Las Vegas Sun

August 13, 2022

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High School Recruiting:

Canyon Springs player first to commit to UNLV football in Sanchez era

2014 Sun All-City Team

Sam Morris

Sun All-City Team member Melvin Johnson from Canyon Springs High School

New UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez received his first verbal commitment from a Las Vegas-area high school player today.

And that player didn’t play for Bishop Gorman, where Sanchez coached the past six seasons before taking the UNLV job earlier this month.

Melvin Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior defensive lineman from Canyon Springs High, picked UNLV over an offer from Weber State. He also had heavy recruiting interest from Colorado State and UNR.

“(Sanchez) says he wants me to be the new face of UNLV. I took that as motivation,” Johnson said.

Johnson, a first-team all-Northeast League selection in 2014 and part of the Sun’s preseason all-city team, has the tools to develop into a difference maker on the defensive line. He runs a 4.9-second 40-yard dash, has a 29-inch vertical leap and has plenty of room to add bulk to his frame.

“Sanchez saw the same thing we did: He’s got tremendous upside,” Canyon Springs coach Hunkie Cooper said. “He’s a long and rangy guy. He’s only going to get better and stronger.”

Johnson, a three-year varsity player at Canyon Springs, played both ways in 2014 for Canyon Springs in helping it win the Northeast championship. The Pioneers are a perennial top-10 team in the Las Vegas area and reached the Sunrise Regional semifinals this past two seasons.

Johnson will get a chance to flourish at UNLV, Cooper said.

“He’ll only get better playing for a coach who understands high school kids,” Cooper said. “Sanchez is committed to this city. He wants local kids to be part of the change.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at

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