Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 | 1:10 a.m.
- Mountain West will stage a football championship game starting in 2013
- Ray Brewer: Answering questions about the proposed UNLV Now stadium project
- UNLV football makes a change to its coaching staff, hires Timm Rosenbach as offensive coordinator
- Ray Brewer: New stadium would be major score for city, instant program changer for UNLV football
- Planned stadium will be state’s ‘next big thing,’ UNLV official says
- UNLV football adds four midyear JC transfers
- All UNLV Football Coverage
2013 recruits expected to sign Wednesday
- *C.J. Backlund, OL, 6-3, 285, Chabot C.C. (Hayward, Calif.)
- DeVonte Boyd, WR, 6-1, 172, Basic High
- Efrem Clark, DE, 6-3, 265, Trinity Valley C.C. (Athens, Texas)
- Damon Collins, DB, 5-11, 180, Diablo Valley C.C. (Pleasant Hill, Calif.)
- Kori Gaines, DB, 5-9, 165, College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita, Calif.)
- Niko Kapeli, RB, 5-8, 2-5, Liberty High
- *Jack Killian, WR, 6-0, 195, San Joaquin Delta C.C. (Stockton, Calif.)
- *Asten Koki, DT, 6-3, 255, Mt. San Antonio C.C. (Walnut, Calif.)
- Jared Lebowitz, 6-3, 195, St. Francis High (La Canada, Calif.)
- David Moffitt, LB, 6-2, 205, De La Salle High (Concord, Calif.)
- *Pingi Moli, DE, 6-4, 250, Mt. San Antonio C.C. (Walnut, Calif.)
- Jacobie Russell, TE, 6-4, 225, North Shore High (Galena Park, Texas)
- Kyle Saxelid, OL, 6-7, 240, Cosumnes Oaks High (Elk Grove, Calif.)
- Charles Spencer, LB, 6-0, 200, American Canyon High (American Canyon, Calif.)
- *Siuea Vaesau, DE, 6-3, 235, Diablo Valley C.C. (Pleasant Hill, Calif.)
- Keith Whitely, RB, 5-10, 180, La Porte High (La Porte, Texas)
- Anthonio Zepeda, DE, 6-5, 230, Camelback High (Phoenix, AZ)
At this time last year, UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck was putting the finishing touches on a pair of moves that solidified arguably the best of his three recruiting classes. Bishop Gorman grads Ron Scoggins and Marc Philippi changed their commitments from New Mexico to the Rebels the night before signing day, a move that strengthened UNLV and hurt an opponent.
Hauck will hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce his fourth recruiting class on national signing day, and as the hours tick down, it’s possible the final list of signees will look different from the 17-player list on the right side of this page.
After all, Hauck said last year that coaches generally lose as many of those last-minute battles as they win, so the Rebels aren’t guaranteed to get everyone they’re hoping for. Or maybe they’ll add more. It’s a race to the finish for programs across the country.
In fact, UNLV was already on the losing side of one recruit’s decision this weekend when Kani Benoit, a three-star running back from Phoenix, jumped at an offer Sunday from Oregon just after returning from a visit there. Benoit had originally committed to Colorado State, then switched to UNLV. Players can make any number of verbal commitments but aren’t tied to a school until they sign a letter of intent.
It’s possible the Rebels were never going to get Benoit to sign on the dotted line, but it’s certain now. Not all news was bad news this weekend, though. On Friday night, the Rebels picked up a commitment from 6-foot-2 linebacker David Moffitt out of California’s De La Salle High. Moffitt also was considering Pac-12 schools and other Mountain West Conference programs.
He’s UNLV’s first three-star recruit, according to Rivals.com, though the recruiting site 247sports.com has him as the program’s fifth three-star guy according to its own rankings and a composite ranking from several recruiting sites, including Rivals. The Rebels, along with the rest of the Mountain West, don’t have any four-star guys.
Overall the league, which this year will include 12 teams and a conference title game for the first time, hasn’t made a whole lot of waves on the national recruiting scene. The top-ranked class belongs to Boise State, which ranks 56th in the country, according to 247sports.com’s composite rankings. UNLV comes in at ninth in the league and 104th in the country.
After a third consecutive two-win season, Hauck tried to address some of the Rebels’ issues with junior college players who are more likely to contribute right away. UNLV signed five players to its midyear class, all of them from California, and there are three more expected to sign Wednesday. The signed group includes two offensive players — an offensive lineman and a wide receiver — and three defensive linemen. Hauck also has commitments from a couple of high school defensive ends, a pair of defensive backs and another linebacker. The Rebels ranked second to last in the league in total defense last season.
On the offensive side, the stars of the class could be a pair of local athletes: Basic wide receiver DeVonte Boyd and Liberty running back Niko Kapeli. Boyd could find a role immediately in the passing attack while Kapeli, a probable redshirt candidate, adds depth to the backfield behind starter Tim Cornett and backup Adonis Smith, a junior from Northwestern who sat out last season because of NCAA transfer rules. Kapeli and fellow incoming freshman Keith Whitely (La Porte, Texas) could have an outside shot to get carries as the third-string back because of redshirt junior Bradley Randle’s decision to declare for the NFL draft.
UNLV’s class isn’t going to turn a lot of heads, and you probably won’t see a lot of the freshmen on the field in 2013. That last part is a good thing, though. It's a sign that although the on-field results aren’t where UNLV or fans want them, at least the age and experience of the guys on the field should be trending higher.
Hauck and his staff, including new offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach, are facing basically a "bowl game or bust" scenario this season. The odds, certainly, are against it, and achieving that goal probably has more to do with UNLV’s offseason work to improve what it already has. Improvement from guys such as Scoggins, who had to step into the starting lineup because of injuries along the offensive line.
Considering the situation, UNLV was very pleased with what Scoggins was able to do. And without a last-minute commitment change, the Rebels would have had to look elsewhere.
In the next 24 hours, UNLV has a chance to work down to the wire to win a couple of those battles, like last year. Although the outcome won’t likely decide the Rebels' season, the chance to create a winning environment starts now.