Friday, Sept. 2, 2011 | 2 a.m.
MADISON, Wis. — UNLV suffered its first blow in the 2011 season opener before even boarding the plane to travel to Wisconsin on Wednesday.
Sullivan caught six passes for 102 yards and two scores last season as a freshman but ranked 17th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in kick return average at 27.9 yards a pop. His 35 returns and 976 return yards set UNLV and Mountain West Conference single-season records. He was UNLV's most explosive offensive weapon all throughout fall camp and was slotted as a starter at receiver across from senior standout Phillip Payne.
As for Johnson, the highly-touted junior college transfer was set to be UNLV's prime punt returner and also made the initial depth chart as a No. 2 wideout.
"We're still waiting for academic clearance," second-year coach Bobby Hauck said after the game. "I don't know (their future statuses). Redshirts, possibly. Maybe they'll be cleared. Without delving into their academic statuses, I think we'll have Eric next week."
Getting Johnson back would give UNLV a nice boost heading to Pullman, Wash. for a showdown with Washington State. Losing Sullivan potentially for the year, though, would hurt.
Sullivan, who enjoyed a standout career at Cheyenne High, grayshirted the 2009 season after failing to qualify academically.
Senior Michael Johnson, who led UNLV last season with 50 receptions, started in his place and caught a team-high seven passes for 51 yards.
This and that …
Phillip Payne's third quarter TD catch was the 20th of his UNLV career, tying him with Nathaniel Hawkins (1968-71) for third on the school's all-time career list. He's four behind the all-time leader, Henry Bailey (24, 1991-94) … Junior college transfer Chase Lansford was impressive in his debut as UNLV's new punter. His five attempts traveled an average of 44.4 yards, including a 56-yard boot on his first kick. Last season, UNLV ranked 109th out of 120 FBS programs with an average of 37.04 yards per punt. … Sophomore kicker Nolan Kohorst, who missed three field goal attempts all season as a freshman, was 1-for-3 on Thursday. He hit from 37 yards after missing kicks from 34 and 52 yards. … Junior linebacker Princeton Jackson had an impressive UNLV debut, finishing with five tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and the team's lone sack … UNLV's all-time record against Wisconsin now stands at 2-8. This will likely be the final meeting between the two, as there are no plans to continue the series in the foreseeable future.