UNLV may have hit recruiting jackpot with Hawaiian transplant

Talented defensive lineman ruled ineligible as senior, eager to make up for lost time

Pac-10 schools such as Cal, Oregon State and Washington heavily recruited Desmond Tautofi after his junior season of high school football at Kaimuki High in Honolulu.

But after moving to Las Vegas in August and being ruled ineligible by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive lineman fell off the recruiting map.

Not for new UNLV coach Bobby Hauck.

Tautofi, who attends 2A classification Calvary Chapel in Las Vegas, visited UNLV this weekend with six other locals and committed to the Rebels on Sunday after his trip. He joins Green Valley High kicker Nolan Kohorst, Bishop Gorman defensive back Taylor Spencer and Desert Pines wide receiver Eric Tuiloma, who also committed Sunday.

Calvary Chapel coach Cliff Frazier, who has been coaching in Las Vegas since the early 1980s, said he feels the Rebels have a steal in Tautofi, who practiced most of the season with Calvary Chapel.

"There is not much the kid can't do," Frazier said. "He's agile, agile, agile. He could have played quarterback, and been one of the best in town, if he wanted to."

He'll line up on defense for UNLV, and, after taking a year off, is eager to strap on his shoulder pads.

"I like contact. I like getting in peoples' faces and getting all of my strength into them," Tautofi said. "I like when the opposing team is scared of me. That's how it was. I was that guy who was always beating up other guys. But I'm a cool dude — until the ball is snapped."

Tautofi moved to Las Vegas to live his brother, Robert Tautofi, an assistant coach with Calvary Chapel and former player at UCLA.

But the association never cleared him and he wound up missing his entire senior year. That scared off recruiters from other schools.

"The kid was just a stud in Hawaii," Frazier said. "There is not much he can't do. He's just so quick off the ball."

Tautofi is a two-star recruit by scouting service and two-time all-state selection in football, basketball and volleyball. He also helped Kaimuki win the state basketball crown as a freshman.

"His footwork for the most part is exceptional," David Tautofi said. "He just has a world of talent."

Desmond Tautofi initially gave a soft verbal commitment to Wyoming as a sophomore — a shock to most recruiting experts — but the Cowboys also backed off once he was ruled ineligible.

UNLV turned out being the perfect match — and the lone school that didn't pull its scholarship offer.

"I always wanted to be a Rebel," Tautofi said. "I went to all of their games this year and wished I was on the field hitting people. I'm grateful coach Hauck didn't care what happened to me and went off film from my junior year."

Tautofi said Hauck preached during the weekend visit about transforming the program into something the community can be proud off. Tautofi is eager for that opportunity.

"One of the biggest reasons why I committed to UNLV was to give the Rebel Nation something to be excited about," he said. "When coach Hauck says we are going to win, it's not a suggestion. It's a guarantee."

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].

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  1. Looking forward to seeing Desmond as well as all the recent recruits in a UNLV uniform! Welcome to UNLV!

  2. Go Rebels!

  3. yea sounds good lets keep it comeing I can see some upsets this year with unlv pulling them off...

  4. Quentin Jones at DT is a beast with a motor.

    I would like to see Desmond Tautofi at LB with his agility and mean attitude.

    DE Ian Bobak is mean too.

    Our D line is good to go for the years to come with Quick off the ball Nate Holloway included.

    When we land a beast at safety, (maybe Starr converts to S) D well be mighty.

  5. bcs, Spencer and 1 more (Tuiloma or Bobak, I forget) were recruited as safeties to UNLV. Doesn't mean they play there for sure, but that could help fill the safety spot you were talking about..

    I hope we see some underclassmen in the starting spots this year, because there is a lot of talent coming in.

  6. I like the sound of this guy. He has a rugby player's mentality: just wanting to smash people, LOL.
    Hauck is here to make things happen!

