Special to the Sun / Denton Record-Chronicle
Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
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One high school football player who verbally committed to the UNLV football team hasn't heard from anyone affiliated with the program in nearly a month.
Another commit had his November recruiting trip delayed for a week, then indefinitely postponed.
Still, the three high school seniors who have committed to UNLV said this week that they plan on sticking with the Rebels come national signing day Feb. 3.
The group — wide receiver Luke Russell from Denton, Texas, defensive end Ray Stovall from Tulsa, Okla., and defensive lineman Quentin Jones from Columbus, Ohio, — currently is rated as the nation's No. 114 recruiting class out of 126 schools by recruiting Web site Rivals.com.
The three-athlete class surely will grow when Mike Sanford's replacement is hired in the upcoming days. That coach, however, will be severely behind in the process — several schools have commitments from 20-plus athletes, while most have received verbals from at least 10.
Sanford was fired in late November and his assistants were told two weeks ago that their contracts wouldn't be renewed. With no coach in place, recruiting has been at a virtual standstill — retained graduate assistants and a volunteer coordinator have been assigned to track recruits and handle minor paperwork.
"It all depends on the head coach, but right now I'm still 100-percent committed," said Russell, a wide receiver from Guyer High in Denton, Texas, who committed in July.
All three, despite their solid commitments, have been contacted frequently by multiple schools.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Russell said he picked UNLV because of the offense the Rebels ran under former offensive coordinator Todd Berry, who was hired Tuesday as the head coach at Louisiana-Monroe. Berry also recruited Stovall, a defensive end from Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa, Okla.
"Coach Berry's offense is so unique. It fits my ability to a T," said Russell, who had 58 catches for 842 yards and six touchdowns this fall, helping Guyer reach the 4A state semifinals. "I don't know what I am doing until the new head coach is hired. Obviously, if they hired a coach who runs the wishbone, I won't be coming."
Stovall, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound weakside defensive end, said he hasn't been in contact with anyone from the program since the week prior to Sanford's dismissal — a span of more than three weeks, he estimates. Stovall had 95 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior as Booker T. Washington High won Oklahoma's 5A state title.
Stovall said Berry initially sold him on UNLV, but he has since done his own research online and has fell in love with the school.
"UNLV has a lot to offer," Stovall said. "I'm not stressing. I know they are going to get a new head coach, and no matter who the coach is, he will make the program better. I'm pretty excited about that."
Jones, who committed to UNLV as a junior, also still plans on signing in February. A four-year varsity performer at Columbus' Northland High, Jones said he is loyal to UNLV because the program has been loyal to him.
Jones committed to the Rebels as a junior, then tore the ACL in his knee during the first quarter of the first game of his senior season. He was recruited by former UNLV defensive line coach Andre Patterson — a respected coach with NFL experience Jones was looking forward to playing for ̵ and said UNLV honored his scholarship even with the injury.
"I just had big plans to try and help that team get better," said Jones, who had surgery Sept. 10 and is more than halfway done with his rehab.
Jones said he was scheduled to take his official recruiting trip during the final weekend of November when the Rebels hosted San Diego State. But coaches called and told him the trip would delayed until the weekend of Dec. 5. Then, it was canceled.
Now, Jones is fielding calls from the likes of Miami-Ohio and Ohio University and knows a backup plan is his best option with the uncertainty.
"He is still interested in going to UNLV, but we don't know if the new coach will be interested," Northland coach Kevin Toosen said.
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].