Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 | 2 a.m.
On this play, you can’t help but notice Ryan Tantum’s raw athletic ability.
The offensive tackle pulls to the opposite side of the line and bulldozes a defender in his path, clearing the way for the running back to gain significant yards. In the background, Tantum’s Sierra College teammates on the sideline jump up and down in excitement.
Plays like this are what makes the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Tantum appealing to college recruiters. Plays like this could be common for UNLV next fall.
Tantum, a three-star recruit by 247Sports, is one of about 17 players expected today to sign letters of intent with the Rebels. The class, which includes 11 three-star recruits, is considered the third best in the Mountain West.
“UNLV has a lot to offer to develop me into the best player I can be,” said Tantum, who also had scholarship offers from New Mexico, New Mexico State, San Jose State and University of Texas at San Antonio.
Tantum credits his athleticism from being a multisport athlete growing up. He competed in volleyball, water polo, swimming, basketball and soccer. He didn’t start playing football until the eighth grade.
By time he was a junior in high school, around when he started dedicating himself to becoming a college player, others started to take notice. He said he was recruited out of high school, but had to attend junior college to become an academic qualifier.
“People have told me along the way that I have the potential. It took awhile, but here I am,” he said.
Tantum was born in South Africa and moved to the United States at age 3. His family is more familiar with soccer and rugby but have come to appreciate football. And for the next two years, they’ll have a favorite team — the Rebels of UNLV.
He’s not the lone recruit of note. Here are the others:
UNLV coach Tony Sanchez continued his mission of aggressively pursuing prospects from Las Vegas schools in this recruiting cycle, receiving commitments from a pair of three-star recruits from Liberty in linebacker Kyle Beaudry and safety Austin Fiaseu.
Beaudry, who led perennial power Liberty with 54 tackles and three sacks, also had scholarship offers from Hawaii, UNR and Army. Fiaseu had a UNR offer.
Just 13 Las Vegas-area players will sign with Division I Football Bowl Subdivision schools today — a slight decrease from more than 20 in each of the past two seasons.
You can argue that UNLV getting two commits, especially with nine of the 13 players signing with Power 5 Conference schools, is a victory.
More local ties
Two-star wide receiver Malik Wesley of Columbia, S.C., is a Las Vegas native who played as a high school freshman in the Liberty program. Two-star athlete Sir Everett Oliver played at Silverado and Faith Lutheran, before finishing his prep career in 2018 at the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering.
Head of the class
Riverside City College linebacker Vic Viramontes had offers from TCU, Baylor and Boise State, yet he picked UNLV, where he’ll contribute immediately on the Rebels’ potentially emerging defense.