rebels football:

UNLV redshirt freshman QB Nick Sherry ready to compete for starting spot

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry seen March 6, 2012.

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When the UNLV football team struggled at the quarterback position last fall, coach Bobby Hauck wound up giving three of the four signal callers in the program a start in looking for a solution.

Several fans were hoping the fourth quarterback, freshman Nick Sherry who was redshirting, would also get a chance in what turned out being the Rebels’ second straight two-win season. Hauck also flirted with the idea of allowing Sherry to make his collegiate debut, but quickly realized wouldn’t be much of a solution in the long term.

“We actually talked about it early on,” Hauck said of pulling Sherry’s redshirt. “Generally, that is not productive in the long term. It can give you some short-term relief, but in the long term it isn’t the right thing to do.”

Spring practices begin Monday at Rebel Park, giving Sherry a chance to compete with Caleb Herring, Sean Reilly and junior college transfer James Boyd for the starting position. Nothing will likely be decided during the 15-practice spring, but Hauck plans on giving the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Sherry more than his share of reps in the evaluation process.

Sherry is likely the quarterback of the future — whether that future is in late August when the Rebels open by hosting Minnesota, in the middle of next year or in an upcoming season.

“He brings a lot of intelligence, he’s got all of the throws, he has a big arm, and he can deliver the ball and get it there in a hurry when he needs to,” Hauck said. “I am kind of excited to see him in the spring, too. It’s different from running the scout team to running the real offense. We don’t want to heap too much on his shoulders initially. We want him to grown into it and will give him a chance to do that.”

Sherry originally committed to Colorado during his senior year at Casa Grande High in Petaluma, Calif., picking the Pac-12 program over offers from schools such as Washington, Arizona and San Diego State. But when Colorado got a new coaching staff, Sherry reopened his recruitment and UNLV was able get a steal of a prospect. As a senior, he passed for 2,700 yards and 25 touchdowns in leading his team to an 11-2 record and Sonoma County League title.

On national signing day, after Sherry faxed in his signed national letter of intent to UNLV, he remembers a phone conversation with Hauck and the energy in the coach’s voice. “He talked about how we where going to compete and go for that league title,” Sherry said. “That is what I am going to do, go out and compete and try to contribute to that.”

Despite being anointed as the quarterback of the future, Sherry knows winning the job will be easier said than done. That competition is good news for a UNLV team that last year only passed for 1,315 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games to rank 118th out of 120 Division I teams in passing yards.

Sherry has spent most of the off-season working to change the Rebels’ fortunes. With several others, they go through involuntary workouts at Rebel Park during the afternoon, which includes 7-on-7 drills to become more familiar with the team’s skilled-position players.

“I’m a drop-back passer. It is the quarterback’s job to get the ball to his playmakers and I try to get everyone involved,” Sherry said. “I’m excited for the challenge and ready for it.”

Rising junior Herring led the Rebels in 2011 with 1,004 passing yards and eight touchdowns — horrible numbers for a near full-time Division I quarterback. Herring had three interceptions returned for a touchdown against Southern Utah, and the following week against UNR, completed just one pass in 14 attempts for eight yards in playing the entire game.

Senior-to-be Reilly was ineffective last year in reserve duty with a few starts, completing 19-of-39 passes for 189 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Red-shirt freshman Taylor Barnhill also got a chance to start, playing at New Mexico because of injury, and rushing for 77 yards and passing for 54 yards. Barnhill has been moved to linebacker starting in the spring.

“We didn’t have enough in the throwing game last year,” Hauck said. “While we struggled in the pass game, we were still really successful running it. That (allowed) me to have great hopes that we can achieve some balance and put some points on the board and start running up some yards.”

Sherry has already made strides in transitioning from a high school to college quarterback. In addition to adding about 15 pounds of bulk, Sherry spent his red-shirt year becoming comfortable with the faster pass of the college game and the more complex defenses.

“I want to come in and help turn this program around,” he said. “I just fell in love with UNLV (during the recruiting process). I’m excited for the opportunity and glad it’s finally here. Hopefully we can get to being that championship caliber team.”

Spring practice runs through the April 20 spring showcase, the Rebels’ version of a spring game, which is 5 p.m. at Rebel Park.

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

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  1. might want to get an editor for that article, Word's spell check doesn't do a great job of checking for context... embarrassing how many misspelled words there were...

  2. thinking the exact same thing

  3. So here we have a great article about an up and coming quarterback excited about the football program and it gets 2 posts complaining about the grammar! Sheeeesh! Isn't it any wonder we have the worst fans in the country!

    Good luck Nick! Sounds like you have an exciting future! With Adonis coming in, there is some great football to look forward to!

  4. Rebelheart....I agree. who really cares about spelling...here's a kid who wants turn things around & give a little hope.It'll be tough for him but he seems to have the fight.Pace yourself youngster just give it all you got & don't quit even in the tough times...Good things will happen.

  5. Ok Nick 7 on 7 drills will pay-off, drop back qb, strong running game. Qb should be able to check down to running backs and keep us out of 2 and long.
    Remember quality qb play can turn things around real quick. Smart decisions manage the game and you'll be fine.
    Good luck

  6. Hope the Rebs can get some wins this season, especially opening it up with 4 home games! With the caliber of football schools that were interested in Sherry, I'm hoping he's at least a small answer to many questions this next season.

  7. With a much easier schedule, a maturing O-line and Defense, new and fiery quarterback battle, and some big play special teamers coming back, I don't think it's out of the question to get 5-8 wins, perhaps even bowl eligibility. Hell, if we simply stay competitive and close through ALL our games it would be great.

    Go rebs!

  8. At least he looks the part.