The Rebels will likely be without their best receiving option for the fourth straight game Saturday. 6-3 215 Devante Davis (Scout 3*) was poised to have a monster senior season and he has now been relegated to watching from the bench with a hand injury that has required surgery. Prior to 2014, Davis had been selected as an All-American, Biletnikoff Award and Mountain West Player of the Year candidate for 2014. One of 77 players named to the 2014 watch list for the Maxwell Award. Unanimous Preseason First Team All-Mountain West selection. Named to the 2013 All-Mountain West Second Team. Davis also shattered the school record for touchdown receptions in a season with 14 in 2013. Prior to his injury in the fourth game of the season Davis had already snagged 17 passes for 268 yards and 2 TDs.
Stepping up in the absence of Davis has been 6-1 175 true freshman Devonte Boyd (Scout 2*). In 2012 Boyd caught 66 passes for 1,081 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior at local basic high school. Boyd was also a three-year letterwinner. boyd originally signed with UNLV in february of 2013 and greyshirted the 2013 season. Since officially joining the rebels for the 2014 season Boyd has played in all 7 games so far hauling in 27 receptions for 434 yards, both tops on the unlv squad and 1 td. The backup to Boyd is Maika Mataele (scout nr). the 5-11 180 senior was recently awarded an extra season of eligibility enabling him to compete for unlv in 2014. Mataele started 8 of 13 games in 2013 snatching 36 passes for 411 yards and 3 tds. in 2014 the former walk-on has started 2 of 7 games thus far pulling in 13 receptions and 183 yards.
The starter at the opposite wr spot is former aggie recruit Marcus Sullivan (scout 2*). now a 5-9 195 senior, Sullivan was originally recruited as a rb by the rebels. Sullivan earned a 2013 all-mountain west honorable mention after a successful 2013 season which saw him snare 41 passes for 469 yards and 5 tds as well as return 18 kicks for another 509 yards. Sullivan enjoyed his best season as a sophomore in 2012 when he hauled in 55 passes for 659 yards and 4 tds. now in his final season in 2014 sullivan has appeared in 6 games while snagging 12 passes for 112 yards and 1 td, while also recording 6 carries for 25 yards. Backing up Sullivan is 5-11 190 junior Anthony Williams (scout 2*). Williams played in 12 games for the rebels in 2013 starting 6 of them while grabbing 21 passes for 188 yards and 1 td. In 2014 Williams has started 4 of 7 games while catching 10 passes for 121 yards and 1 td.
True freshman Kendal Keys (scout 3*) has started to make a splash for the Rebels as well in 2014. Keys had originally signed with Boise State in 2013 but changed his mind and wanted to play with his older brother Kenny who is a rebel defensive back. At 6-3 200 keys has already hauled in a currently third on the team 14 passes for an also third on the team 187 yards and 1 td.
6-7 315 Brett Boyko (scout nr) leads a very experienced Rebel offensive line as one of two senior starters. Boyko has been an absolute stalwart at LT in his four seasons in Las Vegas as he has started all 32 games that he has appeared in up to the 2014 season. Boyko was also named a consensus preseason first team all-mw selection. Boyko was also named to the 2013 all-mountain west second team, and is a member of the lombardi watch list. In 2014 Boyko has started all 7 of the rebels games thus far. Charged with the near impossible task of backing up Boyko is 6-5 310 sophomore Patrick Carroll (scout 2*). Carroll originally greyshirted the 2011 season for the rebels and then took a redshirt season as well in 2012. Carroll did not see any action in 2013 but now that Carroll has moved into the rebels two deep depth chart he has appeared in all 7 games so far in 2014.
6-7 295 Andrew Oberg (scout 2*) is one of three junior starters on the unlv offensive line. Oberg started all 13 games at right tackle in 2013 and gained valuable playing time by playing in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2012. Oberg has continued his run in 2014 having started all 7 games leading up to saturday's game at Utah State. Redshirt freshman Alex Saxelid (scout 2*) has earned the right to backup oberg. at 6-7 270, saxelid was two-time letterwinner at consumnes oaks high school in elk grove, ca during his prep career. Now in 2014 Saxelid has seen action in all 7 of the rebels games on the season.
