony White (6-2, 215) of Palo Verde High moved from linebacker to fullback, and freshman Perry Cooper (6-3, 220) switched from linebacker to the defensive line.

GETTING STARTED

With the players wearing shorts and no shoulder pads, it’s not easy for the coaches to make evaluations.

"It’s going to be the same thing for a couple of weeks," Hauck said. "We’re going to be up and down. There are guys you’re excited about one practice and not the next practice. That’s just the way it’s going to be.

"We’ll get on Wisconsin (Sept. 4 season opener) in about 10 days, but again, these first 10 days it will be more like spring ball where we just try to be more fundamentally sound and technically better."

Hauck said not being able to meet ahead of time didn’t help camp’s first practice, which he described as "all right."

"We weren’t mentally sharp as if maybe we had time to meet and all that," he said.

UNLV will be back at Rebel Park at 8 a.m. Sunday, again in shorts and without shoulder pads.

TOP PLAYS

— Freshman Sidney Hodge (Palo Verde graduate) blocked a field goal attempt by freshman kicker Nolan Kohorst (Green Valley).

–Junior cornerback Will Chandler made a nice play to break up a pass on the sideline.

FEELING THE HEAT

Freshman wide receiver Irshad Stolden left practice after appearing to be overcome by the heat. Hauck said he thought Stolden woke up feeling ill.

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