UNLV football hosted a spring showcase at Allegiant Stadium, free and open to the public, where they practiced and the team went against each other in scrimmage-like scenarios.
This was the first spring showcase under head coach Marcus Arroyo, after COVID impacted the last two spring practices. The Rebels had the chance to show the public what they have been working on in spring for the first time during the five week spring practice schedule.
“This is as good as it gets, as far as our opportunity to get in front of our people and have fans out and have recruits out,” Arroyo said. “This is huge and this is a huge step for us. We take it seriously and this was awesome. I told (the team) how fun this is and what it’s about.”
The showcase started with the team practicing with their respective position groups and units. The final hour-plus of the showcase featured the team competing against each other in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 scenarios.
Quarterbacks Harrison Bailey and Doug Brumfield took most of the snaps with Cameron Friel not participating due to precautionary reasons.
With the quarterback competition continuing on, and the added wrinkles of Brumfield’s return and Friel’s absence, there was no indication that one had an advantage over the other. Arroyo said he and his staff will look over the tape, and will then have a better evaluation where everyone is.
“There’ll be some things that we really liked, some things we want to hone up before we get out here in the next three more practices, so it’d be really good to clean up,” Arroyo said.
Bailey and Brumfield each threw a touchdown pass on the 11-on-11 portions of the showcase, but they also each threw an interception, including Bailey in a 2-minute scenario late in the showcase.
One of the highlights of the showcase was the wide receiver depth. Bailey praised the receiver depth as several different receivers worked with the first team offense. The depth at that position will be key as the Rebels look to develop the big plays on offense.
“It’s a lot more explosive,” Brumfield said of the talent of the wide receivers. “We’ve got K1 (Kyle Williams), Ricky (White), Senika (McKie), Jeff (Weimer), Zyell Griffin. We got all these guys that just go out there and run hard and get 100% each play so it’s a great room.”
Brumfield made his return to the program after taking his name out of the transfer portal last week. He cited a “miscommunication” between him and the coaching staff regarding his decision to step away from the program.
“It’s been a real emotional roller coaster but I’m glad those days are over and I’m glad I’m stable and ready to get with this team and get the work….I love my teammates,” Brumfield said. “I really understand that the coaching staff now, understand what their plan is and what they have for us. I really just trust the process.”
Arroyo praised Brumfield’s ability to gain yards with his feet, which adds an extra element to the offense. Bailey, a transfer himself, said he could see part of the reason why Brumfield stepped back.
While the entire situation was something Bailey had not seen before, his main goal, along with the rest of the quarterbacks, is to make each other better.
We’re all really good friends. We all want what’s best for one another, we all push each other,” Bailey said. “We all motivate each other every day…We try to help each other.”
The Rebel defense made its presence felt. Linebacker Austin Ajiake and defensive back Bryce Jackson each had an interception, and defensive back Jerrae Williams blocked a field goal, and had a kickoff return for a touchdown.
“I’m glad it’s starting to show, we still have a lot of work to do,” Ajiake said. “ But, we’ve been putting a lot of work in since the end of the season last year and it just feels good to be back here with the crowd and with the community around and you know, I’m just happy to be back.”
While this was not a traditional spring scrimmage game with the team playing 11-on-11 for the entirety of the day, the team had the opportunity to get over a game’s worth of reps with the first and second units on offense, and in different scenarios like a two-minute drill and red zone scoring chances.
The Rebels have three spring practices remaining, with April 30 being the last practice before fall camp begins in early August.
In the final three practices, Arroyo said the team will focus on looking through Saturday’s film to determine what they need to work on in the final week and over summer.
Arroyo was happy to see the team remain disciplined during the showcase, with a limited number of penalties called. He also liked seeing the communication between everyone, it was a goal of his to get the entire team to take on a leadership role of communicating amongst each other about the standards and what is expected of them. In their second spring together, he sees his team embracing that challenge and leading that cause.
“It’s got to become from coach fed to player led, and that’s what we really tried to instill in these guys,” Arroyo said. “It’s them taking control of their locker room and their practice and their standards and their habits. And I’ve been really proud about that.”