6-2 300 sophomore Eric Noone (scout nr*) is slated for his first start of the season. Noone was initially a walk-on from local Silverado high school where he was a first-team all-state selection as a senior and second-team all-state pick as a junior. Noone played primarily on special teams in 2013 as a sophomore. Now in 2014 Noone has appeared in all 7 of the Rebels games thus far. 6-5 300 senior Brian Roth (Scout 2*) is a very experienced backup. Roth is a versatile offensive lineman that has played multiple positions and has played in 35 games for the Rebels. Roth has appeared in all 7 games for the Rebels in 2014.
The third and final junior starter for UNLV is 6-4 295 Nick Gstrein (Scout 2*). Gstrein originally started at UNLV as a tight end, but moved to the offensive line before the 2013 season where he saw action in 5 games starting 4 of them. Now a full time offensive lineman Gstrein has started all 7 games in 2014 leading up to Saturday's matchup with Utah State. Also backing up Gstrein is 6-5 300 senior Brian Roth (Scout 2*) is a very experienced backup. Roth is a versatile offensive lineman that has played multiple positions and has played in 35 games for the Rebels. Roth has appeared in all 7 games for the Rebels in 2014.
The second and final senior starter on the Vegas offensive line is 6-2 290 Robert Waterman (Scout 2*). Originally greyshirting the 2009 season, Waterman started as a true freshman in the Rebels first game of the 2011 season and has been a mainstay at center for the Rebels ever since. Waterman entered the season tied for sixth in the nation with 38 consecutive starts and was seventh in total plays by an OL with 2,679. Waterman has made 44 consecutive starts at center for UNLV and has started every game of his Rebel career. Waterman is a three-time All-Mountain West honorable mention. Waterman as expected has started all 7 of the Rebels games in 2014 as well. 6-4 270 redshirt freshman J'ondray Sanders (Scout 2*) is hoping to fill the impeccable shoes of Waterman some day. Sanders comes to UNLV out of local Basic high school, where he was a two-year letterwinner. After redshirting the 2013 season Sanders now finds himself amid the Rebels two deep depth chart. Sanders has appeared in 6 of the Rebels 7 games in 2014.
6-6 255 junior Jake Phillips (Scout 2*) gets the nod at TE. Phillips has consistently been in the lineup for the Rebels his entire career, starting 13 of 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Originally recruited as a DE, it was in 2012 that Phillips enjoyed the best statistical season of his career thus far pulling in 23 passes for 232 yards and 1 TD. Since then Phillips productivity has declined as the Rebels have begun to employ a more spread option offensive approach. In 2014 Phillips has appeared in all 7 games up to this point recording a meager 2 receptions for 30 yards. Backing up Phillips is 6-6 250 sophomore Andrew Price (Scout 2*). Price appeared in 11 games for the Rebels in 2013 as a redshirt freshman, being credited with 3 receptions for 27 yards. Although the UNLV coaching staff really likes the potential of the very athletic Price, it has yet to translate to playing time on the field in 2014 as Price has played in 6 of the Rebels 7 games but he has only managed 1 reception for 14 yards.
6-4 240 senior Taylor Barnhill (Scout 2*) has been a part time starter over the past two seasons as he has started 13 of 25 games totaling 35 receptions for 237 yards and 4 TDs. Originally recruited as a QB, Barnhill has played in all 7 games starting 5 of them while recording 12 catches for 154 yards. 6-4 230 senior Andrew Casey (Scout NR) is the backup FB/H-Back. Casey came to Las Vegas by way of the College of the Desert, CA, where following his career there he walked on to the Rebels squad. Casey played sparingly in 2013 only appearing in 1 game. In 2014 Casey appeared in the first 3 games of the season recording no stats and hasn't played since.
