Then-Nevada head coach Jay Norvell talks to officials during the game against Kansas State on Sept. 18, 2021, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Head coach Jay Norvell isn’t the only member of the 2021 Nevada Wolf Pack football team who didn’t truly believe that home means Nevada.
Nearly two dozen players, coaches and recruits, who were on the Wolf Pack roster or verbally committed to the school, all chose to be Rocky Mountain high with Norvell’s Colorado State Rams.
Norvell raided the Wolf Pack’s offense, taking with him to Fort Collins, Colo., offensive coordinator Matt Mumme, offensive line coach Bill Best, wide receivers coach Timmy Chang, tight ends coach Chad Savage as well as offensive linemen Trevyn Heil, Jacob Garner and Gray Davis, quarterback Clay Millen, running back Avery Morrow and wide receivers Melquan Stovall and Tory Horton. Also transferring to Colorado State from Nevada are linebacker Peter Montini and defensive back A.J. King.
Norvell also induced Nevada strength and conditioning coach Jordan Simmons, director of player personnel Lucas Gauthier and special teams coach Thomas Sheffield to join him with the Rams.
Norvell also persuaded recruits he originally convinced to commit to the Wolf Pack to change their minds and go to Colorado State. Those former Nevada recruits are quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi of Aledo, Texas, safety Corey Lambert of New Orleans, wide receivers Louis Brown and Justus Ross-Simmons, both of Inglewood, Calif., and offensive lineman Aaron Karas of Arvada, Colo.
SAN JOSE STATE ALSO NOW HAS NEVADA FLAVOR: Norvell’s Rams are not the only Mountain West program that has raided the Wolf Pack’s roster in the last few weeks.
The San Jose State Spartans this past week grabbed a couple of Wolf Pack wide receivers. Justin Lockhart, who caught 35 passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns this year, and Elijah Cooks, who caught 13 passes for 157 yards and four touchdowns in three games before suffering a season-ending injury, are now Spartans.
The loss of Lockhart and Cooks means that six (Romeo Doubs, Melquan Stovall, Tory Horton, Cole Turner, Lockhart and Cooks) of the Pack’s top seven receivers from 2021 have left the program. The Pack’s leading receiver in its Quick Lane Bowl game in Detroit on Dec. 27 (8 a.m. kickoff) against Western Michigan will be running back Toa Taua (37 catches, 273 yards and one touchdown). Harry Ballard (six catches, 127 yards, two scores) and Jamaal Bell (seven catches, 44 yards, no touchdowns) will be the Pack’s two most productive wide receivers from 2021 in Detroit for the bowl game.
SPARTANS REVAMP OFFENSE: San Jose State has also added transfer quarterback Chevan Cordeiro from Hawaii in recent weeks.
The 6-1 Cordeiro played the past four seasons at Hawaii, passing for 6,167 yards and 45 touchdowns. He threw for 2,793 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
Cordeiro’s transfer, as well as running back Dae Dae Hunter’s transfer to Liberty, prompted media reports of Hawaii players’ unhappiness with Rainbow Warriors coach Todd Graham.
“Me and a lot of others can truthfully say Graham has killed our love and passion for football,” a Hawaii player told SFGate.com, according to The Sporting News.
“It’s verbal abuse the way he talks to guys,” another player told SFGate.
HENLEY NOW A COUGAR: Wolf Pack linebacker Daiyan Henley has transferred to Washington State.
“Once a Cougar, always a Cougar,” said Henley this week, whose Crenshaw High in Los Angeles is also named the Cougars.
Henley, who has one more year of eligibility remaining, chose Washington State over USC, Washington and Kansas State. Henley, who began his Wolf Pack career as a wide receiver, led the Pack this season with 103 tackles. The 6-2, 225-pounder also had four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. His 103 tackles are the most by a Pack player in one season since linebacker Austin Paulhus had 112 in 2017.
Henley returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown against UNLV this year and also returned a fumble 56 yards for a touchdown against San Jose State.
PACK UNDERDOGS: The Wolf Pack, according to Nevada sports books, are about a touchdown underdog on Monday against Western Michigan. When the matchup was announced earlier this month, before the Nevada exodus to Colorado State, the Wolf Pack was a six-point favorite.
Western Michigan is 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the Mid American Conference. The Broncos beat San Jose State 23-3 and Pittsburgh 44-41 in late September and later buried Kent State 64-31.
The Broncos, who will basically be playing a home game on Monday against the Pack, average 31 points a game and are led on offense by 6-foot-1 sophomore quarterback Kaleb Eleby, who has thrown for 3,115 yards and 21 touchdowns this year. Running back Sean Tyler has 1,004 yards and eight touchdowns and La’Darius Jefferson has 750 yards and 10 scores. Wide receiver Skyy Moore has caught 91 passes for 1,256 yards and 10 touchdowns.
FAMILIAR FOE: The Wolf Pack will see a familiar face on Monday wearing a Western Michigan uniform.
Former Wolf Pack (2016-19) running back Jaxson Kincaide, in his second season at Western Michigan, has carried the ball 67 times this season for 375 yards and three touchdowns. He had 41 yards on seven carries against San Jose State, 70 yards in six carries against Akron and 61 yards on nine carries against Kent State.
Kincaide has 98 carries for 593 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons at Western Michigan. He carried the ball 199 times for Nevada for 894 yards and six touchdowns before entering the transfer portal early in the 2019 season. The 5-foot-9 Kincaide has 1,487 yards and 11 touchdowns in his six-year career.
One of his highlights in a Nevada uniform was a 73-yard touchdown catch on a pass from running back Toa Taua against Portland State in 2018. He also scored on a 6-yard touchdown run against Notre Dame in 2016 and had 99 yards against Buffalo in 2016, 86 yards against Northwestern and 96 yards against Idaho State in 2017.
PACK BASKETBALL GAME CANCELED: The Wolf Pack announced Tuesday morning that its men's basketball game Tuesday night (Dec. 21) against Grand Canyon has been canceled because of COVID protocols within the Grand Canyon program.
This is the third game the Pack has had canceled this month because of COVID protocols. The Pack canceled its games against North Texas on Dec. 4 and Texas-Arlington on Dec.7 because of COVID protocols within its program.
The Pack will now head into its Mountain West opener at San Jose State on Dec. 29 having played just two games in the month of December.
The next Wolf Pack game at Lawlor Events Center will be Jan. 1 against New Mexico.
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