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Rebels top recruiting commit Chandler (AZ), WR JJ Johnson offered by Oregon:
On Tuesday evening Oregon offered Chandler (AZ) High School WR and UNLV commit JJ Johnson. JJ's star has certainly risen since the start of the 2016 season. He dominated the game against Corona Centennial (catching for over 200 yards and 3 TD's vs one of the nations top teams) and it seems other "big name" schools took notice. I spoke to a source close to JJ and he said "...(JJ) is still 110% committed to UNLV though..." which is a very good sign for Tony Sanchez and his coaching staff. I was told that Johnson is the type of player that could play right away for the Rebels in 2017 and would be starting THIS YEAR if he was on the roster, in part due to all the injuries to the Rebels receivers. Johnson is an immense talent with an almost limitless ceiling. Keep in mind, when JJ spoke to ITR earlier this year (after he committed to UNLV) he said that he loved the family atmosphere at UNLV and with the coaching staff. Also, when JJ got baptized a few weeks back he was wearing UNLV gear. UNLV WR coach Cormier was in Arizona this weekend and stopped by to check in with JJ and his family.
Recruiting Updates and Rumors:
The Rebels landed a couple new recent commitments from outside linebacker Jacob Rominger from Highland CC in Kansas and WR/CB Johnny Balderas from Liberty HS in Bakersfield, CA. Rominger is 6'3 and 225 pounds that plays instinctive and aggressive. He is from Overland Park, Kansas. He will be joining me Monday to talk about his recent commitment to UNLV and his expectations for next season. Balderas is 6'1, 175 and runs a 4.6 forty and excels at returning kicks and punts. With the Rebels lack of depth at CB I could see him getting a shot there early on, but his playmaking skills could keep him at WR.
UNLV has done a good job attracting some of the better local talent to Sam Boyd this season. 3 star WR Randall Grimes (a USC commit) has been at every Rebels home game this season, as has Tony Fields II, both of Desert Pines HS. Grimes is a big, physical receiver that is a huge red zone threat and has a knack for getting open deep. While he isn't a " burner" he is a match up problem for a lot of cornerbacks. 3 star linebacker/safety Tony Fields II (an Arizona commit) is an impressive player and person. He is an athlete that projects as a special linebacker or safety at the next level and, like Grimes and JJ Johnson, the type of player that can make an impact early in his college career. Fields II is also graduating in January so he will enroll early in college and participate in spring practices. Desert Pines QB Marckell Grayson, another UNLV commit, is doing his best to keep Grimes and Fields II home at UNLV and there is rumblings that both Grimes and Fields II will flip to the Rebels.
3 star JoJo Falo, a big 6'2, 280 pound defensive tackle from San Diego's Madison High School was close to committing to UNLV after attending the Colorado St. game and is likely committing soon to the Rebels according to sources. Also at the Colorado St. game was 3 star recruit and New Mexico's top HS WR, David Cormier from Volcano Vista HS. 3 star LV Centennial HS WR and state record holder in the 300 hurdles, Savon Scarver is also high on UNLV's list. Scarver is taking his time before announcing where he is going, but it could come sooner since his teams season ended Friday night.
Rebels & Raiders Stadium Update:
Here is the latest update regarding the stadium and how it effects the Rebels and Raiders.
While the NFL does prefer the Raiders to stay in Oakland, it is becoming clearer behind closed doors that the belief is the City of Oakland is going to find another way to screw up their opportunity to attempt to keep them there and the Raiders will apply for relocation in January and the NFL will vote in March. Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartalo, who was a consultant for Ronnie Lott and the Fortress Group, came out last week and said that the deal was not one that is viable in his opinion. Lott, who is the front man for the Fortress Group who is trying to buy the land to build the stadium on, was also pessimistic in his assessment and told the San Francisco Chronicle they need a "Hail Mary" to keep the team in Oakland. I was told by a source that the money person behind the Fortress Group wants to buy into the Raiders as an owner should they secure a deal to build a stadium in Oakland but that would be a non-starter since as a Raiders source told me "The Raiders are NOT for sale. Not one piece of them." What I fear for Ronnie Lott, who is being looked upon as the "savior for the Stay in Oakland faction", is if (when) no deal is secured to keep the team in Oakland, he will be vilified by those same people.
Two weeks ago Sheldon Adelson came out in a Reuters article saying he could "live with not doing (the stadium) deal." That was a direct shot at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his very public posturing and public negotiating for Oakland. It was to the point and NFL source told me, that some powerful NFL owners had a talk with Goodell privately. The article did not send any red flags or hurt the negotiations between the Raiders, NFL and Sands Group since Adelson knows most of the owners on a personal level and both sides have been known to negotiate in public. The Raiders and the Sands Group were together the day the article was released and a source told me everything is going smoothly behind closed doors between the two sides and they don't expect anything to hold up an agreement between the two sides.
I was also told this week that several Raiders officials and players had reached out to various "friends and associates" in Las Vegas and were asking "what are the areas they should be looking into for housing and how were the schools in those areas." While this shouldn't be looked upon as a sign, it does show that they are getting their ducks in a row.
The timeline for the Raiders to come to Vegas, that should be common sense it 2019 at Sam Boyd Stadium. It is on record that the stadium wouldn't be completed until 2020 and the team has a 2 year lease in Oakland, so the 2019 season is the realistic year the Raiders could be called the LAS VEGAS Raiders. A NFL source told me that there has been provisions made with Las Vegas and Sam Boyd Stadium should the team feel it best that they move sooner. This also includes the chance the city of Oakland finds a way to break the lease agreement (that the Raiders can opt into) and force the team to relocate sooner rather then later.
UNLV is the big winner in this whole deal. They get a new stadium either way. Should the Raiders come and the NFL approve relocation they will have their new stadium in 2020 and if the NFL decides that they won't approve relocation the school has two years to raise $200 million towards a $500 million dollar stadium. I was told that raising the money won't be an issue by a UNLV source. With the Fertitta Football Complex and the stadium, Coach Sanchez will have some of the best recruiting tools at his disposal going forward. I would expect Coach Sanchez and the school to start talking about an extension after this season or sometime next season since the type of funds that are being raised wouldn't have happened if he wasn't the person in charge as well as the growth of the team on and off the field.
Lastly, I was told to expect the NFL to approve relocation for the Raiders since the market studies coming back are looking very positive for the city. I was also told that a lot of the other owners in the NFL are "proud of Mark Davis" for the way he has handled the Los Angeles situation last year and how he has navigated the waters in the Las Vegas situation. Many believed he couldn't get the state to approve $750 million in public funds for a stadium, but when he and his team did, some of the more powerful owners took notice and started to rally behind Mr. Davis and look at him differently then they did 3 or 4 years ago. He has earned their respect, and while he will never be looked upon in the same light as Jerry Jones or Robert Kraft, he also isn't being looked upon as "Tommy Boy" or some buffoon either.
Welcome Jeff Waddilove to Inside The Rebels:
I am pleased to announce that Jeff Waddilove is the Inside The Rebels basketball writer. Jeff has a passion for UNLV and in particular the Runnin Rebels basketball team. Jeff will be covering the team all year and give you the best and latest in recruiting news, game recaps, profiles and stories about the team, coaches and recruits. Please give him a warm welcome to ITR.