What you need to know ... The
Rebel Shotgun Spread went through some major growing pains in
its first year hurt mostly by a wrist injury to starting QB
Shane Steichen. Now it'll be a battle between Steichen and USC
transfer Rocky Hinds to run the attack, but that's hardly the
only position battle. 5-6 Erick Jackson is firmly entrenched as
the starting running back with five options behind him looking
for playing time. The receiving corps is more talented even
after losing three of its top four wide receivers, while the
line is experienced with eight recruits on the way to push for
starting spots. Essentially, it's an experienced offense with a
major influx of very, very young talent that'll get every chance
Passing: Jarrod Jackson
124-228, 1,321 yds, 6 TD, 5 INT
Rushing: Erick Jackson
174 carries, 673 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Erick Jackson
36 catches, 370 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Junior QB Rocky Hinds
Player that has to step up and become a star: Hinds
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Aaron Straiten
Best pro prospect: Straiten
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hinds, 2) RB Erick
Jackson, 3) Straiten
Strength of the offense: Young talent, size and
experience on the offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
It's a great situation with Shane Steichen and Jarrod
Jackson experienced veterans and USC transfer Rocky Hinds the
expected star to carry UNLV to prominence. The key will be
mistakes; who'll make the fewest? Rebel quarterbacks threw 17
interceptions and 15 touchdowns completing 55% of their throws.
Getting to around 60% and a 2-to-1 TD to interception ratio
would be ideal.
The key to the unit: Rocky Hinds needs to be as good
as the hype while Shane Steichen has to be good enough to make
it a nasty battle for the starting gig.
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Rocky Hinds, Soph.
The USC transfer doesn't have the experience of Shane Steichen,
but he was good enough to rip apart the Rebel defense as a scout
teamer last season with all the tools to be a star. He's 6-5 and
220 pounds with an NFL arm and enough mobility to a difference
maker when he gets out of the pocket. He's going to be rusty
having not played since high school, so it's going to be a
battle for the starting job.
- Shane Steichen, Sr. - 88-159 55%, 967 yds, 8 TD, 5
INT, 67 carries, 324 yds, 4.8 ypc, 3 TD
Steichen started to look like the perfect fit for the Rebel
Shotgun Spread early on with 104 rushing yards against Idaho and
showing good toughness against New Mexico and Utah State.
However, he missed most of last season with an injured finger and
suffers from not being Rocky Hinds. He's 6-4, very mobile, and
knows the offense. Interceptions are his problem with 16 in his
career with one in each of his five appearances last season.
- Jarrod Jackson, Sr. - 124-228, 54%, 1,321 yds, 6 TD, 12
The 6-1 Jackson is a tough passer with far more mobility than he
showed last year. He tried his best when Shane Steichen went
down, but he struggled wildly with his consistency and threw 12
interceptions in six appearances and never got his running game
going. He did show some promise throwing for 356 yards and three
touchdowns against Utah and 329 yards and a score against BYU
leading the Rebels to a win over San Diego State.
It's a better situation than it might appear considering
the Rebels finished last in the Mountain West in rushing. The
diminutive Erick Jackson is the certain number one back with a
slew of prospects behind him looking for time. The best of the
bunch is 220-pound Torrie Coleman who's looking to live up to
his high school hype. The rest of the backs are small, quick,
and cut from about the same mold. Whoever gets the number two
job will get a ton of work to keep Jackson fresh.
The key to the unit: Quickly figure out who the
number two and three backs are behind Erick Jackson and get
everyone involved early.
Running Back Rating: 6
- Erick Jackson, Sr. - 174 carries, 673 yds, 3.9 ypc, 6
TD, 36 catches, 370 yds, 10.3 ypc, 1 TD
The team's most explosive player and best offensive player last
year, the 5-6 speedster led the team in rushing and finished
second in receiving. At his size he's not going to be a 25-carry
back, but he's tough and did the most with what he had to work
with. He needs holes to run through and space to move. While
he's a nice back, he needs everything else to be clicking around
him to be at his most effective.
- Ronnie Smith, Jr. - 2 carries, 59 yards, 29.5 ypc,
,2 catches, 17 yards
The Nebraska transfer ripped off a 61-yard run against Utah last
year, but that was about it. He's a speed back with good enough
hands to be moved to wide receiver if needed, and he should be
deadly when he gets the ball in space.
- David Peeples, Soph. - 1 carry, 4 yds
One of the few Rebel backs with any experience, albeit one
carry, Peeples is one of the team's fastest players and has
solid potential to quickly grow into the number two role.
- Torrie Coleman, RFr.
A Las Vegas high
school legend rushing for 2,100 yards as a senior, Coleman is
6-2 and fast. He was a huge recruit for the program and provides
the biggest rushing option.
- Lafayette Fletcher, RFr.
A small, quick back, Fletcher was a good recruit for the program
last year and will be given every shot at playing time. He could
move over to defensive back if he can't move his way through the
logjam of backs.
- U-Back Ryan Worthen, Soph.
