UNLV's Surest Catch: Casey Flair|
Oct. 20, 2008
While senior wide receiver Casey Flair begins writing the final chapter about his amazing five-year career at UNLV, it’s a story about the native of Anchorage, Alaska, that nearly never happened.
Flair developed his love for football at a young age, playing catch with his friends even when the temperature would dip below freezing, which was a common occurrence in the far north. He turned in a strong prep career, capping it by hauling in 59 catches for 1,237 yards and 20 touchdowns for East High School, helping the T-Birds to the 2003 state championship. He played in the prestigious Army All-American game in 2004 and was a two-time all-state selection, but Flair still didn’t draw any attention from Division-I schools.
Fortunately for Flair and the Rebels, his high school receiver coach, Curt Nading, played at Utah State under Bruce Snyder, who was UNLV’s offensive coordinator in 2004. Neading called Snyder and asked him to give Flair an opportunity to simply walk-on to the team, which Snyder and then-head coach John Robinson agreed to provide.
“I got the opportunity to play and I ran with it,” Flair said. “I am truly blessed because the coaches have been great, especially John Robinson and Bruce Snyder for giving me a chance, and then coach (Mike) Sanford and coach (Kris) Cinkovich for working with me and keeping me on scholarship.”
Despite going through the adjustments of being more than 3,000 miles from home, living in a completely different environment and basically not knowing anyone, Flair excelled on the practice field. While he will never be confused with a world-class sprinter and admits his route running needed work when he first got to UNLV, Flair does possess two of the surest hands a receiver could ask for. During his first fall on campus, he caught everything thrown his direction while working out with the scout team, and displayed a work ethic that was second-to-none. Robinson gave Flair a scholarship near the end of his freshman season, a gratifying moment for the walk-on.
“That first year was really tough, and I went through the same things most freshmen do during their first year,” he said. “It was a little intimidating at first, but I worked hard every day and treated every practice as if it was game day.”
The following year as a redshirt freshman Flair was in the starting lineup in Sanford’s shotgun spread offense and the results have been nothing short of remarkable.
Since then, a span of 42 games and counting, Flair has caught at least one pass in every game, which set UNLV record held by Earvin Johnson, who was finishing his career as Flair was starting his. Flair is currently second all-time in the Rebel record books with 184 career receptions and needs just four catches over his final five games to pass Damon Williams as the program’s career catch king.
“When I first came here, I didn’t even know if I would get to play,” Flair said. “I am just thankful that I was given the chance, which is all I wanted coming out of high school.”
While he will go down in Rebel lore as one of the school’s most consistent pass catchers, what Flair really wants is to be associated with the change of perception about UNLV football. For the first time in his five seasons with the team, the Rebels broke the two-win barrier and sit at 3-4 after a close loss at home against Air Force, 29-28. Three home games remain on the schedule, and a bowl bid is within reach for him and his teammates, which is the only ending Flair is focused on right now.
“Records are nice, but they are made to be broken,” he said. “When I leave here, I want to say that I went to a bowl game. That can’t be taken away. The team is focused on these final six games and our job is to get bowl eligible.”
Getting To Know Casey Flair
Better vice president pick, Sarah Palin or Tina Fey? Palin.
Can you see Russia from your house? No
Favorite stadium other than Sam Boyd? Camp Randall in Madison, Wisc.
What is your favorite Las Vegas show? KÀ
What is your favorite pregame meal? Chicken, meatballs and pasta
Who is better, Terrell Owens or Randy Moss? Terrell Owens
Which is more intense, winter in Alaska or summer in Las Vegas? Winter in Alaska
Favorite actress: Eva Mendes