Mountain West notes: Pack recruiting class ranked low

Mackay Stadium (Photo: Nevada Athletics)

Mackay Stadium (Photo: Nevada Athletics)

The Nevada Wolf Pack football team’s 2022 recruiting class isn’t getting a whole lot of respect.
Two of the leading college football recruiting web sites (, both rank the Wolf Pack’s 2022 class 11th out of the 12 Mountain West schools, ahead of only Hawaii.
Nevada and Hawaii hired new head coaches (Nevada’s Ken Wilson and Hawaii’s Timmy Chang) since the end of the 2021 season. Wilson was hired in early December while Chang wasn’t hired until two weeks ago. Each school will officially announce their 2022 recruiting classes on Wednesday.
Boise State and San Diego State have the top two recruiting classes in the Mountain West, according to both and Fresno State is third according to while Utah State is third on
Former Wolf Pack head coach Jay Norvell’s first class at Colorado State is ranked sixth in the Mountain West by rivals and fifth by 247sports. Norvell, though, fortified his class by getting commitments from players he originally recruited as the Wolf Pack’s coach during the 2021 season. UNLV’s class is 10th on rivals and eighth on 247sports.
The Wolf Pack and Wilson already announced the signing of linebackers Stone Combs, Chris Smalley (Douglas High) and KeeKee McQueen and wide receiver Keenan Speer-Johnson back in December at the start of the early-signing period.
The rest of the class announced on Wednesday is expected to include defensive backs Cameron Sampson (Sacramento), wide receiver Elijah Barclay (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), linebackers Jonathan Thomas (Valencia, Calif.) and Ike Nnakenyi (Henderson), offensive linemen Zac Welch (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) and Zenin Rudnick (San Antonio), quarterback A.J. Bianco (Honolulu), defensive linemen Jonathan Maldonado (Arcadia, Calif.), Malaki Ta’ase (Tucson) and Amier Boyd (Phoenix) and tight end Jacob Munro (Costa Mesa, Calif.).
The Wolf Pack has also signed transfer players William Green (Liberty defensive lineman), Marcel Walker (Southern Connecticut wide receiver), Cole Feinauer (Colorado State offensive lineman), Joey Capra (San Diego State offensive lineman), Darion Green-Warren (Michigan cornerback), Brian Casteel (Arizona wide receiver) and four players from Oregon (running back Cross Patton, offensive lineman Kai Arneson, tight end Cooper Shults and wide receiver Spencer Curtis). Quarterback Baylor Horning, who graduated from Reed High and spent the last two years at San Diego State, is expected to join the Wolf Pack roster as a walk-on.

NEVADA-COLORADO STATE RECRUITING RIVALRY: Norvell persuaded six players that he first recruited as the Wolf Pack’s coach to sign with Colorado State (wide receivers Mekhi Fox, Justus Ross-Simmons and Louis Brown as well as safety Corey Lambert, quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi and offensive lineman Aaron Karas).
Norvell also grabbed two members of the 2021 Wolf Pack recruiting class for his Rams: quarterback Clay Millen and offensive lineman Trevyn Heil.
The Wolf Pack, though, did out-recruit Colorado State for two players (Cameron Sampson and Ike Nnakenyi). Sampson also received offers from Fresno State, Colorado State and New Mexico in the Mountain West while Nnakenyi received offers from Colorado State and UNLV.

BEST PACK CLASS EVER: The Wolf Pack’s 2006 class under head coach Chris Ault is widely considered the best group of recruits in school history. It must be noted that none of the 2006 players were rated higher than a three-star recruit by
The 2006 class was led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, defensive end Dontay Moch, running back Vai Taua and tight end Virgil Green. Taua is now the Wolf Pack’s assistant head coach and running backs coach.
The 2006 class also included standout players John Bender, Kevin Grimes, Jonathan Amaya, Marko Mitchell, Kevin Basped, Ryan Coulson and Mike Gallett as well as Mundrae Clifton, Jared Silva-Purcell, Jerome Johnson, Adam Liranzo, Courtney Randall, Chris Wellington and Brandon Fragger.
Mitchell was picked in the seventh round of the NFL draft by Washington in 2009, Kaepernick was taken by San Francisco in the second round in 2011, Moch was picked by Denver in the third round in 2011 and Green was a seventh-round pick by Denver in 2011.
The 2006 class was the heart and soul of the Wolf Pack 2010 team that finished 13-1 overall, tied for first in the Western Athletic Conference and was ranked No. 11 in the nation.

SENIOR BOWL ON SATURDAY: The Wolf Pack will have three players (quarterback Carson Strong, wide receiver Romeo Doubs and tight end Cole Turner) in the Senior Bowl on Saturday in Mobile, Ala.
Strong, Doubs and Turner are the first Nevada players in the Senior Bowl since offensive lineman Austin Corbett in 2018. Corbett, a Reed High graduate, will play in the Super Bowl for the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 13.
Other Pack players to participate in the Senior Bowl are offensive lineman Joel Bitonio (2014), defensive back Duke Williams (2013), linebacker James-Michael Johnson (2012), Kaepernick (2011), linebacker DeShone Myles (1998) and quarterback John Dutton (1998).
Every Pack player to play in the Senior Bowl has been drafted into the NFL.
Corbett was picked by Cleveland (second round) in 2018, Bitonio was picked by Cleveland (second round) in 2014, Buffalo grabbed Williams in the fourth round in 2013, Johnson went to Cleveland in the fourth round in 2012, Kaepernick was taken in the second round by San Francisco, Myles was picked by Seattle in the fourth round in 1998 and Dutton went to Miami in the sixth round in 1998.
Strong, Doubs and Turner will be joined at the Senior Bowl by five other Mountain West players: San Diego State defensive end Cameron Thomas and tight end Daniel Bellinger, Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma, Colorado State tight end Trey McBride and Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir.

SEWELL IN EAST-WEST SHRINE BOWL: The East-West Shrine Bowl, which was played in the Bay area from 1925-2005 (except 1942 in New Orleans), will be played Thursday night (5 p.m.) in Las Vegas.
Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe was the Offensive Most Valuable Player in the 2007 game, throwing two touchdown passes.
This year’s game will include former Wolf Pack player Nephi Sewell. Sewell played in 2017 and 2018 for the Wolf Pack as a defensive back and had 108 tackles and two interceptions in 22 games. Sewell played the last three seasons (2019-21) for Utah as a linebacker and had 143 tackles and three interceptions in 21 games. He returned a fumble for a touchdown in 2020.
There will be six Mountain West players in this year’s East-West Shrine Bowl: San Jose State tight end Derrick Deese and offensive lineman Jack Snyder, Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers, San Diego state offensive lineman Zach Thomas, Hawaii wide receiver Calvin Turner and Colorado State punter Ryan Stonehouse.

HAMILTON ERUPTS: UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton scored 42 points in an 88-74 upset victory over Colorado State last Friday.
Hamilton is one of just five players in college basketball this season to score 42 or more points in a game. The 6-foot-4 guard, now in his fourth season, leads the Mountain West in scoring (20.8). He averaged 17.9 last year and 16 in 2019-20.
Hamilton, who will face the Nevada Wolf Pack on Tuesday night in Las Vegas, has scored 30 or more points in three of his last four games and leads the Mountain West this season with four 30-point games. There have been 20 30-point performances in the Mountain West this season. Colorado State’s David Roddy, with two, is the only other Mountain West player other than Hamilton with more than one 30-point game. Nevada’s Grant Sherfield has one.
Hamilton’s only other 30-point game before this season was 35 points against New Mexico on Jan. 18, 2020.


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