Following a monster junior season that saw him pass for 3,455 yards and 34 touchdowns, Green Valley quarterback Christian Lopez was on the recruiting radar of schools like Arizona.
“They were going to offer and then they found out I was only 5-foot-11,” Lopez, who now stands just a tad under 6-foot, said. “Northern Arizona was recruiting me but backed off when they got another quarterback commitment.”
Lopez, arguably the best quarterback not named Tate Martell to come out of Las Vegas in the last couple of years, leads an impressive group of six local walk-ons practicing for first-year head coach Tony Sanchez.
“I had a couple of junior colleges and Division II schools I could have gone to,” said Lopez, who threw for 7,915 yards and 65 touchdowns and also rushed for 1,142 yards and 34 more TDs during his career with the Gators. “But with the new coaches here … I know it’s going to turn around. It’s a great opportunity.”
UNLV has only four quarterbacks on scholarship led by senior starter Blake Decker. The plan is for Lopez to redshirt this season while learning the system under highly-regarded Rebel quarterback coach Ron O’Dell.
“He’ll do a great job in film study and working with Coach O’Dell,” Sanchez said. “A year from now I really think he’ll be a polished player for us.”
For those who haven’t seen Lopez in action, check out these highlights compiled by Barry Wong from his junior year against Palo Verde. (STORY CONTINUES BELOW)
“It’s definitely an adjustment from the offense we ran at Green Valley,” Lopez said. “It’s going to take a while but I like it. In high school I never really had a quarterback coach. Coming out here with Coach O’Dell every day is really awesome.”
Other locals who decided to walk-on with Lopez include Travis French (6-5, 300), the starting center on Bishop Gorman’s national championship team, Arbor View offensive lineman Blake Coggins (6-5, 260), Sierra Vista wide receiver Andrew Peterson (5-10, 175), Durango defensive lineman Ammir Aziz (6-6, 310) and Mountain View Christian defensive lineman Jerrod Wallace (6-4, 270).
UNLV’s roster also includes seven other local walk-ons, including senior punter Logan Yunker (Arbor View) and senior offensive lineman Eric Noone (Silverado), who eventually earned scholarships.
“We’re going to recruit locally and we’d love the majority of our walk-ons to be locals,” Sanchez said. “The more locals we get on the roster the better.”