Stevie G's spring wrapup

At his end of spring practice press conference on Wednesday afternoon at the Lied Athletic Complex, UNLV head coach Mike Sanford said he couldn't say "for sure"that anybody had earned a starting job at many spots on his two-deep. But he did settle the question of who is No. 2 quarterback will be … for now.

Sanford said that freshman Travis Dixon, who rallied the Scarlet squad to a last second victory over the Gray in the team's Spring Game, would go into fall camp as the clear No. 2 quarterback behind Rocky Hinds.

"Travis Dixon, if we were to play right now, would be the backup," Sanford said.

Junior Dack Ishii, senior Jarrod Jackson and highly-touted freshman Mike Clausen of J.W. North High in Riverside, Calif., will all battle for the No. 3 spot in the fall.

Of course, that's assuming that 2006 starter Rocky Hinds, who sat out all of spring practice while recuperating from surgery for a torn ACL, is ready to go when the Rebels report on Aug. 2.

So far, so good on that account. Hinds began running drills last week and has not suffered any setbacks in his rehab.

"After final exams (which end May 11), he's going to go see his doctor in Los Angeles," Sanford said. "His rehab is going very well."

The hope is Hinds will be able to resume normal off-season conditioning and voluntary team drills by mid-June.

As for other positions on the team …

** Sanford said sophomore Richie Plunkett and junior Johan Asiata were "the odds on favorite(s)" to win the starting tackle spots on the offensive line. Plunkett, a transfer from Colorado State, is playing left tackle while the 6-foot-4, 325-pound Asiata is at right tackle.

** Sanford said sophomore Joe Hawley had earned the starting center job after a strong spring. "He's going to be one of the best linemen to ever play here," Sanford predicted.

** Sanford said both starting guard spots are still up in the air although he did say 2006 starter Tim Goins "improved tremendously." The other returning starter, Mike McKiski, is battling massive redshirt freshman Ramsey Feagai (6-2, 360) and converted defensive tackle Perry Eppenger. Also in the mix in the fall will be recent junior college commit Safi Moala.

** Sanford said he feels "real good" about the depth and quality of the talent at wide receiver where two all-MWC players, Ryan Wolfe and Casey Flair, both return.

** Junior college transfer Frank "The Tank" Summers, one of the stars of spring practice, will go into fall camp listed as co-No. 1 with junior David Peeples at tailback.

** Sanford said junior Jacob Hales has wrapped up one starting defensive tackle spot with senior Elton Shackelford, redshirt freshman Tim High, senior Faauo Faga and sophomore Malo Taumua battling for the other spot. "We are deeper in the defensive line than we have been for a while," Sanford said.

** Sanford said he expects six linebackers – Beau Bell, Jason Beauchamp, Bradley Niles, Jimmy Miller, KC Asiodu and Star Fuimaono – to all play a lot next season but wouldn't name his starters although he did say "Starr is a very, very strong candidate to start at Rebel (strong outside linebacker)." And depending on the down and distance, Bell might even line up a little at middle linebacker.

** Tony Cade and Daryl Forte are the expected starters at safety but the competition for the two starting corner spots will carry over until the fall.

** Sanford said the Rebels will stick with a 4-3 base defense after switching between a 4-3 and 3-3-5 last season. "I feel we tried to do too many things last year," Sanford said pointing out that linemen are used completely different techniques in a four or three-man front.

** The Rebels will once again spend part of fall camp in Ely. UNLV will practice there from Aug. 10-21.


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