Rebels football:

Gorman duo highlights UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck’s third recruiting class

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Sam Morris

UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck talks to the media during a news conference to announce new football players on signing day Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012.

2012 UNLV football recruits

  • Bobby Alvarez, OL, 6-6, 330, Barstow, Calif.
  • Dominic Baldwin, DL, 6-6, 230, Santa Maria, Calif.
  • *James Boyd, QB, 6-5, 250, West Los Angeles College (already enrolled)
  • Justin Chandler, TE, 6-3, 225, Kingwood, Texas
  • Tom Clarkson, OL, 6-6, 275, Mission, British Columbia
  • Marcell Frazier, DL, 6-5, 225, Portland, Ore.
  • David Greene, DB, 6-0, 195, Dallas
  • Troy Hawthorne, QB, 6-3, 185, Glendale, Ariz.
  • *Parker Holloway, DL, 6-3, 235,Trinity Valley Community College (already enrolled)
  • Charles Howard, OL, 6-4, 320, Stockton, Calif.
  • Trent Langham, LB, 6-2, 200, Garden Grove, Calif.
  • Matt Lea, DB, 5-10, 200, Fresno, Calif.
  • Marc Philippi., DB, 5-11, 210, Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas
  • Andrew Price, TE, 6-6, 230, Blaine, Wash.
  • J’Ondray Sanders, OL, 6-5, 270, Basic High in Henderson
  • Ron Scoggins Jr., OL, 6-2, 325, Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas
  • Michael Thomas, WR, 6-2, 175, Elk Grove, Calif.
  • Jeremiah Valoaga, DL, 6-5, 225, Oxnard, Calif.
  • Anthony Williams, WR, 5-11, 190, Brentwood, Calif.
  • Jonavaughn Williams, ATH, 6-2, 200, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
  • * denotes junior-college transfer

Bobby Hauck’s third-year marathon of recruiting came down to a sprint at the finish, and the UNLV football team nudged out a few other schools to round out a 20-player signing class that looks like the best in Hauck’s tenure.

The highlight of the group is Bishop Gorman High safety Marc Philippi and offensive lineman Ron Scoggins.

Both players had made verbal commitments to New Mexico, but on Tuesday night they hit the brakes and decided to stay at home, bringing a wild finish to a recruiting season that gave Hauck his two best prospects, and perhaps more importantly two local kids, in the final hours.

“I was on the phone (Tuesday) night until 1:30 in the morning trying to flip a guy and making sure we were hanging on (to other guys),” Hauck said. “You get back up and get on the phone at 6 in the morning. Some of them don’t like that call, but you make sure they know that you’re keeping track.”

Hauck’s work down the stretch paid off with those two, as well as with 6-foot-2, 200-pound Jonavaughn Williams out of Southern California.

Williams was set to go to Colorado, but as the decision neared he had second thoughts. Only in the last three days did he make a commitment to UNLV. He’ll come in as an athlete and Hauck said Williams would most likely settle into the defensive backfield.

“It was fun this year to be the recipient 3-0 rather than losing somebody,” Hauck said.

The group is heavy in the trenches — five defensive and four offensive linemen — and also includes three defensive backs (four with Williams), two quarterbacks, two tight ends, two receivers and one linebacker. It includes only two junior-college transfers, a big difference from last year’s class, which featured eight.

More high school athletes, Hauck said, means more stability, more experienced players returning each year and a better chance for those student-athletes to succeed academically by completing all of their studies at one university. Put simply, it means that UNLV is trying to build its foundation and not just plug holes.

“As we continue to transform the makeup of our football team into a bigger, more athletic, more physical bunch, that’s kind of what this class defines,” Hauck said.

Basic High School’s J’Ondray Sanders, a 6-foot-5 offensive lineman, gives UNLV three local kids out of eight that made commitments to Division I schools. That’s a good number, even though Hauck said he would have liked to have all eight.

Sanders and Scoggins are part of a big group — average size: 6-foot-5, 300 pounds — that will shore up the guard and tackle spots along the offensive line. And Hauck said Philippi is physically ready to compete, it’s just a matter of learning the playbook and assimilating to college life.

That part should be a bit easier considering that his family will be just a short drive away. Of course, early on in the process that was something working against Hauck’s staff.

“Some of the time, the hardest kids to convince that where you are is a great place is the kids who live there,” Hauck said.

Besides the local kids, Hauck was particularly excited about another trio.

“We feel like we stole three kids from the Great Northwest,” Hauck said. “All of them are what I would consider superior prospects, they’re big framed and they’re athletic.”

That group consists of defensive lineman Marcell Frazier of Portland, Ore., offensive lineman Tom Clarkson of Mission, British Columbia, and tight end Andrew Price of Blaine, Wash.

Price played five positions in high school and also excelled on the basketball court.

“If we could cookie-cutter a guy at the tight-end spot, this would be it,” Hauck said of the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Price. “They don’t make many like this.”

Clarkson was the first player to commit to UNLV, doing so back in July despite interest from Boise State and Washington State. Hauck and Clarkson’s dad, Larry, have known each other for a long time, going back to their days at Montana.

Personal connections also helped the Rebels get defensive back Matt Lea out of Fresno, Calif. Lea’s dad is friends with Rebels assistant coach J.D. Williams.

Lea was one of several commitments who had come to Las Vegas for the Rebels’ camp, giving both parties a better chance to accurately form an opinion of the other.

Of course, Hauck said he gave every kid he talked with a good rundown of what to expect once they got to campus.

“I said, ‘Some days you’ll think I’m the worst SOB in the country,’ ” Hauck said. “ ‘But you can go in the locker room and there will be 100 guys that agree with you. So you’ll be OK.’ ”

One of the most intriguing players is junior-college transfer James Boyd, 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, who originally committed to USC out of high school. Boyd briefly played defensive end with the Trojans, then transferred to, but didn’t compete at, West Los Angeles City College.

Hauck said Boyd would get a shot at quarterback, making it a five-man race to lead the Rebels offense. Taylor Barnhill, who played some quarterback as a freshman, is moving over to tight end in the spring.

After a whirlwind finish to the recruiting season, it would make sense that Hauck take some time to relax and reward himself and his staff for their hard work.

And they’re doing the latter, it’s just that their reward on Thursday is day three of winter conditioning at 6 a.m. Judging by his demeanor Wednesday, Hauck would be ready to line them up and play today.

Pitching promise to a group of kids has a way of building that excitement.

“We sell the future is bright,” Hauck said. “We’re now going into our third year and it’s time for some of the guys who we’ve projected to be players for us to develop them and for the work that they’re putting in to pay off.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Lots of work to do. I hope these recruits can help turn the program around.

  2. Glad to see a few of the recruits change their minds and play for the home team. This is a crucial year coming up and time to see all the hard work result in more wins! I wish Coach Hauck the best!

  3. Every coach at UNLV says they will turn things around, but none of them do. I hope he can, but I'm skeptical.

  4. I'm impressed with Hauck's recruiting ability. Obviously this isn't an Auburn or LSU quality class, but he convinced 3-star recruits AND local talent to come and play for the rebels. For a 2-10 team looking forward, that's huge, I remember classes under Sanford consist of nothing but 2-stars, even when we had those back-to-back 5 win seasons!