For the second straight year, UNLV has brought in a recruiting class that ranks near the top of the Mountain West.
The Rebels picked up 19 players Wednesday, the most it has signed in the early signing period. It is a class that ranks second in the conference by 247Sports.com and 68th nationally. Rivals.com has the Rebels fourth in the conference and 70th in the nation.
“We had an awesome morning,” UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo said. “We got started early, and the coaches did a heck of a job putting together a really good class.”
All but two of the Rebels’ 19 signees come from the high school ranks, with one junior college transfer and a graduate transfer completing the class.
The class includes the highest-rated offensive lineman, defensive lineman and defensive back signed by UNLV since the recruiting star system was introduced decades ago. More additions are expected in the regular signing period, which begins Feb. 3.
Among the class are six defensive backs, three offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two linebackers, two wide receivers, two tight ends, a running back and a quarterback. The class includes nine players from California, six from Texas, two from Hawaii and one each from Nevada and Tennessee.
Their highest-rated recruit, defensive end Nick Dimitris from Sierra Vista High School in Baldwin Park, California, briefly decommitted in late November before recommitting earlier this month and signing Wednesday.
Arroyo said Dimitris was going through something in his life “that made him pause in a lot of things.”
“We talked long before he decommitted, and I said this has to be a two-way street,” Arroyo said. “There are going to be demands asked of you at this level that you have to trust I’m going to ask you in the right ways, and I’ve got to trust you’re going to give it back. If we’re not on the same page, then I think it’s only smart for guys to step away and catch their breath.”
Opportunity for Friel at QB
UNLV used four quarterbacks this season, with none were able to seize the job. That could mean an opportunity for signee Cameron Friel, a 6-foot-4-inch, 235-point signal-caller from Kailua High School in Hawaii, to compete for the starting job after enrolling in January.
“We’ve had multiple freshmen in my past that have had a chance to compete and adjust quickly,” Arroyo said. “I don’t know why (Cameron couldn’t). We don’t have an heir apparent. We have no three-year starter.”
The Rebels were young in the secondary this season, and that will likely continue next year as that was an area that was heavily targeted.
“The roster attrition has been bad there,” Arroyo said. “We’ve got a lot of holes to fill in a lot of positions, but that one is significant.”
Arroyo said it was important that UNLV add “some length and versatility at DB with some coverage skills and the ability to play on both sides with high I.Q.”
The defensive backs the Rebels signed have those traits, Arroyo said.
One from the valley
Legacy wide receiver Aaron Holloway is the first player from the valley UNLV has kept home in Arroyo’s first two recruiting classes. Holloway caught 65 passes for a valley-best 1,462 yards and scored 14 touchdowns last season for Legacy High.
“Couldn’t be more fired up. I think he’s one of the most explosive guys not only in Nevada or on the West Coast but the country,” Arroyo said. “He’s got the numbers, but then they have to show it on the film because there are some guys who run fast and jump high that don’t play fast. Aaron does both and can do it at a high speed in and out of cuts.”
The Rebels hope to continue to address the offensive and defensive lines before February’s signing day, but Arroyo said they won’t “take just to take.”
One offensive lineman UNLV signed is Anthony Rosas from Sierra Vista High School in Baldwin Park, California, who was in some ways the leader of this class.
“Anthony was awesome,” Arroyo said of his role in persuading others to sign with the Rebels. “He was the guy who carried the flag for us.”
Defensive back Mychal Victor is a sophomore from Ventura College who is expected to enroll in January, and linebacker Kylan Wilborn is a graduate transfer who started 26 games Arizona. Wilborn was a freshman All-American in 2017, when he had seven of his nine career sacks.
Early signing day
NAME ;POS; HT ; WT ; CL-EXP ; HOMETOWN ; PREVIOUS SCHOOL ;
Anton Ambuehl ; OL ; 6-6 ; 275 ; FR-HS ; Santa Monica, CA ; Calabasas HS;
Johnathan Baldwin ; DB ; 6-0 ; 185 ; FR-HS ; Houston, TX ; Frank Dobie HS;
Kamren Blanton ; DB ; 5-11 ; 175 ; FR-HS ; Long Beach, CA ; St. John Bosco HS;
Nick Dimitris ; DL ; 6-4 ; 235 ; FR-HS ; Watts, CA ; Sierra Vista HS;
Cameron Friel* ; QB ; 6-4 ; 205 ; FR-HS ; Kaneohe, HI ; Kailua HS;
Shaun Grayson ; TE ; 6-4 ; 225 ; FR-HS ; La Mirada, CA ; La Mirada HS;
Sammy Green ; RB ; 5-8 ; 170 ; FR-HS ; Huntington Beach, CA ; Huntington Beach HS;
Aaron Holloway ; WR ; 5-11 ; 180 ; FR-HS ; N. Las Vegas, NV ; Legacy HS;
Kevon Ivy ; DL ; 6-4 ; 250 ; FR-HS ; Dallas, TX ; Duncanville HS;
Graham Keating ; OL ; 6-5 ; 275 ; FR-HS ; Murfreesboro, TN ; Oakland HS;
Jaylen Lane ; DB ; 6-0 ; 180 ; FR-HS ; Pearland, TX ; Shadow Creek HS;
Brye Lighon ; TE ; 6-3 ; 220 ; FR-HS ; Murrieta, CA ; Linfield Christian School;
Marsel McDuffie ; LB ; 6-1 ; 220 ; FR-HS ; Grand Prairie, TX ; South Grand Prairie HS;
Kiliniahe Mendiola-Jensen DB ; 6-2 ; 160 ; FR-HS ; Pearl City, HI ; Punahou HS
Deamikkio Nathan ; WR ; 6-0 ; 185 ; FR-HS ; Grand Prairie, TX ; South Grand Prairie HS;
Cameron Oliver ; DB ; 6-1 ; 160 ; FR-HS ; Richmond, TX ; William B. Travis HS;
Anthony Rosas ; OL ; 6-3 ; 295 ; FR-HS ; Baldwin Park, CA ; Sierra Vista HS;
Mychal Victor* ; DB ; 6-3 ; 190 ; SO-TR ; Pomona, CA ; Ventura College;
Kylan Wilborn# ; LB ; 6-2 ; 240 ; SR-TR ; Northridge, CA ; Arizona;
*Expected to enroll at UNLV in January #Transfer from a four-year school