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August 20, 2014

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prep recruiting:

Utah football grabs another top Las Vegas recruit in Durango RB Marcus Williams

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Durango’s Marcus Williams from the Sun’s All-City team.

The University of Utah football team has made a history of finding its future standouts at Las Vegas-area high schools.

Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester of Valley High helped the Utes go undefeated in 2008 and is currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cimarron-Memorial High product Eddie Wide finished his career in 2010 with more than 2,000 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, and wide receiver Devonte Christopher of Canyon Springs will be one of Utah’s top players this fall.

Durango High rising senior Marcus Williams hopes to continue to trend. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back verbally committed to Utah this weekend, picking the Utes over offers from Idaho, New Mexico and New Mexico State.

In 2012, Utah will have four from Southern Nevada on the roster — something that weighed heavy on Williams’ decision.

“Seeing all those Vegas guys have success definitely influenced (my decision),” Williams said.

Williams flew under the recruiting radar because he played in just three games last fall during his junior season after transferring to Durango from Bishop Gorman. And while he shined in those contests, it wasn’t enough to receive much recruiting interest.

Williams rushed for 237 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries last year against Sierra Vista in his best game of the year. He also scored twice against Pahrump Valley and had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Desert Oasis.

But this offseason, he put himself squarely on the recruiting map with solid performances at national recruiting showcases.

Williams bested nearly 1,300 other recruits in early April by recording the highest score at the Nike Football SPARQ Combine in Long Beach, Calif. The SPARQ rating system — which uses times in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuffle, knelling ball toss and vertical jump — is one of the criteria used by college coaches in evaluating recruits. SPARQ is an acronym for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness.

Williams had the top 40-yard dash time (4.43 seconds) and vertical jump (39.4 inches) to record the highest rating of the day at 128.91 points. The SPARQ tour continued to other cities, and Williams’ score still ranks as one of the best nationally.

Instead of recruiters waiting for game film from his senior season for further evaluation, they quickly realized they couldn't pass on his raw talent. Soon, the offers started rolling in — first with Idaho, then New Mexico and New Mexico State.

Having the chance to carry the ball for Utah, which plays in the Pac-12 Conference, was simply too good of an opportunity to pass on. For Williams, committing finally ends the trials and tribulations of his rough season and validates the gaudy combine times.

“I can’t believe I’m going to college,” he said.. “I’m so happy everything worked out.”

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

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  1. So New Mexico, New Mexico State and Idaho with their massive recruiting budgets can find Durango High School and UNLV can not? Getting local talent to stay in Las Vegas was supposed to be a key to Hauck? Now we read this?

    Same old story with UNLV Football, go after low level California kids and still not win enough to qualify for a bowl game. If you are not going to recruit local kids, you better win. So far that is not the story at UNLV. Sorry the clock is ticking for Bobby. Much like how UNLV chooses their announcers - being local with UNLV connection (like a degree from UNLV)is not important. Yet they want people to wear their colors and the people making these announcements have no ties to UNLV and actually actively support the schools that they graduate from.

    Utah has been able to grab kids from Vegas that would make a difference. How UNLV expects locals to wear their colors when local kids get offers to go elsewhere is beyond me. Same people who had Dave McCann as their radio announcer while he was a BYU Alumni President, where is he now - he is now involved with BYU. Local kids who can play and dont even get an offer? Sounds like a familiar story at UNLV.

  2. I don't know the full story behind this, but I will say this: Coach Hauck has been acknowledged by several knowledgeable UNLV fans as having done far more to recruit local kids than in times past.

    It has been commented that there are more local kids on the UNLV roster than ever before. Don't charge Coach Hauck with not going after local kids. It was a hallmark of his success when he was at Montana. I can't understand statements that Bobby Hauck does not care about local recruits when the opposite is the truth.

    I said I don't know the whole story behind Williams' decision, and I'll bet those who have jumped to conclusions as to why he isn't coming to UNLV don't, either.

