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July 31, 2014

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prep recruiting:

Wanting to leave Las Vegas for college, Gorman’s Marc Phillipi picks New Mexico football over UNLV

With national signing day approaching, Centennial’s Jacobi Owens also makes a commitment — picking Air Force

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Bishop Gorman linebacker Marc Phillipi (7) tackles Reed running back Ty Shepard during the NIAA state championship football game in Reno Dec. 3rd, 2011.

Updated Friday, Jan. 27, 2012 | 11:04 p.m.

The New Mexico football program has landed another prospect from Southern Nevada in a direct recruiting battle with hometown UNLV.

Bishop Gorman High safety and linebacker Marc Phillipi verbally committed to New Mexico on Friday, picking the Lobos and new coach Bob Davie over offers from UNLV and Navy.

Last weekend, Gorman offensive guard Ron Scoggins Jr. committed to New Mexico. Scoggins, whose father Ron Scoggins Sr. played for UNLV in the 1980s, had offers from UNLV, Fresno State, New Mexico State and San Jose State.

Like Las Vegas High quarterback Hasaan Henderson, who early this month picked UNR over UNLV , Phillipi had nothing but positives to say about the UNLV coaches and program. It's just both players wanted the opportunity to leave Las Vegas for college — a major hurdle UNLV, whether the program is winning or not, has to endure.

"It was a tough decision. I really like the coaches at UNLV. They did a great job recruiting me," Phillipi said. "I just want to leave Las Vegas."

Phillipi mostly played linebacker last fall at Gorman, where he recorded 59 tackles (he missed about a month of the season with an ankle injury) in being named to the all-Southwest Division team. A three-star prospect on the Rivals.com scale of five stars, he was key contributor the last three years at Gorman in helping the Gaels post a 43-3 record and win the three state championships.

Also, Gorman defensive lineman Zach Hutchins has switched his verbal pledge from San Jose State to Montana State, Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said.

In other recruiting news Friday, Centennial High running back Jacobi Owens committed to Air Force — the lone school to offer him a scholarship.

“I’m ready for the challenge,” Owens said of military life. “I’m a hard worker and I’m dedicated. I know this will set me up for the rest of my life.”

Centennial coach Leon Evans didn't hesitate giving Owens more than his share of carries. The 6-foot, 180-pound Owens carried the ball 229 times in 2011 for 1,487 yards and 14 touchdowns, including carry the ball 41 times to 277 yards against Las Vegas High.

"He's a big and strong kid. He made a lot of people miss," Evans said. "He didn't take a lot of clean tackles."

Owens said he had recruiting interest from Colorado, Utah and Southern Utah before Air Force showed late interest in December. "I really don't know how they found out about me," he said. "They just called one day out of the blue."

Centennial running back Jacobi Owens gets a big gain against the  Las Vegas defense for a touchdown during their game Friday, September 2, 2011 at Centennial High School. .  Las Vegas came from behind for a 24-21 win.

Centennial running back Jacobi Owens gets a big gain against the Las Vegas defense for a touchdown during their game Friday, September 2, 2011 at Centennial High School. . Las Vegas came from behind for a 24-21 win.

Evans said Owens carries a high grade point average and is the high-caliber type of person the service academies recruit. He expects him to thrive.

"He flourish there because he already has discipline in his life," Evans said. "He'll do well in the Academy."

Verbal commitments are non-binding until an athlete signs a national letter of intent. Signing day is Wednesday.

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

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