Tony Sanchez had just finished doing his final one-on-one interview Wednesday afternoon following a press conference in the Board Room in the Thomas & Mack Center to introduce his first recruiting class at UNLV.
“Time to take the tie off,” Sanchez smiled.
After what might best be described as a whirlwind three weeks of recruiting catch-up, Sanchez was tired but happy after introducing a 22-man class that was rated in the middle of the Mountain West Conference by most recruiting sites and included local stars Melvin Johnson of Canyon Springs, Justin Polu of Silverado and former Bishop Gorman star Zack Singer, who transferred back home after playing his freshman year at Kent State.
(Check out Barry Wong’s VIDEO on locals staying home)
“You’ve just got to know that there are going to be some 18-hour days,” Sanchez said. “From the time our season ended until now I took Christmas Day off and I took New Year’s Day off. You’ve just gotta go.”
So what were the biggest obstacles besides lack of time on the recruiting front?
“The big part was Vegas,” Sanchez said. “Is my kid going to be okay in Vegas? How often do they go to The Strip? You get those questions. So the biggest thing was you gotta come up here. We told everyone if you want to come up here and we’re going to offer you, you need your parents to come up here on the trip. And the overwhelming majority did. I think 18 of the 22 their parents actually made the trip up, which is huge. Because once you get here as a mom and dad, you meet my wife and kids, you meet our other coaches’ wife’s and kids, you see were fully functional families who are doing great, and you get to see the whole town. I don’t know if there is a better city to live in.”
Sanchez praised recruiting coordinator Jimmy Morimoto, who was retained from Bobby Hauck’s staff and finished his eighth year helping organize recruiting for Rebel football.
“He’s been an all-star,” Sanchez said.
“I’ve been here eight years,” Morimoto, originally hired by Mike Sanford, said. “It’s something new that Tony brings to the table. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting. It’s been a busy time.”
Emphasis on busy. Morimoto, who needed to be in around 4:30 a.m. to prepare for the first batch of letters of intent to be faxed in, spent Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning sleeping on a couch in his office after finishing up work after midnight.
“This morning when I saw Coach Sanchez I said, ‘If if was easy it wouldn’t be fun,’” Morimoto said. “We’ve put together a really good class in a little over two weeks.”
— Coach Tony Sanchez (@UNLVSanchez) February 4, 2015
The class includes 17 high school players, four junior college transfers and Singer, who had four tackles as a true freshman in a game at eventual national champion Ohio State.
Besides landing three talented local products, some of the recruiting highlights included:
* CB Darius Mouton (5-10, 170) of Houston North Shore High, the same school that produced former Rebel stars Devante Davis and Tim Cornett. The two-time first team all-district selection had multiple offers from Pac-12 and Mountain West schools.
* RB Xzaviar Campbell (5-11, 220) from Bellaire, Texas. Expected to be an impact player as a freshman.
* DE Salanoa-Alo Wily (6-0, 290) and S/OLB Soli Afalava (6-2, 200) from Kahuku High School on the North Shore of Oahu. Both received strong attention from Pac-12 schools and Wily’s highlight video displayed earlier here on MyLVsports.com had many Rebel fans buzzing.
* CB Jay’Onn Myles (5-8, 175) of Pierce College in Los Angeles via Palmdale High School. Was a consensus 3-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports.
“We identified guys that we liked and we didn’t care who was recruiting them,” Sanchez said. “We had 30 names on each side of the board and said, ‘Who can we win a Mountain West championship with?’ At the end of the day we got guys who were all above the line. … Now we’ve got to go win a game.”
Next up is spring practice which is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 16 and conclude on Friday, April 17, with a spring game.
First, Sanchez will do something he hasn’t done in a long time.
“I told my wife I’m going to take Saturday off,” he said.
Here’s the list of UNLV’s signings:
Soli Afalava, DB/LB, 6-2, 200, Hau’ula, Hi.; Evan Austrie, DB,6-0, 180, Vallejo, Ca.; Xzaviar Campbell, RB, 5-11, 220, Bellaire, Tx.; Jericho Flowers, DB, 5-10, 170, Los Angeles, Ca.; Nathan Jacobson, OL, 6-5, 270, Snohomish, Wa.; Melvin Johnson, DL, 6-4, 250, Las Vegas Canyon Springs HS; Bailey Laolagi, LB, 6-1, 215, Folsom, Ca.; Gabe McCoy, DL, 6-2, 210, Pittsburg, Ca.; Darius Mouton, CB, 5-10, 170, Houston, Tx.; Alex Neale, OL, 6-3, 290, Duvall, Wa.; Justin Polu, OL, 6-4, 310, Henderson Silverado HS; Brandon Presley, WR, 6-0, 175, Temecula, Ca.; Dalton Sneed, QB, 6-0, 180, Scottsdale, Az.; Lexington Thomas, RB, 5-9, 170, Houston, Tx.; Javin White, DB, 6-3, 180, Oakland, Ca.; Salanoa-Alo Wily, DL, 6-0, 290, Laie, Hi.; Darren Woods Jr., WR, 6-0, 210, Missouri City, Tx.
Jay’Onn Myles, DB, 5-8, 175, LA Pierce College; Mark Finau, DL, 6-3, 230, LA Valley College; Will Kreitler, OL, 6-0, 290, Scottsdale (Az.) CC; Kurt Palandech, QB, 6-1, 190, Laney (Ca.) College.
Zack Singer, DL/OL, 6-3, 300, Bishop Gorman (Kent State).