UNLV tearing up recruiting trail with 19 verbal commitments

By EFN Staff
Published: 01/28/2015

Before Tony Sanchez left Bishop Gorman to become the next head coach at UNLV, the six year high school head coach with six consecutive Nevada state championships had a blank recruiting slate to work with having just two verbal commitments from the previous staff. In four weeks Sanchez has traveled throughout the west and southwest region picking up 17 commitments making UNLV one of the hottest schools on the recruiting trail.

Sanchez took over for Bobby Hauck who resigned following a 2-11 season. In recent years UNLV has spent more time trying to become bowl eligible than trying to work on a Mountain West title. With new life on the Las Vegas sidelines, Sanchez has a fresh perspective and a winning background to pitch to high school recruits. In his six seasons at Bishop Gorman he posted a record of 85-5 and prospects are responding.

When UNLV hired Sanchez he became just the third high school coach ever to jump to the Division-I ranks of head coach without being an assistant at the collegiate or NFL level first. Lack of coaching experience at the higher divisions did not bode well for the other two coaches but Sanchez has done something the other coaches never did, win six straight state championships proving he can turnover a roster year after year and still field dominating team.

When National Signing Day comes the UNLV class may not be lauded on the ranks of the Power Five Conferences that grab the majority of the headlines but talented players and some overlooked diamonds in the rough already dot the Rebels’ commitment list. Among the overlooked is Canyon Spring defensive lineman Melvin Johnson. Johnson is a tweener listed at 6’4”, 250 pounds, but plays the game with a dominating skill set and motor wanted at the next level. His frame can add weight to move inside or he can stay on the outside becoming a bookend defender.

Pierce College transfer cornerback Jay’Onn Myles is an added talent that can challenge for a starting position on day one. Silverado High School offensive guard Justin Polu has the size and frame to be an immediate addition to the two-deep chart listed at 6’4”, 297 pounds. Former Hawaii commitment Salanoa-Alo Wily decommitted from the Warriors and snubbed offers from Colorado and Oregon State to join Sanchez in Vegas. Center Alex Neale, 6’3”, 290 pounds, brings a winning pedigree with him from Eastside Catholic High School in Bellevue, Washington.

Another diamond in the rough is 5’11”, 208 pound, Bellaire High School running back Xzaviar Campbell. Campbell rushed for over 1,000 yards as a junior earning First-Team All-District honors in Texas. During his senior season he had 28 less carries but still rushed for over 800 yards scoring 16 touchdowns, four more than during his junior campaign.

Coach Sanchez still has a ways to go before solidifying his 2015 recruiting class and even further to go before making UNLV into a Mountain West powerhouse, but the hard work from the new staff is already starting to pay dividends. Improving upon a 2-11 season should not be hard to do and any signs of improvement from the Rebels team in 2015 will have Sanchez adding more excitement on the recruiting trail getting prospects to buy into what UNLV is trying to do in years to come making this program one to watch going forward.

UNLV 2015 Commitment List
CB Jay’Onn Myles, 5’9”, 175 lbs, LA Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California
CB Thaddeus Philyaw, 6’1”, 190 lbs, De Anza College, Cupertino, California
DE Mark Finau, 6’3”, 230 lbs, LA Valley C.C., Valley Glen, California
DE Melvin Johnson, 6’4”, 250 lbs, Canyon Springs HS, North Las Vegas, Nevada
DE Gabe McCoy, 6’2”, 220 lbs, Pittsburg HS, Antioch, California
DT Salanoa-Alo Wily, 6’0”, 265 lbs, Kahuku HS, Kahuku, Hawaii
LB Mark Finau, 6’3”, 230 lbs, Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys, California
LB Nela Otukolo, 5’11”, 230 lbs, Bishiop Gorman, Las Vegas, Nevada
OC Will Kreitler, 6’0”, 290 lbs, Scottsdale C.C., Scottsdale, Arizona
OC Alex Neale, 6’3”, 290 lbs, Eastside Catholic HS, Bellevue, Washington
OG Natanael Jocobson, 6’5”, 250 lbs, Snohomish HS, Snohomish, Washington
OG Justin Polu, 6’4”, 297 lbs, Silverado, Las Vegas, Nevada
QB Kurt Palandech, 6’2”, 190 lbs, Laney C.C., Oakland, California
QB Dalton Sneed, 6’1”, 180 lbs, Horizon High School, Scottsdale, Arizona
RB Xzaviar Campbell, 5’11”, 208 lbs, Bellaire High School, Bellaire, Texas
RB Lexington Thomas, 5’9”, 178 lbs, Aldine Davis, Houston, Texas
WR Brandon Presely, 6’0”, 170 lbs, Great Oak HS, Temecula, California
WR/S Jarvin White, 6’2”, 178 lbs, McClymonds, Oakland, California
WR Darren Woods, 5’11”, 196 lbs, Elkins HS, Missouri City, Texas

Photo credit:; Richard Sanchez on the Bishop Gorman sidelines.