Before we look at this year's crop of talent and where they are looking to play football at, lets take a look at the recent past classes.
Bishop Gorman had 2 recruits that were ranked 5 star by Scout in 2006 and 2005 classes. Oklahoma grabbed both of them Demarco Murray and Ryan Reynolds. Oklahoma also grabbed Cheyenne's Quinton Carter in 2006 as well and he plays major minutes for the Sooners.
2006 also featured players that went to other big name schools and others who are producing right now. Jashaad Gaines - LV - Notre Dame, Mike Smith - Palo - Nebraska, Jerry Siewierski - Reed - UCLA, Derek Kosub - Hug - Washington, Martrell Fantoy - Gorman - SDSU, Alex Toney - Shadow Ridge - Wyoming, Ronnie Paulo - Western - UNLV, Geno Odong - Valley - Utah St, Ben Jacobs - Silverado - Fresno St and ranked only as a 1 star - Valley's Stevenson Sylvester who proved everyone that he was more 5 star than 1 star for Utah this past year.
The ranking system is flawed and certainly our Nevada athletes do not get the national love that we all hope and think that they should get. Much of it is do to the past history of high ranking kids not getting offered. This is mostly do to grades, where Southern Nevada kids play their Senior year with core course grades that would not make them eligible to play in college without a 2 year detour to a JC.
The other issue has been the more recent discovery by our local athletes of combines and the importance of going to a college camp during the Summer. In an article published today, TCU's Gary Patterson, Washington's Steve Sarkisian and Nevada's Chris Ault commented about the importance of High School Athletes going to University camps to be coached by their staff during a Summer camp. They recommended kids as early as 9 th graders get to camps during the Summer to get on the radar. This has been the case of our Nevada kids who went off to Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona State camps over the past 3 years. Combines put many of our athletes on the national map as well. But, it was the early offers that took things to another level.
Our 2007 Football Class has not had the major level impact as the 2006 class. DJ Campbell of Cheyenne went to Cal and Billy Winn of Vegas at Boise were two major impact players this past season. The top recruit in the class, Po'u Palelei of Gorman did not qualify at Arizona State.
2008 was a banner year and once again the ranking system of our players was all wrong. Phillip Payne - Western - UNLV played out of his mind this past year as one of the Nation's top Freshmen. He was only considered a close 2 star recruit. Lawrence Guy of Western who went to Arizona State was considered a 4 star and he started for the Devils. Keola Antolin of Gorman started for Arizona as did Preston Davis of Shadow Ridge at Idaho. Juron Criner - Canyon - Arizona, Charles Smith - DP - Idaho, Colin Shumate - LV - SDSU, Chris Jones - Shadow - UNLV, Beau Orth - Gorman - UNLV, Josh Jordan -Gorman -ASU, Corbin Brown - Spring Valley - Air Force, Garrett Sherwood - Faith - Navy, Jeff Nady - Douglas County & Mike Ball -DP - Nevada, George Morales - Mojave - Michigan all were on the recruit list.
2008 has not featured the superstar recruit, but it has a ton of depth. The top of the list is Torin Harris - Nevada Player of the Year from Nevada Sports Network - Palo Verde - heading to USC and Gorman's Justin Chaisson heading to Oklahoma.
Keenan Graham of Silverado is a success story of hard work in the combine process of the Spring. He was wowed by the personal attention of Head Coach Rick Neuheisel of UCLA went he took an unofficial visit to their campus in Spring. That got USC's attention as well as the attention of Virginia Tech, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and the rest of the West Coast. After taking trips to Michigan (un official), Wisconsin, USC, UCLA, Colorado - he had one trip left. The banquet for the All Conference players in January must have been a seen. How many times do you have Coaches from the Number 2 team in the country hanging around to speak to our players? Utah was in the house and wanted to see if Keenan wanted to take a trip to Salt Lake. Sylvester was his host and with the high number of Vegas kids on a team that is poised to be a power for many years it impressed Graham. Plus, he has ties to SLC having spent some years in Junior High up there. So going into this weekend it was UCLA and Utah in the running. UCLA has been doing everything not to loose Graham and Coach Rick has been smooth as usual in his recruitment. We all find out Wednesday if he sets his own mark in LA for the Vegas kids or decides to join the growing pack of Vegas kids at Utah.
If he goes to Utah, he will get to face Northern Nevada's Top Player McQueen's Kyle Van Noy who chose BYU over Arizona State.
