After a few weeks of rest, the rebuild will continue for returning UNLV football players.
“We’re really adamant about guys decompressing and taking time off and getting their bodies back, getting their minds back,” Rebels football coach Marcus Arroyo said. “But I also tell them, ‘Don’t plan on having a bunch of time next season. Next season, it’s bowl season. Let’s roll.’”
The Rebels concluded Arroyo’s first traditional season as head coach with a 2-10 record after a disappointing 48-14 road loss Friday to Air Force. UNLV lost six one-score games this season and scored conference wins over New Mexico and Hawaii.
The victories were building blocks for Arroyo, who addressed the media Monday and touched on various components of the upcoming offseason.
Arroyo plans to mine the NCAA’s transfer portal for impact veterans who can contribute immediately while the underclassmen continue to develop. The Rebels’ best player in 2021, inside linebacker Jacoby Windmon, announced Sunday that he’s entering the portal.
Such is the reality of college athletics in 2021
“It goes both ways,” Arroyo said. “He wants to go closer to home, or whatever it may be. Another opportunity that may come. We wish him the best. Those things are going to happen nowadays. It’s just part of it. It’s happening anywhere.
“We get a chance to go in and replace him,” Arroyo added. “It’s a tough loss, but part of our game.”
Depth in general is something Arroyo wants to address throughout the offseason after a rash of injuries in 2021 to key players.
“It’s more of numbers than an exist science on position,” Arroyo said. “The beauty of us being young and inexperienced is we’re going to take guys at every spot. … And we’re maximizing our numbers.”
Changes in recruiting allow the Rebels to sign up to 32 players in their next recruiting cycle: the standard 25 — plus seven to replace players who enter the transfer portal. Arroyo said he hopes to fill half the class during the early signing period, which runs Dec. 15 to Dec. 17.
Those players could enroll early and begin training and taking classes in January.
Eight players in the high school graduating class of 2022 have already announced verbal commitments to UNLV, per 247 Sports. Arroyo and his staff have already resumed recruiting efforts after concluding the season Friday. He also plans to wait until the spring to complete his class.
“It’s imperfect, you’re going to miss some. But you need a good batting average,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo wasn’t sure last year who UNLV’s starting quarterback would be this season, and junior Justin Rogers, sophomore Doug Brumfield and freshman Cameron Friel all started the game behind center for the Rebels.
Ineffective play from Rogers and injuries to Brumfield paved the way for Friel to field a majority of the snaps, and he led UNLV with 1,608 passing yards, six touchdowns and 11 interceptions in nine games.
Brumfield also showed flashes in the three games he played. Arroyo seems content with his quarterbacks as the offseason begins — though he would welcome a veteran transfer if “there was something out there that was an absolute knockdown. You can’t refuse.”
Either way, “the growth there and the maturation that’s going to happen at that position is exciting,” Arroyo said, thanks to the promise that Friel and Brumfield displayed this season.