September 19, 2019 Currently: 80° | Complete forecast

UNLV football’s first 2020 commitment is significant. Here’s why

Image

Steve Marcus

Arbor View’s Tai Tuinei (54) takes down Faith Lutheran quarterback Sagan Gronauer (7) during the Mountain Region high school football championship game against Faith Lutheran at Arbor View Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Arbor View won the game 28-7.

Many Las Vegas-area players have committed to the UNLV football program over the years. None have a commitment story like Arbor View 2020 defensive tackle Tai Tuinei.

The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Tuinei verbally committed last week while inside the Rebels’ Fertitta Football Complex, the nearly completed $31 million home for the program. Tuinei, on campus for a 7-on-7 tournament, is the first player to commit from inside the complex — a milestone surely not lost on the UNLV coaches.

The 73,000-square-foot, two story complex is a game-changer for the program because it gives them the best facilities in the Mountain West. Those facilities, of course, include the $1.8 billion football stadium being built near Interstate 15 and Russell Road that will be shared with the NFL’s Raiders.

The Fertitta complex was a top priority for coach Tony Sanchez when he was hired five years ago, giving the Rebels a gigantic edge in recruiting over other schools in the league.

That edge was indirectly seen with Tuinei, who had 74 tackles and nine sacks in 2018 in helping Arbor View win the Mountain Region championship.

Tuinei, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, is the first local pledge for the class of 2020. He also had a scholarship offer from Southern Utah.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21