Part fullback and part tight end, the 240-pound former
linebacker will take over the U-Back role used mainly as a
blocker. It'll be a shock if he touches the ball.
The Rebels lose last year's leading receiver,
tight end Greg Estandia, along with two of the top five pass
catchers in Donnell Wheaton and Tremayne Kirkland ... and the
corps will be better. The writing was on the wall for Wheaton
and Kirkland with the tremendous recruiting class brought in
last year, so they transferred. No worries; receiver was the
bright light of the 2005 recruiting haul and it'll pay off in a
big way with super-sophs Corey Anderson, Casey Flair, Renen
Saint Preux and Justin Marvel all ready to turn receiver from a
weakness to a strength. Things really become interesting if
super-recruit Aaron Straiten, who could've gone anywhere, is
half as good as his JUCO hype.
The key to the unit: The star freshmen of last year
have to live up to their promise as sophomores, and Aaron
Straiten has to be the real deal.
Receiver Rating: 6
- Corey Anderson, Soph. - 14 catches, 205 yds, 14.6 ypc,
The sophomore came on in a big way over the final four games
catching 13 of his passes over the final month highlighted by a
92-yard day against Utah. He's a big play waiting to happen at
the X and should live up to the great promise he started to
- Casey Flair, Soph. - 32 catches, 382 yds, 11.9 ypc, 2
The team's leading returning wide receiver is an athletic
walk-on who is tough as nails on the inside Z position. He was a
surprisingly steady target all of last year showing some
big-play ability with a 58-yard strike against Air Force.
- H-Back Renan Saint Preux, Soph. - 18 catches, 139 yds,
7.7 ypc, 7 carries, 39 yds
The H-Back is used to do a little of everything, and that's what
Saint Preux provides. He was a top recruit coming into last year
and got three starts being used as a short-range receiver and on
end arounds. He's one of the team's best athletes with unreal
- Tight end Rodelin Anthony, RFr.
One of the team's most interesting prospects, the 6-5,
220-pounder will play on the Y position as a combination of
tight end and inside receiver. He's a phenomenal, physical
athlete who was a star defensive back in high school.
- Aaron Straiten, Jr.
He'll find a starting spot somewhere. The JUCO transfer has been
mentioned by the coaches as a comparable talent to Keyshawn
Johnson and Curtis Conway. He's 6-3, 205 pounds, and fast, fast,
- Marques Johnson, Jr
He'll be a key receiver if he can stay healthy. Injury problems,
most notably a wrist injury, have kept the one-time superstar
recruit under wraps. He's healthy and very big at 6-3 and 215
pounds at the outside X position.
- Justin Marvel, Soph. - 2 catches, 26 yds, 13 ypc
Marvel can fly and should be a more dangerous weapon than
Casey Flair at the Z position. He started to show great upside
last season in the Utah before separating his shoulder and
missing the rest of the season.
Consider this a major work in progress until late this
summer when all the freshmen hit campus and the coaching staff figures
out where to make the puzzle pieces fit. The line was awful last year as
it tried to adjust to the new system, but now it's an experienced group
with a ton of help on the way with eight recruits for the line who'll
all get time in the mix right away. Massive JUCO transfer Johan Asiata
is the most heralded of the bunch, while true freshmen Ramsey Feagai,
Evan Marchal and Joe Hawley could all end up starting. The pass
protection has to be far better after allowing 39 sacks while paving the
way for a mere 1,188 rushing yards.
The key to the unit: Quickly get the talented young
freshmen up to speed while hoping for experience to turn into production
from all the returning talent.
Offensive Line Rating: 5.5
- OT Chris Bowser, Sr.
A starter over the last two seasons at left tackle, the 6-6, 285-pound
Bowser has to prove he can adapt to the new system. He struggled in pass
protection and needs to be more consistent.
- OG Brandon Gray, Sr.
The light appeared to go on for the 6-4, 325-pound senior this spring as
he looked far better than he ever did last season. He can play tackle if
needed, but his size makes him a stronger guard.
- C Aaron Mueller, Sr.
Able to play guard or center, Mueller moved to the middle last year and
started four times. With Tim Goins moving to guard, Mueller has the
starting job for now. That could quickly change this fall if and when
more reshuffling is done.
- OG Mike McKiski, Jr.
One of the team's rising blockers, the 6-6, 320-pound McKiski has the
job at right guard all to himself. The former walk-on has progressed
nicely over the last few years and should be one of the line's most
- OT Marco Guerra, Sr.
The coaching staff is looking for the best fit for the 6-5, 335-pound
senior. His knees have been a bit of a problem, but he's an athletic big
man who'll try to make the switch from guard to right tackle. He could
be moved around again this fall depending on the development of the
- G Tim Goins, Jr.
The main man at center last year will move to the right side to be the
main backup at both right guard and tackle. The versatile 285-pound
junior will push for starting time at both spots.
- OG Johan Asiata, Jr.
He's huge. The 340-pound JUCO transfer is
expected to come in right away and push for a guard spot adding a more
punishing run blocker to the mix.