Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2004 | 9:46 a.m.
It's been an unusually quiet recruiting year for UNLV coach John Robinson this winter.
There haven't been any big-name transfers from Pac-10 or Big Ten schools as in years past. The only quarterback recruit, athletic Marcus Johnson of Locke High School in Los Angeles, actually signed last February but waited until January to enroll so as not to waste an extra year redshirting.
And until Tuesday night's announcement that the top prep prospect in Las Vegas, Cheyenne High School running back David Peeples, had picked UNLV over Oregon and Mississippi State, the only new offensive skill player the Rebels were assured of bringing in was a fullback ... hard-hitting Chad Henley of Moorpark (Calif.) JC.
But barring any last-minute defections today on national letter of intent signing day, the class of recruiting class of 2004 may ultimately go down as Robinson's finest at UNLV.
The Rebels appear to have filled some big holes on defense, particularly on the line where all three starters from 2003 -- Chris Eagen, Dietrich Canterberry and Joe Oniwar -- have graduated, and in the secondary where depth was so thin last season that the team rarely used a nickel package in passing situations.
Among the highlights of the class:
UNLV also beat out several Pac-10 schools to land two of the top prep defensive backs in southern California in 6-foot-3 K.C. Asiodu of Ayala High School in Chino Hills and safety Jeff Brown (6-foot-2, 187) of Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Calif.
The Rebels also continued to strengthen their offensive line with the addition of Chris Bowser (6-6, 295) of Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., who turned down offers from both Colorado and Washington to join former Goucho teammate Tyler Crandal in Las Vegas. He still has three years of eligibility remanining and may be the top recruit in the class.
Peeples, the Sun's state offensive player of the year, was the only player from the state of Nevada to receive votes in the Long Beach Press-Telegram's prestigious Best in the West poll this year.
Besides Bloomer, the Rebels were still waiting for final decisions from offensive guard Sam McNaulty (6-3, 315) of City College of San Francisco and athletic Kameron Kranz (6-2, 210) of Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday night. McNaulty also took trips to Marshall and Temple while the versatile Kranz was still getting looks from Pac-10 schools.
UNLV is scheduled to open the 2004 season on Sept. 4 at Tennessee.