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Tony Sanchez leads the team out of the tunnel before UNLV's game against San Diego on November 21, 2015 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)
Tony Sanchez leads the team out of the tunnel before UNLV's game against San Diego on November 21, 2015 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

UNLV Football Making Strides in Off-Season Under Sanchez’s Supervision

By Ashley Miles
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After several disappointing years, things may be looking up for the UNLV football program.

Under head coach Tony Sanchez, the Rebels won more than two games in the 2015 season for only the fourth time in the last 12 years. Sanchez also has them playing more aggressively, with the Rebels leading or trailing by one touchdown or less in nine out of 12 games in the previous season.

“The Rebels made big strides in becoming competitive each week in 2015,” said Mark Wallington, director of media relations for UNLV football. “Now, with more depth and talent, they hope to finish strong at the end of the fourth quarter to turn those close games into more victories.”

After achieving a great deal of success in six years as part of the Bishop Gorman High School football program, Sanchez was given the UNLV head coaching title in December of 2014. Sanchez is one of the few college coaches to make the jump directly from the high school ranks to Division I.

Sanchez gets animated after a UNLV pick-six late in the second half against UNR (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Sanchez gets animated after a UNLV pick-six late in the second half against UNR (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

“Even though they didn’t get the wins to show for it, I think the Rebels started playing a lot better ever since Sanchez took over,” Raheel Sadiq said, a senior engineering student at UNLV and self-proclaimed passionate college football fan. “A lot of the games were close when they would usually be blowouts.”

“Under Tony Sanchez, UNLV is on its way to becoming a consistently winning program for the first time,” Wallington said. “I believe this will be a very different program five years from now.”

Sanchez and his staff were able to put together a promising 2016 recruiting class. This class includes outstanding potential and is being hailed as one of the greatest recruiting classes in UNLV history.

Among the three-star recruits include two highly sought after defensive players from Fresno, California, David Tate, linebacker, and Leevel Tatum, defensive tackle. Also, dual- threat quarterback Armani Rogers, a former Cal commit, chose UNLV over Fresno State and five Pac- 12 schools.

UNLV has improved its recruiting ranking within the Mountain West Conference under Sanchez’s supervision.  

“Coach Sanchez and his impressive staff have done a phenomenal job recruiting in the relatively short time they have been at UNLV,” Wallington said. “With an entire year to evaluate talent and build relationships with coaches, players and families, they brought in a record-setting class with the most three-star recruits (10) in school history. These guys know what they are doing not just on the field but also in the world of recruiting and it’s exciting to see the kind of talent they are bringing in.”

Additionally, Sanchez’s ties to Bishop Gorman will undoubtedly open new doors for UNLV to recruit more great players in the future.

Tony Sanchez leads Bishop Gorman out of the tunnel before a game in 2014 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

Tony Sanchez leads Bishop Gorman out of the tunnel before a game in 2014 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon)

 

“Two players from Bishop Gorman who were part of our signing class, both offensive linemen, became the earliest commits to UNLV football in history when they pledged to become Rebels in February 2015,” Wellington said. “That alone shows that the players that Coach Sanchez was with at Gorman have great respect for him and believe in what he is doing here.”

With these promising recruitment efforts, Rebel fans and athletic staff are hoping to see it pay off in the form of more season victories.

“I think most students would show more support once the team starts putting up more wins,” Sadiq said. “The new recruiting class is a great start. I hope it translates well on the field.”

“Winning is the biggest thing to get people excited and this staff is doing everything in its power to make that happen on a consistent basis,” Wallington said.

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