If he goes to Utah he would be joined by Cheyenne's big lineman Jeremiah Tofaeno who committed to the Utes over Washington. His visit to Washington was interesting with fog machines and sirens being used as he and his other recruits walked on to the field of Husky Stadium during the visit. Little did he know that Coach Sarkisian would be forced to admit a NCAA voilation for creating this enhanced environment during the visit. (Sarkisian and D Coach Nick Holt were slapped on the hand last week in LA for another minor NCAA recruiting infraction as well)
Lets look at another trend - local ties coming back to Vegas to grab talent. Steve Johns coached at UNLV for 5 years under John Robinson and he did not forget about the local Vegas talent. So after grabbing a Faith Lutheran player last year, they went after another in David Sperry. Derek Eamon of Del Sol is also on the Navy radar and we are awaiting word if this will be his final destination. Sam Womack of Gorman is also headed to Navy as well. This is a major program dont let them being an Academy fool you. I have been at their facilities and frankly they blow many WAC, WAC and PAC 10 facilities away with what they have going on out there in Maryland.
The other major factor was Hawaii. Thanks go to the Silverado connection, as being familiar with our local talent paid off for the Bows (yes I still call them after their real name). Tony Tuioti dominated the scene grabbing Michael Wadsworth and TJ Alofipo from his Silverado squad. He nearly grabbed Palo LB Liloa Nobriga who at the last minute chose Colorado.
UNLV did not do too badly even has they continued to rate Southern California and Arizona 2 star prospects higher than those in their own backyard once again. They so far have Charles Childers of Gorman, Nathan Holloway of Spring Valley, Marcus Sullivan of Cheyenne, John Therrell of Gorman as well as getting very under rated Jon Kirschbaum of Del Sol, Sidney Hodge - PV (Grayshirt) and Green Valley QB Nick Libonati to both walk on.
Karrington Armstong - McQueen - Oregon, Jake Broyles - Foothill - Boise State, Mike Lagrone - McQueen - Idaho continue the string of Nevada players heading into these schools.
Damien Proby of Cheyenne appears to be headed to Northwestern. We are still awaiting word on Cheyenne team mates Khyriece Campbell and Kevontae Clark who has Utah State all over them at the moment.
We are now up to 21 D1 recruits in Nevada. Speaking of which Hug will supply the Wolfpack's only 2 in state recruits this year in Duke Williams and Courtney Gardner.
Looking at the schools who invaded Nevada this year, our Coaching Sources felt that the following schools made the most head way in Nevada this year. Hawaii - just look at the results. Arizona State - may not have grabbed anyone yet they continue to be in the mix for every in state kid. Colorado - Dan Hawkins recruited Nevada well at Boise and did really well this year as well with Nobriga. Oregon coming back is a really good sign. Oregon State was also active, the first time in 4 years without landing someone. I think that UNLV got the clue that local kids can play from how the Las Vegas Junior, Soph and Freshman played this past year. Washington State was in very early and offered rides. Washington came in late with the new staff - but really are committed to the State. Boise grabbed another - their streak continues. Arizona had Wadsworth and then lost him. U of A could not capitalize on their Vegas Bowl game in recruiting however. USC offering 2 rides to local kids - who would have seen this coming? Once again Oklahoma is in our back yard. They must be paying Grad Assistant and former Gorman Coach (hey there is an opening in Vegas at BG) David White well. Utah State with former Utah Coaches taking the reigns got into Vegas really well and should grab a couple from the State. Southern Utah grabbing Osaze Aigbee of Gorman will be good for Vegas kids who want to play D1AA. Yes - Montana and Montana State were active in Vegas again - nothing to report but they could be landing a couple late. Idaho was suprisingly vacant this year, after getting great results from their Vegas kids this past year. Cal - just not active across the board, Stanford also was not around, same with SDSU which normally is active in Southern Nevada.
There should be others on this list. Let the tales of grades be the story once again. Reggie Bullock can play. The Vegas back is real and he could be a corner or RB at many schools. He could not get high enough SAT scores to qualify after his core grades were poor. There are others who wont be named that are in the same boat. Just take a look at Palo Verde's Jarrell Harrison who was a UNLV signee a couple of years ago and did not qualify. His play in the JC ranks was strong and he will be heading to Missouri to look for a starting role for the Tigers this season. He paid his dues and hit the books.
Now is considered the dead period for recruiting as these Nevada kids make one of the biggest decisions of their lives. For those Juniors and Sophomores, you could be thanking this class for bringing this much attention to Nevada football, as many Coaches may have seen you while watching them. We can only hope that for the Stephen Nixon's (Cimarron) we can be talking about big things for him next year to continue this tradition.