Pack football inks 24 recruits on National Signing Day
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – Chris Ault didn’t waste any time in setting some lofty goals for the newest Nevada Wolf Pack football players Wednesday afternoon.
“This recruiting class is special,” the Nevada coach said in announcing the Wolf Pack 2010 recruiting class at Legacy Hall. “This is a class that will win some championships.”
Ault wasn’t shy about heaping praise on the new Pack players.
“This class has the potential to be the best we’ve ever brought in here,” Ault said.
The Wolf Pack unveiled 24 recruits, bringing the total number of new Pack players since the end of the 2009 season to 28. Four players signed with the Pack in January as junior college transfers and have already enrolled in classes at Nevada.
The Wolf Pack added a dozen linemen, six each on the offensive and defensive lines.
“The lines were the key,” Ault said. “And the center position, to be honest, was a top priority.”
Ault said junior college transfer (Bakersfield College) Jordan Mudge, who signed in January, is expected to compete for the starting center job this season. The Pack lost senior starting center Kenneth Ackerman after the 2009 season.
“Mudge has to be a guy who comes in and competes,” Ault said. “He’s a big (6-foot-3, 315 pounds) old horse.”
The Pack, which also loses senior offfensive tackle Alonzo Durham off last year’s team, added six high school seniors for the offensive line in Avery Poates (6-4, 297) of Rancho Verde High in Moreno Valley, Calif., Sabastian Tretola (6-4, 290) of Cajon High in San Bernardino, Calif., Mike Mitchell (6-4, 287) of Crespi High in Santa Monica, Calif., Matt Galas (6-1, 2730) of Central Catholic High in Modesto, Calif., and two Northern Nevadans – Reed’s Kyle Roberts (6-6, 275) and Bishop Manogue’s Connor Talbott (6-3, 250).
“We’ve created some nice competition there,” Ault said.
Galas, one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in California, is a center. He was recently named to the Modesto Bee’s Stanislaus District All-Decade football team.
Poates chose Nevada over UTEP, New Mexico and San Diego State.
Roberts and Talbott both took part in the Wolf Pack’s camp last summer.
“Roberts was the best offensive lineman we saw in camp and we have over 1,700 kids in that camp,” Ault said. “Talbott was one of the best long snappers we’ve ever seen.”
The Pack signed four high school seniors and two junior college transfers for the defensive line: Jordan Hanson (6-2, 275) of Loyola High of Los Angeles, Brock Hekking (6-4, 245) of Vacaville (Calif.) High, Taylor George (6-4, 256) of Redwood High of Visalia, Calif., Kyle Papendorf (6-4, 255) of Buchanon High of Clovis, Calif., Willie Faataualofa (6-3, 292) of Delta College (Stockton, Calif.) and Devon Rosa (6-4, 255) of Glendale College in Pacoima, Calif.
Ault said Faataualofa will have a chance to contribute right away.
“We expect Willie F to be a force for us,” Ault said.
Papendorf is also a top wrestler in California and has wrestled Galas three times, winning twice, Ault said.
Papendorf dislocated his right kneecap on Jan. 13 but, Ault said, has continued to wrestle. “He’s OK,” Ault said. “Kids today just put on a Band-Aid and keep going.”
Ault said a position switch might be in store for Papendorf.
“He might end up on the offensive side of the ball,” Ault said.
There was no question, however, who is considered the jewel of this Pack recruiting class. Ault couldn’t hide his enthusiasm over the signing of his newest quarterback, Cody Fajardo of Servite High in Anaheim, Calif.
Fajardo chose the Pack over Nebraska (though he never took a recruiting trip there), San Jose State, Arizona and UNLV. The 6-2 right-hander passed for 2,380 yards and 20 touchdowns and also rushed for 1,085 yards and eight touchdowns this season in leading Servite to a Division II state title. He was also one of eight high school quarterbacks featured in the nationally syndicated television show, “The Ride” this past season.
“He is the leader of this recruiting class,” Ault said.
Ault said the recruitment of Fajardo heated up in the last month. “We were very, very fortunate,” Ault said. “Cody is a special player, a special athlete. He’s what you got to have in the Pistol offense.”
Ault said he expects Fajardo, who ran a spread type of offense similar to the Pistol at Servite, to compete for the starting quarterback job in 2011. Starter Colin Kaepernick will be a senior this year.
“He’ll be right there in the mix,” Ault said.
The Wolf Pack has also added four wide receivers: Lemar Durant (6-2, 213) of Centennial High in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), Aaron Bradley (6-1, 180) of Gahr High in Cerritos, Calif., Necho Beard (6-0, 203) of Rancho Verde High in Moreno Valley, Calif., and Rishard Matthews (6-2, 213) of Bakersfield College.
Durant, who ended up playing quarterback for most of this season and led his team to its first championship in four decades, first caught the Pack’s eye at the Nevada camp last summer.
“He’s the type of guy, the first day you see him you want to offer him a scholarship,” Ault said. “You know, we don’t recruit Canada. If we wouldn’t have seen him at our camp, we wouldn’t have recruited him.”
Matthews originally committed to Oregon out of high school (Santa Ana, Calif.) but failed to qualify academically. “We’ve been after him for two years,” Ault said.
The Pack, who will lose tight end Junior Puloka off this year’s team, signed two tight ends in Jeremiah Green (6-2, 227) of Visialia, Calif., from the College of the Sequoias as well as DeAndre Roberts (6-4, 244) of Sylmar (Calif.) High. Green is the brother of current Pack tight end Virgil Green.
“The one tight end we had to have was DeAndre Roberts,” Ault said. “Our coaches went to see him play basketball the other night and they called me and said, ‘He could play basketball for (Nevada).’ He’s that type of athlete.”
The Pack also added four defensive backs: Aaron Brown (6-0, 184) of Roosevelt High in Corona, Calif., Dean Faddis (6-0, 185) of Palomar College (Ramona, Calif.), Charles Garrett (5-11, 193) of Dorsey High in Los Angeles and Evan Favors (6-0, 175) of Monterrey Trail High in Elk Grove, Calif. Those four are in addition to Palomar safety Chris Boudreaux, who signed in December.
“Those defensive backs have the ball skills that we need,” said Ault, who added that Faddis could move to corner.
The Pack also signed linebacker Luke Arciniega of Spanish Springs High.
Ault said all three local recruits (Arciniega, Talbott, Roberts) “will make their mark in Wolf Pack football. No question, they will be difference makers by the time they are ready to play.”