UNLV Football Transfer Portal Update

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Graphic by Kayla Roberts.

At the close of every college football season, the transfer portal opens up. Prior to April 2021, the NCAA mandated all players who transferred to schools to sit for the following season. Since then, the NCAA changed the mandate to allow student-athletes to transfer once without penalty, and the college football offseason has turned into a free-agent frenzy.

In the 2024 offseason, the UNLV Football team, like every other school in the country, had its roster restructured due to the transfer portal. Here is a list of the Rebel football players who have entered the transfer portal and whom UNLV has recruited from other programs. 

Maiava is Movin’

Jayden Maiava was the 2023 Mountain West Freshman of the Year as a quarterback for the Rebels. Maiava replaced injured Doug Brumfield during the game against Vanderbilt in Week 3 and never looked back. Maiava finished the season with over 3,000 yards through the air and 277 on the ground. The dual-threat quarterback had 17 touchdowns and finished the season leading the Rebels to a bowl game and its first Mountain West Conference Championship appearance.  

Since the transfer portal opened, Maiava has juggled his options on which school he would attend in 2024.

Maiava told Andy Yamashita from the Las Vegas Review-Journal following the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Kansas, “I’ll be back here. We’re going to run it back.”

Days after telling the media his intention to stay at UNLV, Maiava entered the transfer portal and committed to the University of Georgia on Jan. 9. 

A day after committing to the National Champions of two of the last three seasons, he decommitted from Georgia and announced he will commit to USC.

Mckie’n His Way Out

The UNLV Rebel offense was a well-oiled machine in their first season under Barry Odom and Brennan Marion, who put up over 40 points on six occasions in their run to the Mountain West Championship and their first bowl berth in a decade.

In doing this, the offense obtained the well-known nickname, the “Go-Go Offense.” At the same time, Ricky White and Jacob De Jesus received national honors while having record-breaking seasons. There was another piece to that puzzle: Senika Mckie.

Mckie came into the fold under the scarlet and gray banner in the 2022 season and was seen as a key piece to the offense after the turnover from Marcus Arroyo to Odom.

In his college football career, the 6-foot-1 receiver has played two seasons, totaling two touchdowns and 551 receiving yards as a Rebel. 

His role in the Rebels’ offense was a factor in Mckie not putting up the high total yards and end-zone trips as the other receivers, but as a slot pass catcher, he made the most of his 40 career receptions. 

Three days after UNLV’s loss to the Kansas Jayhawks in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Dec. 26, Mckie made it public via a post on his personal account, thanking his teammates, family and fans for their support. 

As of this date, Mckie has not announced a college destination that he has landed at, but wherever he goes, he will have one year left of eligibility as a graduate transfer.

Sluka Slidin’ to UNLV

The UNLV Rebels are set to have a new face at the quarterback position for the 2024 season, and his name is Matthew Sluka. 

Coming to Las Vegas via the transfer portal, Sluka previously hung his hat at the College of the Holy Cross, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) school in Worcester, Massachusetts. 

The senior will be entering his fifth year of eligibility with UNLV and found a lot of success with his previous offense, which did not have the firepower that the Rebels possess. 

College transfer portal reporter Pete Nakos first reported on Jan. 10 that the Rebels would be hosting a visit for the star quarterback in hopes of locking down the center of its titled “Go-Go-Offense.”

Less than a week later on Jan. 16, Sluka publicly announced his commitment and transfer to UNLV after four years with the Holy Cross Crusaders. 

During his time with the Crusaders, Sluka put up big numbers and proved he could lead a high-powered offense. He will now have that opportunity under head coach Barry Odom and offensive coordinator Brennan Marion.

Sluka, sometimes considered a better runner than a passer, has thrown for 5,916 passing yards in his career and 59 touchdowns to accompany just 15 interceptions. In addition to his arm, his legs generated 38 touchdowns and 3,579 yards. 

The most important thing Rebel fans may want to hear now is the final words that echoed from his commitment post: “I’m ready to be a Rebel.”

Longhorns to Rebels

Odom used his SEC ties to pluck an offensive and defensive weapon from the Texas Longhorns.

On the offensive side of the ball the Rebels picked up Casey Cain on Dec. 21. He is a receiver that can be utilized as a deep threat with his 6’3 196 lbs. stature.

Cain has played two seasons for the Longhorns and as a freshman he caught four passes for 108 yards in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Washington.

Cain entered the transfer portal after a 2023 season that he did not see the field a lot in with only one catch for 13 yards for the season.

The former Longhorn receiver is a 3-star transfer recruit and is the No. 82 ranked receiver on the 247Sports’ transfer portal rankings.

On the other side of the ball Odom picked up one of the players he coached on the Arkansas Razorbacks with defensive back Jalen Catalon.

The defensive back played in 21 games for Arkansas from 2019-2022 and accumulated 159 tackles, five interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Catalon transferred following the 2022 season to Texas and proceeded to play a major factor in its win against Alabama, making six tackles including a tackle for loss.

Catalon’s season got cut short due to an injury and decided to enter the transfer portal to join forces with Odom and the Rebels for the 2024 season.

Incoming Transfers

DB Tony Grimes

EDGE Antonio Doyle

WR Casey Cain

DB Jalen Catalon

RB Michael Allen

QB Hajj-Malik Williams

RB Christian Moore

DL Clay Patterson

QB Matthew Sluka

Outgoing Transfers

RB Andrew Wimmer

QB Jayden Maiava

LB Zavier Carter

DB Jalen Frazier

DB Isaiah Hackett

DB Cameron Jenkins

RB Courtney Reese

DB Jordyn Morgan

WR Jordan Jakes

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