The University of Nevada football team signed 15 players to National Letters of Intent on signing day, marking third-year head coach Brian Polian's second full signing class at Nevada.
“This is another exciting signing day for our Wolf Pack football program,” said Polian, who led Nevada to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl last season. “While we have not added the sheer numbers that we have in the previous two years, we are confident that the quality of the young people we are welcoming to our family will help us improve and continue to grow as we pursue a Mountain West championship.”
The Wolf Pack's signing class shows a concerted effort to search far and wide to bring the best talent to Reno, as Nevada signed players from seven states and one Canadian province. Nevada signed five players from California, two from Nevada, Texas and Utah, and one from Illinois, Indiana, Virginia and Canada. Six of the signees had offers from schools from “power-five” conferences.
“For a second straight year, we've reached out to areas outside our normal footprint,” said Polian. “We will always start our recruiting efforts in Northern Nevada, central California and in Utah – we feel like these areas are our local areas. However, with the success of players like James Butler, Kendall Johnson and Matt Moen, we are finding that more prospects from further distances are showing a sincere interest in our program and in our university.”
Nevada signed eight defensive players, six offensive players and one two-way player in local product Wes Farnsworth; one of the most heralded long snappers in the nation, who could also see playing time as a defensive back. The Wolf Pack also signed cornerback Dameon Baber out of Palmdale High School (Calif.). Baber had interest from multiple Pac-12 schools. Cal Kee, who recorded nine interceptions as a senior, and EJ Muhammad, a two-time all-district performer from DeSoto High School, will also help in the defensive backfield.
Polian addressed Nevada's needs at linebacker, signing Riley Brand, Gabe Sewell and Ricky Thomas Jr. Sewell, a three-star linebacker by Scout.com, has two uncles who played in the NFL, while Thomas Jr. is the son of Wolf Pack cornerback coach Ricky Thomas, who is entering his third year with the program.
Nevada also added defensive help on the line, picking up Kori Collons (6-5, 215 pounds) and Hausia Sekona (6-1, 265). Collons received recruiting interest from nearly the entire MW, while Sekona has three relatives that played in the NFL, including the Baltimore Ravens' Haloti Ngata.
The Wolf Pack signed six players on offense, beginning up front with two standout linemen. Gannon Laidlaw (6-5, 270) and Derrick Stom (6-2, 290), both California products, will join the Union this fall. Nevada also added a tight end, renowned for his run-blocking, in Evan Faunce (6-4, 240). Faunce will join the Pack as a sophomore after earning all-conference honors at Glendale (Ariz.) Community College.
Polian and his staff put in the miles looking for aerial threats, pulling receivers from Chicago and Toronto. Dominic Christian was a dual-threat quarterback at Hales Franciscan High in Chicago, combining for 2,940 yards of total offense and 27 touchdowns as a senior. Brendan O'Leary-Orange is a possession receiver standing at 6-foot-4, hailing from Michael Power/St. Joseph High School out of Toronto. The gives Nevada two receivers from Canada on the roster, joining Malcolm Lee, a spring addition in 2014.
The Wolf Pack also signed a quarterback to help carry Nevada's famed tradition at the position, receiving an NLI from Baylor Romney out of El Paso, Texas. A 6-foot-1 dual-threat quarterback, Romney started for two seasons at Franklin High School and led the Cougars to a District I (6A) championship as a senior. Romney completed more than 70 percent of his passes for 2,900 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2014
“There were some very specific position needs that we were able to address in this class – tight end, linebacker and corner, for example,” said Polian. “Unlike the previous two years, we were able to look at our recruiting board and dedicate a couple of spots to the best player available, no matter what the position. That was fun as we evaluated a number of different prospects and envisioned their impact on our team.”
In addition to the 15-player class announced today, the first day of the signing period, Nevada has four players announced last year who enrolled this semester and will go through spring drills with the team. Three of the players will boost skill positions in running back Kelton Moore (5-11, 215), quarterback Cristian Solano (6-1, 180) and wide receiver Victor Gonzalez (6-1, 175) to go along with offensive lineman Cliff Porter (6-5, 270) from Hug High in Reno.
After posting a winning record, returning the Fremont Cannon to Reno and qualifying for a bowl game last season, coach Polian expressed his desire in thanking those that made this year's recruiting class possible.
“I want to take a moment to say thank you to our coaches for their tremendous effort in this process and to their families for sacrificing in order for us to do this incredible job,” said Polian. “I also want to thank all of the support staff surrounding our program who put a great deal of time into recruiting back here in the home office. We could not do this without the help of equipment, video, strength and conditioning, academic support, admissions or our athletic administration. On behalf of the football staff, I would like to say thank you.”
Nevada's first day of spring practice is scheduled for March 30, and the Silver & Blue Spring Game is slated for April 25.
Deposits for 2015 Nevada football season tickets are now being accepted. For as little as $50 per seat, deposits can establish priority for the best available new seat locations at Mackay Stadium. For questions or to place your deposit for the six-game home slate, call (775) 348-PACK.