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rebels football:

UNLV football adds four midyear JC transfers

Highlights for UNLV signee Jack Killian

Help is on the way for the UNLV football team in the name of four midyear junior college transfers.

The school announced the signing Thursday and each player — two defensive linemen, an offensive lineman and wide receiver — will enroll at UNLV in January and compete in spring practice. They will be eligible to play in the 2013 season.

They are offensive lineman C.J. Backlund (6-foot-4, 265 pounds) of Chabot College in Harward, Calif.; defensive lineman Asten Koki (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) Mt. San Antonio College located in Walnut, Calif.; Sieua Vaesau (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) Diablo Valley College; and wide receiver Jack Killian (6-foot, 195 pounds) of San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif.

“Midyear JC players are hard to come by and all of these guys are solid students,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said at statement. “It’s a huge benefit to being able to have these guys in the off-season conditioning program and then coaching them in spring ball, so we are excited.”

Here is a look at each player (information provided by UNLV):

Backlund is the second player out of Helsinki, Finland, to join the Rebels in as many years (LB Max Ehlert is the other; both played at Chabot College). Backlund was a unanimous choice for First Team All-Golden Gate Conference in 2011 and 2012, helping the Gladiators tie for first place in the league last season.

“C.J. will come in and provide immediate depth for the interior of our offensive line,” Hauck said in the statement. “We expect him to challenge for a starting spot at either guard or center next year.”

Killian, who graduated from Central Catholic High School in Modesto, Calif., before playing two seasons at San Joaquin Delta College, caught 55 passes for 992 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012. He led the Northern California Football Association Valley Conference in league play with seven scores.

“Jack is a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball and will give us another reliable veteran target to throw the football to,” Hauck said in the statement.

• Koki is a native of Pearl City, Hawaii, and graduate of Honolulu’s Roosevelt High School. Last year at Mt. San Antonio College, he had 22 tackles, including 4.5 tackles-for-loss.

“Koki gives us another defensive lineman on the inside and improves our numbers at a position we’ve been thin at, which is important,” Hauck said in the statement.

Vaesau is a graduate of Pinole Valley High School in Pinole, Calif., which is the same program that produced former Rebel defensive back and all-conference kick returner Deante’ Purvis (2008-11). Vaesau played both on the defensive line and at linebacker at Diablo Valley College. He recorded 36 total tackles, including 6.5 quarterback sacks, as a sophomore last fall.

“Sieua is a big, athletic defensive player with unlimited potential,” Hauck said in the statement. “We see him moving from a big linebacker on the JC level to being a big part of our defensive line.”

UNLV also has verbal commitments from two local high school players — running back Niko Kapeli from Liberty High and Devonte Boyd and Basic High. Hauck said last month he expects to sign about 15 players in the 2013 signing class.

When most Division I programs already have double-digit commitments, UNLV typically waits until mid-to-late January to start filling up its recruiting class.

The Rebels will surely be looking for help in the secondary, which was a clear weakness in 2012 when the Rebels won just two games.

National signing day is in early February.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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