5-9 185 sophomore stud Keith Whitely (Scout 3*) is the main man in the Rebel backfield. As a true freshman in 2013 Whitely appeared in 13 games but only recorded 10 carries for 56 yards. Now in 2014 as the #1 guy Whitely has quietly put together a decent season starting in 4 of the 7 games that he has played in and carrying the ball 79 times for 386 yards and 1 TD. Whitely also has 13 receptions for 109 yards. JUCO transfer George Naufahu (Scout NR) has established himself as the #2 guy in the UNLV backfield. Naufahu a 6-0 215 junior, had a solid 2013 season leading the College of San Mateo with 1,183 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore. As the backup RB for the Rebels in 2014 Naufahu has 52 rushes for 210 yards and 1 TD, while also adding 3 receptions for 5 yards.
6-2 205 JUCO transfer Blake Decker (Scout 2*) stepped in during spring ball and won the job over returning part time starter Nick Sherry. Decker comes to Las Vegas from Scottsdale CC, where in 2013 as a sophomore he led the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference with 269 completions in 456 attempts for 4,241 yards and 47 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. His numbers for touchdowns and passing yards per game led the entire National Junior College Athletic Association. Decker also rushed for 390 yards and 4 TDs. Decker was also named the Offensive Player of the Year for both the ACCAC and Western States Football League. Now as the Rebels starter in 2014 Decker has started all 7 games thus far, completing 122 passes in 210 attempts for 6 TDs and 10 interceptions. Decker has also carried the ball 86 times for 240 yards and 3 more TDs. Decker's backup is one time starter 6-5 235 junior Nick Sherry (Scout 2*). Sherry started 12 of 13 games in 2012 as a redshirt freshman for the Rebels completing 226 passes in 426 attempts for 2,544 yards with 16 TDs and 17 interceptions. Sherry had his role in the offense drastically reduced in 2013 as he started the first three games of the season only to see action in just 2 more games the remainder of the season. Now as a junior in 2014 Sherry has seen action in 4 of 7 games completing 9 passes in 29 attempts with 2 interceptions, while also rushing 4 times for -4 yards on the year.
5-7 185 walk-on redshirt freshman Jay Mitchell (Scout NR) is the top punt returner for the Rebels. Coming out of local Liberty high school, Mitchell was a versatile weapon who played WR, DB, KR and PR for the Patriots and was named a first team all-state defensive back as a senior after making 49 tackles and grabbing a school-record 9 interceptions. Now in 2014, Mitchell leads the Rebels with 4 punt returns for 54 yards, good enough for a 13.5 yard per return average. Mitchell's backup is starting RB Keith Whitely who has not had nearly the success that Mitchell has had. Whitely has fielded 3 punts for a total return yardage of -1 yard, which equals out to a measly -0.3 yards per return.
Ultra dangerous Marcus Sullivan is the man standing at the goal line when it comes time for the Rebels special teams. Sullivan has been returning kicks since his freshman season back in 2010 when he took back 35 kicks for 976 yards good for a 27.9 yard per return average. After sitting out 2011 with an injury Sullivan returned to kick return duties as a sophomore in 2012 fielding 22 kicks for 517 yards and a 23.5 yard per return average. As a junior in 2013 Sullivan had his best season average wise as he recorded a 28.3 yards per return average after running back 18 kicks for 509 yards. Finally as a senior in 2014 Sullivan is wrapping up his career and he has already fielded 12 kicks for 291 yards for a 24.3 yard per return average. Starting RB Keith Whitely is also in the hunt for kick return duty. As a true freshman in 2013 Whitely was primarily used as a kick returner fielding 18 kicks for 407 yards, good for a 22.6 yard per return average. Now in 2014 in a very reduced special teams role, Whitely has hauled in 6 kicks for 140 yards for an average of 22.3 yards per return. Finally in a surprising turn of events walk-on redshirt freshman Jay Mitchell has also made his case for playing time as he has turned some heads pulling down 6 returns for 101 yards, which is good for a 16.8 yards per return average.
Brian Phillips - Football Insider for UstateAggies.com