REBELS FOOTBALL:

Basic lineman J’Ondray Sanders has unlimited potential, set to sign with UNLV football

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Sanders is expected to be the lone local to sign with hometown school, fits into Hauck’s desires of having big and athletic linemen

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Leila Navidi

UNLV football recruit and Basic High School senior J’Ondray Sanders, 18, at Basic High School in Henderson on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012.

J'Ondray Sanders

UNLV football recruit and Basic High School senior J'Ondray Sanders, 18, at Basic High School in Henderson on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. Launch slideshow »

2012 UNLV football recruits expected to sign Wednesday

  • Dominic Baldwin, DE, 6-5, 225, Santa Maria, Calif.
  • *James Boyd, QB, 6-5, 245, West Los Angeles College (already enrolled)
  • Tom Clarkson, OL, 6-6, 290, Mission, British Columbia
  • Marcell Frazier, DE, 6-5, 220, Portland, Ore.
  • David Greene, RB, 5-11, 183, Dallas
  • Troy Hawthorne, ATH, 6-2, 180, Peoria, Ariz.
  • Trevor Hemsath, OL, 6-6, 285, Douglas High in Minden
  • *Parker Holloway, DE, 6-5, 245,Trinity Valley College
  • Charles Howard, OL, 6-5, 295, Stockton, Calif.
  • Trent Langham, LB, 6-3, 205, Garden Grove, Calif.
  • Matt Lea, DB, 5-11, 195, Fresno, Calif.
  • Marc Philippi., LB, 5-11, 210, Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas
  • J’Ondray Sanders, OL, 6-4, 260, Basic High in Henderson
  • Ron Scoggins Jr., OL, 6-3, 300, Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas
  • Michael Thomas, WR, 6-3, 168, Elk Grove, Calif.
  • Mia Valoaga, TE, 6-6, 210, Oxnard, Calif. (Spokane, Wash.)
  • * denotes junior-college transfer

    — May be incomplete. Source Rivals.com

When J’Ondray Sanders begins his morning workout session in the Basic High School weight lifting room, the senior can’t help but noticing other students in the weight training class staring in his direction.

Sanders, you see, is the big man on campus — and not because of his 6-foot-4, 260-pound frame.

Ever since Sanders verbally committed in early January to the UNLV football program, the offensive lineman’s popularity has spiked in the first period class of mostly football players. Sanders on Wednesday will sign a national letter of intent with UNLV, becoming the first Basic player in more than 15 years to go directly to a Division I program.

“It’s an honor. It really is,” Sanders said. “My teammates all look up to me. Like the junior varsity guys (in the weight room). It inspires me to drive hard.”

Sanders is considered a project for the rebuilding Rebels and has agreed to gray-shirt, meaning he will defer his enrollment until January 2013 and could potentially also have to red-shirt before playing his freshman season. UNLV was the lone school to offer Sanders a scholarship, keeping with coach Bobby Hauck’s philosophy of being creative on the recruiting trail in finding less-heralded players with the characteristics to blossom into a serviceable player. Hauck is unable to comment on prospects until they sign, per NCAA guidelines.

“They like how athletic I am and how I can move, and how big I will end up getting,” Sanders said.

Sanders fits Hauck’s desires to have tall and athletic lineman, following in the footsteps of locals Cameron Jefferson (Desert Oasis) and Tyler Gaston (Rancho) in the coach’s first UNLV recruiting class two years ago. UNLV was also the lone school offer for both players — and both have been major contributors early in their career, including the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Jefferson starting the final seven games on the offensive line last fall in his red-shirt freshman year.

Like Jefferson and Gaston, a defensive lineman who also started last year, one of Sanders’ strengths is his athleticism.

“He has always had the size. He is coming into his own athletically, which got him noticed,” Basic coach Jeff Cahill said. “He’s a real athletic kid. They are going to give him a couple of years to mature and get a little bigger and stronger.”

Sanders had received general recruiting letters from UNLV — similar to what they send hundreds of local players — during the fall inviting him to attend a home game. He was also being lightly recruited by Southern Utah, but was told there were a few players ahead of him on the scholarship depth chart.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, he received a phone call from UNLV assistant coach Kraig Paulson, the primary local recruiter. Paulson asked Sanders to be on campus at 3 p.m. the following day.

Not knowing what to expect, an excited and optimistic Sanders bummed a ride to campus for the meeting. While talking with coaches in the football office, they pulled out a calendar and mapped out how they envisioned his career playing out.

If he continues to progress — like he did at Basic in becoming a two-year varsity starter and all-Southeast Division selection — coaches feel his potential could be limitless. They offered him a scholarship and he immediately accepted. It was a huge relief for Sanders, who is the first from his family to attend college.

“It all happened so fast,” Sanders said. “It happened with a phone call asking me to come down there the next day. My girlfriend dropped me off and within a hour I had a scholarship.”

Hauck, as witnessed by taking a player such as Sanders who was under the recruiting radar, continues to show his dedication to recruiting locals. UNLV late Tuesday also received commitments from Bishop Gorman High's Marc Philippi and Ron Scoggins Jr, meaning 12 locals have received scholarships in Hauck's three-year recruiting tenure.

“They are doing a lot better job recruiting Las Vegas. Just look at all of the (local) kids over there now,” Cahill said. “That’s going to be key for their success.”

Sanders added, “The plan (Hauck) has for the future of this team are high. His expectations are high. We’ll be a good team in a few years.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. Congratulations Son! Keep God in your Heart Baby and He will Guide you through the rest of your life! I love you so very much!--Love, Mommie