    Someone commented about the chance to play at a BCS school. How do any of you know that UNLV never had a chance, anyway? Maybe UNLV didn't make an offer because early on it was clear this kid wasn't interested, and so Coach Hauck & staff chose not to waste their time. That a school doesn't make an offer does not mean it wasn't interested in the player.

    But to charge Coach Hauck as not being interested in local talent is patently false. In fact, on the local UNLV board, Hauck has been criticized for recruiting local HS players, that going with JuCo and transfer players is preferable.

    If Coach Hauck could do anything about it, he'd prefer to have all local kids on his teams and still win. But, local kids will have to work to make his teams, nevertheless. They won't be window dressing.

  3. Gang: I'm going to defend Hauck, too. He's recruited Las Vegas better than any UNLV coach before him. Getting Philippi and Scoggins from Gorman last year was huge step in the right direction, and getting a verbal from Kapeli from Liberty is another notch in his belt. Marcus is still very, very raw. He has limited varsity reps. It's a calculated gamble by Utah.

  4. lvfootbal: What do you mean by "but UNLV seems to be passing on most all of them?" You qualify (as you should) by using "seems to be." You really don't know, do you? It may be true, as you suggest, that a lot of local football talent is going out of state.

    None of us know exactly why, but I guarantee you that Hauck & staff have tried or at least approached them to play for UNLV. There are a lot of factors in a kid's and his parents decision where to play college football, and it's either naivete or ignorance or a combination to jump to conclusions that Coach Hauck & staff don't try to get local kids to play at UNLV.

    I'm sure Hauck & staff have scouted all local talent and may very well have decided a player will not work out at UNLV, regardless of how good he looks in HS. Hauck is good at that sort of thing.

    It's also true that Hauck had overlooked some MT HS players who walked on at Montana, and after playing under Hauck, wound up in the NFL. Coaches aren't perfect in assessing potential talent. But, the last criticism of Hauck that can be made is that he doesn't go after local talent.

    Unless you have more than just blanket statements to prove otherwise.

  5. I cannot dispute, lvfootball, what you say. Apparently, you have more intimate knowledge than I do as to the specifics of Hauck's recruiting. Hauck is building a system that worked for him at Montana. The system that UNLV used before Hauck was not successful.

    I know that players, esp. the OL, differ in abilities to play in a spread system vs. a pro-style system. That's as much as I can say.

    It may be that what you rate as "best local players," Hauck has not pursued, because they don't fit his system. It may be that there's a difference between what you rate and what Hauck rates.

    Neither you nor I nor anyone else can know why Hauck has "passed over" top local players. I seriously doubt you know if these "top" local players had UNLV on their radar in the first place, and Hauck had to know this. He had to know it. He's not that kind of coach to be ignorant of the talent "that's worth a tank of gas" to visit. There's more to this story than either you (I think) nor I (certainly) can know.

    Just stop this nonsense that Hauck & staff are indifferent to local talent. That's simply not Hauck's style, at least in the years he was at Montana. I still say there's more to this story than either of us know.

  6. Coach Hauck and his staff are very active in pursuing local talent. I attended a UNLV Senior Day last August that was by invite only for the high school football class of 2012. All the Gorman studs were there as well as most of the top 25 recruits in Nevada. Coach Hauck and his staff did an excellent job showcasing the UNLV football program. So there's no lack of effort by UNLV to recruit local talent.

  7. this is the problem, Coach Hauck is starting to recruit locally the problem is that these kids have been ignored for so long, UNLV is not on the radar. Solutions 1 recruiting early, identify talent early before the other schools get on the bandwagon, by showing attention before anyone else knows who they are will give them a leg up. 2 ocal marketing and exposer, UNLV does not have good exposer to the local market, no local channel shows UNLV games live or tape delayed 3 the facilities are behind other schools need an upgrade, dont know if the have the money to do that but compared to other school they are not up to par. Remember, the more local kids, more fans, and hopefully more wins and money money for the progam

  8. Hauck has not recruited the area well and he is a world away from approaching the success of John Robinson. At least Robinson could bring in out of state kids who were good players. Hauck has taken UNLV to new lows and UNLV was just too cash strapped to fire him last year. He may be worse than Sanford. Ouch.