With the first of two national signing days exactly one week away, all but two spots in Wolf Pack's 2019 class are taken. The only question remaining is which players will slot into those spots.
Like he does every year, Nevada head coach Jay Norvell has a series of names scribbled on a pad, with the prospect he would most like to sign at the top of the list. It's closing time for the Wolf Pack in securing those final few pledges, with Nevada adding two commitments already this week.
“Balance," Norvell said of the desired composition of his 2019 class. "The balance in this class is the most important for us.”
Nevada has 15 known commitments in its 2019 class, which includes (see full write-ups on each player here):
* Three offensive linemen: Blake Baughman, Zac Welch, Trey Price
* Two linebackers: Jalen Williams, JaVanz Dornners
* Two safeties: Avery Carrington, Jayce Godley, Dominic Tatum
* Two cornerbacks: Kacee Williams, Cameron Stephens
* Two wide receivers: Justin Lockhart, Melquan Stovall
* One defensive lineman: Logan Arnold
* One tight end: Henry Ikahihifo
* One quarterback: Austin Kirksey
Now, you might notice there are only 14 players listed above. The Wolf Pack got a commitment from a still-unknown Bay Area defensive player Tuesday, one day after it received a pledge from a American River College offensive lineman Trey Price.
Norvell said during his pre-bowl press conference last week the four spots open at the time would go to an offensive lineman, a linebacker, a safety and one wild card, a spot that could potentially go to Bishop Manogue running back Peyton Dixon, who also has offers from Fresno State, Wyoming, UNLV and a handful of FCS schools (Dixon was on campus over the weekend). The offensive line spot went to American River College's Trey Price, who committed Monday, and the linebacker spot to Bay Area linebacker JaVanz Dornners, who committed Tuesday.
Norvell is also holding open the option of not filling all of his scholarship spots during next Wednesday's early signing period.
"The other part of that is it’s so hard to have a crystal ball, but we’d really love to have a scholarship or two available for transfer players," Norvell said. "We’ll see how that goes. We’re really not looking for junior-college kids this year. Our first year we felt like we had to. Last year we felt like we had to a little bit. We don’t feel like we need to. We want to bring in great young high school players so we can develop them. Really excited about that."
Only one of the Wolf Pack's commitments in the class is a junior-college transfer, that being Price, the offensive linemen who has three years of eligibility remaining. The others are all high school products. While Nevada's class will be balanced (and smaller after the Wolf Pack took the maximum of 25 players in each of Norvell's first two classes), the Wolf Pack coach said building in the trenches remains preeminent.
"We’re going to take three linemen, three offensive linemen for the Union," Norvell said. "You can never have enough good linemen. I’ve spent 30 years coaching and when I became a head coach I love defensive linemen more than any other position because when you have good defensive linemen and play good run defense you’ll always have a chance to win. The same with offensive linemen. We’re always looking to add to those groups. Probably would not turn down a good offensive or defensive lineman even here at the end of recruiting, but we do have to make some decisions."
247 Sports ranks the Wolf Pack's 2019 class 93rd in the nation and fifth out of 12 Mountain West teams. The class includes Kirksey, the quarterback who was the first commitment in the class in June. The Georgia native threw for 2,257 yard with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. Kirksey will almost certainly redshirt in 2019, but somebody must replace Ty Gangi, who has started the majority of the last 2.5 seasons for Nevada.
“Obviously we have to replace Ty, our leader on offense, and that’s not easy to do because it’s a combination of physical ability and leadership," Norvell said. "That’s probably the biggest thing in this offseason is we have to replace the leadership of our football team, and that comes from the day in and day out showing dependability to your teammates and coaches that you can be trusted. That’s what our seniors have done. They were there for their teammates and they proved it through the offseason and the summer and throughout the fall. They were there every day doing their job and being great examples.”