PHOTOS/VIDEO/STATS: Sun-Drenched Showcase Caps Spring Ball|
April 1, 2017
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV football team wrapped up its third spring practice under head coach Tony Sanchez by staging its annual Spring Showcase in front of a crowd of 3,000 fans under a blue-skied World Famous Las Vegas Strip serving as a background Saturday.
For the fourth straight year, the team moved across campus from the Rebel Park practice fields to the school's soccer stadium -- Peter Johann Memorial Field -- and turned in a controlled scrimmage on a gorgeous afternoon.
Many in attendance were there to get a first look at redshirt freshman quarterback Armani Rogers, who took the ball first during the 80-minute event. Rogers overcame some early jitters to finish a solid 8 of 14 passing for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Rogers admitted that he was pressing early on.
"Then, in second half I just went out and played football," he said before joining his teammates in snapping photos and signing autographs for fans.
The Rebels' defense, especially up front, dominated early on Saturday.
Charles Williams, who shattered the UNLV freshman record with 763 rushing yards in 2016, had the only score of the first half, taking it in from three yards out to contribute to his 52 total yards on six carries.
After the break, redshirt JC transfer big back Evan Owens bolted through the stingy line for a 58-yard touchdown. Senior signal-caller Kurt Palandech soon hooked up with sophomore Elijah Trosclair for a 31-yard touchdown. Rogers, who also ran for 22 yards, tossed a pair of scores -- 33 yards to Allan Cui and then 31 yards to Brandon Presley, who sizzled all spring as part of what is arguably the deepest position group in program history. The redshirt sophomore, who suffered a season-ending injury in week one last fall, led all receivers with 95 yards on three grabs on a day that senior record-breaker Devonte Boyd did not play while still getting to 100 percent health.
Last year's game one starter behind center, senior Johnny Stanton, was 6 of 10 for 29 yards. Xzaviar Campbell earned the most carries among the backs, going eight times for 52 yards. Senior linebacker Brian Keyes was one of five Rebels with four tackles, adding one TFL and a pass breakup.
Sanchez addressed the spring efforts during a media conference later in the day.
"I thought we saw some really good things on both sides of the ball, definite improvement," Sanchez said. "We are deeper in a lot of areas, especially in the quarterback spot. I thought we had three guys who did some quality things. The backfield continues to be a deep group. It sure is nice having the receivers back. Had (Devonte) Boyd out today but he had a really good spring along with the rest of the group.
"And then defensively the D-tackle spot is as probably as deep as it's been since we've been here. We are a lot faster overall at the linebacker spot, still not real deep but much faster. And I thought Coach (David) Lockwood did a really good job with the corners. We kept Robert Jackson out of the game today, no reason to get him in there, and I thought overall they did a really good job. And then special teams, (punter/kicker) Evan Pantels did a fantastic job. I thought we progressed appropriately for what our goals were."
UNLV will hold its next practice in early August and open the 50th Season of Rebel Football by hosting Howard on Saturday, Sept. 2 in the first of six home games. Season tickets are available now by calling (702) 739-FANS or visiting unlvtickets.com.