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May 15, 2021

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rebels football:

Strong-armed QB Sean Reilly ready to compete for UNLV starting job

Juco signal called expected to sign letter of intent Wednesday morning; enroll this spring

Sean Reilly

Courtesy of Stephanie Plese

Saddleback Junior College quarterback Sean Reilly signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to join the UNLV football program.

Sean Reilly

Saddleback Junior College quarterback Sean Reilly signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to join the UNLV football program. Launch slideshow »

Future UNLV quarterback Sean Reilly

If coach Bobby Hauck does transform the UNLV football team into a winner, the quarterback under center calling the shots for the Rebels could be this man.

Sean Reilly, a 20-year-old sophomore at Saddleback Junior College in Mission Viejo, Calif., passed for 2,323 yards and 20 touchdowns last fall with just six interceptions in leading Saddleback to an 8-3 record.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Reilly is expected to sign his national letter of intent Wednesday morning with UNLV during the junior college signing period, and will enroll for the spring semester to take part in spring practices.

Reilly also had offers from Virginia, Louisiana Tech and North Texas. He also had interest from Kansas, but only took a recruiting trip to UNLV — a school he calls his clear No. 1 choice.

With only two quarterbacks in the program, Reilly is expected to compete immediately with sophomore-to-be Caleb Herring to be the Rebels’ starter. The other quarterback, red-shirt freshman Taylor Barnhill will also get a look, but is considered more of a long-term project.

Reilly took a recruiting trip this weekend and committed early Sunday before returning to Southern California for his junior college team’s banquet. He immediately felt comfortable with UNLV’s playbook because some of the Rebels’ sets resemble what he ran at Saddleback.

“It’s pretty much the exact same system from my junior college with the shot gun and some of the (short) passes,” Reilly said. “It’s going to be an easy transition for me coming to UNLV.”

Reilly closed the season by passing for 1,178 yards in Saddleback’s final three games. Against Fullerton College, he completed a school-record 34 passes, good enough for 391 yards and five touchdowns.

“He is a very good quarterback who prepares himself well for each game,” Saddleback coach Mark McElroy said. “He will be a great quarterback for UNLV. He’s a good drop-back quarterback, has a strong and accurate arm, and is tough.”

Reilly played in six games as a freshman at Orange Coast College, but red-shirted in 2009 while transferring to Saddleback. He was just 17 when he graduated, and turned down a handful of walk-on and Football Championship Subdivision offers for the change to develop on the junior college ranks.

His talent, however, has never been in question.

Scott Orloff, who was formerly the defensive coordinator at Orange Coast College, said Reilly frequently dissected his defense turning 7-on-7 passing drills.

“He was the best quarterback we had over there,” said Orloff, who is now the head coach at Reilly’s alma mater, Trabuco Hills High. “I’m so excited for him. He’s a great kid and a great quarterback. He’s going to do good over there for UNLV.”

UNLV went 2-11 last year in Hauck's first season. The Rebels received inconsistent play from their quarterbacks most of the season, with Mike Clausen winning the job in the summer but eventually being moved to defense.

With senior Omar Clayton taking a majority of the snaps, the Rebels passed for roughly 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns. Herring, playing mostly in mop-up duty, completed 28-of-56 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns.

Reilly, a strong-armed pocket passer, will surely challenge for the starting spot this spring. Spring practices begin Feb. 28.

“(Being able to compete) was one of the reasons why I picked UNLV, but not the only one,” Reilly said. “No matter where you go on the Division I level, there are going to be talented guys. The competition makes you better.”

Hauck isn’t allowed to comment on recruits until a letter of intent is received.

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