Long Day Of Training
Aug. 15, 2009
CAMP REBEL - UNLV football staged a jumbo-sized, mostly situational scrimmage on Saturday and it was the Rebel defense that continued to impress during this preseason camp.
The red-uniformed side of the ball picked off starting quarterback Omar Clayton (Normal, IL/Normal Community HS) twice, posted three sacks and forced and recovered a fumble vs. the white shirts.
Despite his interceptions, Clayton showed his usual sharpness, completing 6-9 pass attempts for 60 yards and three touchdowns -- one to Jerriman Robinson (Rialto, CA/Rialto HS/Texas Southern) and a pair to red-zone machine Phillip Payne (Las Vegas, NV/Western HS). Senior All-America candidate Ryan Wolfe (Santa Clarita, CA/Hart HS) played just the first two series before taking the rest of the day off.
With C.J. Cox (Garland, TX/North Garland HS) sitting out with an injury, junior Channing Trotter (Mesa, AZ/Red Mountain HS) turned in the best day among the backs, rushing five times for a game-high 33 mostly-tough yards to go with a short rushing score. Those two are among the leading candidates to replace now-Pittsburgh Steeler Frank "The Tank" Summers as the school's featured back this fall.
Alex De Giacomo (Westminster, CA/Westminster HS/El Camino College) continued his ball-hawking ways at safety and got one of the two Clayton picks, with senior Ryan Tillman (Rialto, CA/Rialto HS) hauling in the other. The day's other interception came when the third-teamers were going head to head and newbie Cedric Coleman (Keller, TX/Fossil Ridge HS) brought in an attempt from freshman Caleb Herring (Moreno Valley, CA/Citrus Hill HS).
Linebacker Ronnie Paulo (Las Vegas, NV/Western HS) had perhaps the best overall day, getting a sack, another tackle for loss and recovering a fumble for the starting defense.
"We got a lot done and it was a good day overall," said Head Coach Mike Sanford. "It's always good news--bad news when your defense is forcing so many turnovers but we knew coming in, that was one of our biggest goals for 2009. I think offensively, Channing Trotter had a good performance and on defense, the entire No. 1 group was impressive, especially our pass rush. The biggest thing today was that we came out healthy, which we need to conitnue."
Things did not go as smoothly on special teams, however. Senior Kyle Watson (Rancho Cucamonga, CA/Rancho Cucamonga HS/Texas Southern) did hit all three of his field goal attempts but it was the Rebel punters (Watson, Brendan Lamers and Daniel Ayers) who were most disappointing to the head coach on Saturday.
"That group did not perform as well today as they have been in camp," Sanford said. "Our punting situation is an on-going concern."
TO THE DARK SIDE: Having the honor of wearing the Black Jersey at Saturday's scrimmage was safety Alex De Giacomo on defense and tackle Matt Murphy on offense. The list of other nominees had a definite historical sound to it -- Lee, Grant and Payne. That is: Terrance Lee (New Britain, CT/Arizona Western HS) and Mike Grant (Fresno, CA/Laguna Creek HS/Sierra College) on defense and receiver Phillip Payne on offense.
MEDIA ON HAND Covering Saturday's action were media representatives from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Sun and Rebel Nation, along with KLAS-TV (CBS). Also on hand was a 702.tv sports reporter in preparation for a special half-hour preview of the Rebel football team. The season premiere of the program "All In" will be all-UNLV when it airs August 27 at 10:30 p.m. on VEGAS TV (Cox Cable channel 14).
Other guests taking in the scrimmage were two scouts from the New England Patriots, as well as former record-setting UNLV receiver Casey Flair, who is the newest member of the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives.
BARRETT ON THE MOVE: It's been quite a weekend for highly touted UNLV recruit Jordan Barrett (Oak Park, CA/Notre Dame HS). Ranked by some experts as one of the top signees in the entire Mountain West Conference this year, Barrett got the call to camp a few days ago. He headed to Las Vegas on Friday and then right to his new team's off-campus site. Now, the heavily honored linebacker is on the move again -- across the line of scrimmage.
"We let Jordan know that his best chance to play this season would be at tight end and on special teams and he was was on board with (the move)," Sanford said. "Even though he got here late, he has so much ability that he can help us immediately. Where he ends up playing after this season depends on a lot of things."
Barrett met with reporters for the first time after the scrimmage and said he was happy to help.
"I'm excited to come in and do whatever I can to help this football team. I played both linebacker and tight end in high school so it won't be a big change for me."
S.I. PRAISE: Sports Illustrated's just-released college football preview issue gives the Rebels some national love. Coach Sanford's team is predicted to go 8-4 overall and finish fourth in the Mountain West in 2009.
SCHEDULE: The team will enjoy a night away from the field on Saturday as well as getting Sunday morning to rest up. The next practice is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:30-5:05 p.m.
KICKING Kyle Watson 3-3 (21, 32, 37)