Area's best sign with Nevada

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RENO -- To hear Wolf Pack football coach Chris Tormey talk about three of Northern Nevada's top players coming to the program, it was something of a recruiting coup.

The University of Nevada coach was quite happy with the signing of McQueen quarterback Jeff Rowe, Elko running back Kyle Eklund and Wooster tight end-defensive end J.J. Milan. Tormey was also happy with his overall recruiting class, which included 21 high school players and one junior college transfer, who signed on the first day of the national letter-of-intent signing period on Wednesday.

In all, there are 28 players in Nevada's 2002 recruiting class, which includes six other JC players who signed earlier.

Tormey called Rowe, Eklund and Milan "by far and away the top three prospects in Northern Nevada this year."

Tormey also said that Nevada was able to beat out Pac 10 schools for Rowe and Milan. He said that two Pac 10 schools recruited Rowe heavily after he had verbally committed to Nevada.

"He had the character to stick with his commitment," Tormey said.

Tormey said the Wolf Pack plan to use Eklund as a receiver. Tormey said Eklund has excellent speed. "He's also got that initial quickness," Tormey said.

While Milan can be used offensively or defensively, the plan is to use him as a defensive end. Tormey said the 6-5, 225-pound Milan may even become big enough to be a defensive tackle.

"He's an outstanding athlete that's got a world of potential," Tormey said.

Tormey also said it was key that Nevada keep the area's best players at home.

In addition, Tormey admitted that the emergence of Tonopah's Chance Kretschmer at running back had to help with local recruiting. He said Kretschmer's performance gave the school credibility with local players.

"It certainly didn't hurt," Tormey said. "Chance has become a national name. That definitely had a positive impact."

Nevada signed three high school quarterbacks as it also signed Ponderosa's Travis Moore, who was rated as one of the nation's top 15 quarterbacks by one recruiting service. Tormey said it was "very important" that Nevada sign at least two high school quarterbacks.

Among the top running backs that Nevada signed was Jake Foote of St. George, Utah. Tormey said Foote, who can bench press more than 400 pounds, will remind fans of Kretschmer.

"He's going to be a little reminiscent of Chance Kretschmer," he said.

There's also 5-8, 190-pound B.J. Mitchell of Loomis, who was the Sac Joaquin section's offensive player of the year.

At wide receiver is JC transfer Maurice Mann from Monterey Peninsula, who Tormey said is already the fastest player on the team. The JC player to sign on Wednesday was Golden West's (Calif.) Shaun Tagatatuli, a third team JC All-American linebacker.

While Tormey is trying to build for the future, he realizes his team's immediate need to fix its shortcomings, especially on defense. Five of the JC players signed are defensive players.

"We wanted to improve our depth on defense," Tormey said.

Another top receiver that Nevada signed was Tony Strong from Vancouver, British Columbia, who Tormey said can help on offense or defense.

Among the top offensive linemen that Nevada signed was 6-5, 290-pound Adam Garcia of Fairfield.

Another top defensive lineman came from Fairfield in 6-4, 230-pound Charles Wilson, who projected to be a defensive end. But Tormey said Wilson could become as big as 280-290 pounds and develop into a defensive tackle. As an athlete, Wilson in comprable to Milan, Tormey said.

The other recruits signed by Nevada on Wednesday were: Desmond Bishop, 6-2, 210-pound linebacker/defensive end from Fairfield; Clark Flournoy, 5-11, 180-pound defensive back from Phelan, Calif.; Scott Garrison, 5-11, 215-pound linebacker from San Luis Obispo.

Brendon Gaskins, 6-4, 240-pound quarterback from Farmington, N.M.; Chris Handy, 5-11, 175-pound defensive back from Arcadia, Calif.; Nick Hawthrone, 6-0, 195-pound defensive back from Sacramento; Brenton Kendrick, 6-0, 225-pound linebacker from Fairfield.

Kose Kuaea, 6-2, 240-pound defensive lineman from Tacoma, Wash.; Nick Posey, 6-5, 240-pound offensive lineman from Pacific Grove, Calif.; Barrett Reznick, 6-1, 265-pound offensive lineman from Scottsdale, Ariz.; Ross Wolter, 6-2, 227-pound linebacker from Elsinore, Calif.; and George Yarno, 6-2, 243-pound linebacker/defensive lineman from Phoenix.

"I think we're getting better every year that we've been here," Tormey said.

Tormey said the program is also on the way up after a dismal 2000, his first year.

"2000 was almost like playing a junior varsity team," Tormey said. "We were completely and utterly non-competitive. I think Wolf Pack football hit bottom in 2000."

But 2002 is much more promising, Tormey said. "We're not that far away," he said. "We're excited where we are and where we're going."


In a reference to Kretschmer, Tormey was asked during Wednesday's press conference to announce the signings if Nevada will be a running or passing team in 2002.

"We want to be balanced, which means that people will have to defend the pass or run on first and second down, and then on third down we want to be a running team," Tormey said.

The last reference was referring to the intent of setting up third and short situations, Tormey said.


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