  7. If i was a Bishop Gorman Student, i would be in the ear of Xavier Grimble, reminding him how much he loves his mother. She is why he should play in Nevada at UNLV since USC is up in the air.

    We will still respect his status and recruitment success.
    This UNLV thing so reminds me of the 30for30 doc. special about the U of Miami. Grimble would be the star of that documentary if he came to the U of NLV.

  8. UNLVbcs: Q Jones will be a good player for UNLV. It won't be immediately, though. He torn the ACL in his knee during the first quarter of the first game this fall. He's only at about 50-percent. I wouldn't be surprised if he used his red-shirt year next fall to get his strength back. ...And there is no way Grimble goes to UNLV. I guarantee you he will be in the NFL in four years. He is a special, special player.

  9. I think because Jones is only called 6 ft tall he lost some looks from big time schools. That along with the leg.
    As i am watching DT out that are highly touted this year, Jones is my favorite when it comes to pursuit. I notice his speed and the way he plays like a mean pit bull.

    You can tell that the leg will not hurt his ability because what makes him special is his heart and love for smashing peoples lips

  10. Are there any people still questioning Hauck's commitment to recruiting locally?

  11. Ray, when was the last time we had a recruiting class that had this much excitment, When the heck does the season tickets go on sale.

  12. Gang: You are right. There is a ton of excitement associated with the program. These recruits can all play, BUT it's important to remember UNLV has a brutal schedule next year. The transformation won't happen overnight. I will call UNLV in the morning to find out about season tickets. I assume they will cost more next year because UNLV hosts Wisconsin.

  13. UNLV has a new strength and conditioning coach who is hardcore.

    UNLV will play Wisconsin and have a "brutal schedule" indeed. BUT the fact is there is a new general at UNLV.

    At the first team meeting today Coach spoke about jumping in with 2 feet and if you can not commit like that now he does not need you on the squad.
    This new general is ok with me and may have success even against Wisconsin as UNLV.

  14. The schedule might be the best UNLV has ever played but remember fellas this current team can win 5 games by themselves without a coach, they proved that the last 2 years. Put Hauck in leadership along with his discipline and it equals good things for this program. I cannot make a prediction on how many wins next year but I surely dont see this team taking any steps backwards.


  16. number 24 is Starr. He wants to play safety as he is around 215 lbs but the coaches keep him at LB. He would be a beast at Safety. I hope he goes out for safety.
    The players say he is likely the hardest hitting LB.
    @moni truely the new coaches may bring that out as you said.

  17. yes I think Starr would be superb at safety<strong>
    #22 who came from EL CAMINO JC as their Hardest Hitter winner the year before should be at free Safety . We saw glimpses of greatness from him, DeGiacomo #22 .But bad coaching/alternating personnel coaches inability to mold a defense to the talent, instead they forced the players to fit a conceptual defense this hurt us , hurt the players and clouded everyone in seeing how much good talent this squad has .Bad coaching effects every positive aspect of a team.Let their be life after Sanford .God Bless Our new coaches and all who care about Rebel football.

  18. @UNLVbcs & Moni,

    I am on board with moving Starr to Strong Safety and DiGiacomo to Free Safety. Therrell's defensive schemes were horrible. Even the fastest most talented DB's in the country couldn't have covered anybody in his schemes. There is no way any db should be 12 yds. off of scrimmage dropping into zone coverage, you are already dead being so far off the ball. The whole defensive line needs to be blown up, way too slow and cannot get off blocks to make plays. I'm sure Hauck will address this right away. Games are won & lost at the line of scrimmage, get Nate Holloway & Quentin Jones in there to get pressure up the middle along with BJ Bell coming off the edge. Move Barrett back to MLB along with Ronnie Paulo & Nate Carter. The biggest turn around on this team shold be defensively.

    We will see Bradley Randle get a lot of touches this year - Hauck is familiar with #28 he recruited him at Montana and is well aware of his talent. Should be a fun year I am actually excited about Rebel football for once....