UNLV football recruits play waiting game for new coach

Trio of players say their commitment is solid, but still taking calls from other schools

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Special to the Sun / Denton Record-Chronicle

Luke Russell, a wide receiver from Guyer High in Denton, Texas, is one of three high school seniors who have verbally committed to the UNLV football program. He said Tuesday that his commitment is still solid.

One high school football player who verbally committed to the UNLV football team hasn't heard from anyone affiliated with the program in nearly a month.

Another commit had his November recruiting trip delayed for a week, then indefinitely postponed.

Still, the three high school seniors who have committed to UNLV said this week that they plan on sticking with the Rebels come national signing day Feb. 3.

The group — wide receiver Luke Russell from Denton, Texas, defensive end Ray Stovall from Tulsa, Okla., and defensive lineman Quentin Jones from Columbus, Ohio, — currently is rated as the nation's No. 114 recruiting class out of 126 schools by recruiting Web site Rivals.com.

The three-athlete class surely will grow when Mike Sanford's replacement is hired in the upcoming days. That coach, however, will be severely behind in the process — several schools have commitments from 20-plus athletes, while most have received verbals from at least 10.

Sanford was fired in late November and his assistants were told two weeks ago that their contracts wouldn't be renewed. With no coach in place, recruiting has been at a virtual standstill — retained graduate assistants and a volunteer coordinator have been assigned to track recruits and handle minor paperwork.

"It all depends on the head coach, but right now I'm still 100-percent committed," said Russell, a wide receiver from Guyer High in Denton, Texas, who committed in July.

All three, despite their solid commitments, have been contacted frequently by multiple schools.

Russell said he has received the most interest from TCU, while other schools from UNLV's Mountain West Conference like San Diego State and New Mexico have also made contact.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Russell said he picked UNLV because of the offense the Rebels ran under former offensive coordinator Todd Berry, who was hired Tuesday as the head coach at Louisiana-Monroe. Berry also recruited Stovall, a defensive end from Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa, Okla.

"Coach Berry's offense is so unique. It fits my ability to a T," said Russell, who had 58 catches for 842 yards and six touchdowns this fall, helping Guyer reach the 4A state semifinals. "I don't know what I am doing until the new head coach is hired. Obviously, if they hired a coach who runs the wishbone, I won't be coming."

Stovall, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound weakside defensive end, said he hasn't been in contact with anyone from the program since the week prior to Sanford's dismissal — a span of more than three weeks, he estimates. Stovall had 95 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior as Booker T. Washington High won Oklahoma's 5A state title.

Stovall said Berry initially sold him on UNLV, but he has since done his own research online and has fell in love with the school.

"UNLV has a lot to offer," Stovall said. "I'm not stressing. I know they are going to get a new head coach, and no matter who the coach is, he will make the program better. I'm pretty excited about that."

Jones, who committed to UNLV as a junior, also still plans on signing in February. A four-year varsity performer at Columbus' Northland High, Jones said he is loyal to UNLV because the program has been loyal to him.

Jones committed to the Rebels as a junior, then tore the ACL in his knee during the first quarter of the first game of his senior season. He was recruited by former UNLV defensive line coach Andre Patterson — a respected coach with NFL experience Jones was looking forward to playing for ̵ and said UNLV honored his scholarship even with the injury.

"I just had big plans to try and help that team get better," said Jones, who had surgery Sept. 10 and is more than halfway done with his rehab.

Jones said he was scheduled to take his official recruiting trip during the final weekend of November when the Rebels hosted San Diego State. But coaches called and told him the trip would delayed until the weekend of Dec. 5. Then, it was canceled.

Now, Jones is fielding calls from the likes of Miami-Ohio and Ohio University and knows a backup plan is his best option with the uncertainty.

"He is still interested in going to UNLV, but we don't know if the new coach will be interested," Northland coach Kevin Toosen said.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].

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  1. Great. Get this damn thing rolling Smatresk!

  2. maybe this can be a good thing for unlv it may force them to stay home and recruit!!! I live in las vegas and I want to see local players play on this team with along with the players from out of state!!There is no reason why local players should be going to reno to play ball that cant be there first choice..Now is the time to get things toghter unlv...

  3. thats awesome... totally abandon your recruiting class UNLV. SOMEONE isn't smart enough to pick up the phone and tell these guys the status of unlv football. Guess steichen is as good a recruiter as he was quaterback.

  4. tysuave, there is more to picking a school than if it is local school or not. My son was offered a schlorship to play at UNLV but chose to go elsewhere because he wants to be a doctor and UNLV has no medical school. Another reason is that UNLV does not have a "real college" feel as it is mainly a comuter school. But I agree that UNLV should offer more local kids, just look at all the local stars that were never offered here yet became stars at other schools.

  5. Hey LUKE RUSSELL

    I SAW YOUR HIGH LIGHT TAPE.
    I LOVE YOU HEART MOST OF ALL. YOU HAVE SPEED AND GREAT MOVES TO TAKE IT TO THE HOUSE.

    YOU WILL BE IN GREAT COMPANY AT UNLV AND I HOPE TO SEE YOU START RIGHT AWAY.

    THE FACT THAT NONE OF THE PLAYERS TRANSFERED DESPITE THE NEW HAPPENINGS AT UNLV SHOWS HOW THE PLAYERS DIG THE ATMOSPHERE AT UNLV.

    LAST YEARS CLASS WAS REALLY STRONG.
    I HOPE TO SEE YOU AS A HOME RUN THREAT ALONG WITH MIKE JOHNSON. I KNOW HEART WHEN I SEE IT AND THAT EVEN OVER YOUR SPEED WILL HELP YOUR SUCCESS TO COME AT EVERY LEVEL
    GOD1st

  6. It was reported that the retained staff was at least keeping in touch with recruits. I believe Koloskie himself stated that someone was keeping contact with the recruits.

  7. Just don't rehire staff because they are "connected" locally. Bradeson and Cink could not keep local kids they could have got away from Boise, Idaho and Nevada. Coach Fran would go JC with his son and would get after real QB prospects out of Texas. Akey and Pat Hill can recruit Vegas kids right now. Both tough minded no gimmick coaches. Hauck has little Vegas recruiting knowledge. There are local kids here that would like to play for a coach who could show them that he could get them to the NFL. This type of Coach we have never had and need to get kids to buy into staying at home. Sad to see Criner killing it at Arizona, Guy dominating OL at Arizona State, Mike Ball running over UNLV for Nevada. The kids are hear we just need a committed Coach to get after these kids.

    Tuberville, Koetter or Fulmer please!