Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 | 2 a.m.
The Bishop Gorman High football program has graduates playing at Notre Dame, Duke, Colorado State and numerous other universities. Yet, there is a poster for just one college hanging in the football office of the two-time defending mythical national champions — hometown UNLV.
It’s no coincidence.
The architect of the Gorman dynasty is second-year UNLV coach Tony Sanchez, who led the Gaels to an 85-5 record and six state championships before leaving in 2014 for UNLV. His brother, Kenny Sanchez, took over as coach and has continued the success.
If Gorman seniors Jaron Caldwell and Julio Garcia II have their way, the dominance will carry over to UNLV. The offensive linemen, so confident Sanchez will turn the Rebels into a winner and still fond of their former coach, committed to UNLV last February, some 11 months before national signing day. They will sign intent letters Wednesday, becoming the first to go directly from Gorman to UNLV with Sanchez.
It could be the start of many more commits.
“At Gorman, there always will be a lot of kids with offers from everywhere around the country,” Caldwell said. “I am going to try to get as many people to follow me (to UNLV) as I can.”
Gorman, the seven-time state champion, is the first stop on the recruiting trail for college coaches when they arrive in Las Vegas. They, too, want to start a Gorman pipeline. And that’s where Kenny Sanchez promises to stay objective.
While he wants his brother to flourish, he knows there are some players who will pick other schools. Last year, for instance, Gorman linebacker Nela Otukolo decommitted from UNLV before signing with Mountain West foe Fresno State.
“As his brother, yeah, it would be awesome if everyone of our big-time kids went to UNLV,” Kenny Sanchez said. “As far as steering them that way, I wouldn’t know how to do that. What, do I wear a UNLV shirt every day? It is where the kid wants to go, ultimately. We are in the business for our kids. We are only successful because of our kids.”
Gorman’s 2017 class is loaded with bluechip recruits — a five-star quarterback already committed to Texas A&M, two defensive backs committed to Pac-12 schools, one of the nation’s top defensive line recruits, and an elite wide receiver. Each are considered four-star or better prospects, and each won’t wind up at UNLV. First, the Rebels, who went 3-9 in Sanchez’s first season, have to prove themselves.
“They want to see how UNLV will do in the next few years,” Caldwell said. “But at least they are noticing. Nobody (at Gorman) paid attention to UNLV until Sanchez got there.”
In Garcia and Caldwell, two big-bodied linemen who could immediately plug needs on the Rebels’ undersized offensive line, Sanchez got the top two recruits in Gorman’s 2016 class. Don’t be surprised in a few seasons if Caldwell (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) at tackle, Garcia (6-foot-3, 310 pounds) at guard and Kent State transfer Zack Singer, a 2014 Gorman product, at center, each start on the Rebels’ offensive line.
“(Sanchez) expects a lot for us. He wants everyone to be a tough guy,” Garcia said. “He wants us to keep working hard and keep doing what we’ve been doing at Gorman.”
Unlike any Rebel coach before, Sanchez has embraced Las Vegas and what the Strip has to offer. Having locals, Gorman or not, on his roster is paramount in the quest to get residents to support the team — especially on game day. Additionally, lineman Donovan Outlaw of Coronado is expected to sign Wednesday.
“The buzz around town is the same here (at Gorman), and that’s UNLV is getting better,” Kenny Sanchez said.
Tony Sanchez often tells recruits their face will be on billboards to promote the program once they start having success. For Garcia, a native Las Vegan, that’s something he’s confident will happen with Sanchez calling the shots. The two are so close, Garcia committed last year the same week he was offered a scholarship.
“I have faith in Sanchez,” Garcia said. “Whatever he tells me I know I can do.”