“We’re bringing together a dynamic group of young men,” the rookie head coach said recently. “I can’t wait to talk to you about these young men and what they can do for us.”
All of Polian’s discussions about specific players will have to wait until they sign their National Letter of Intent beginning on Wednesday. The Wolf Pack, according to Rivals.com, has already received verbal commitments from 18 players, with a dozen of them on the defensive side of the ball.
“We have to balance our scholarships a little,” Polian said. “We had far too many on offense.”
One offensive player, quarterback Isaac Dotson of Newport, Wash., gave the Wolf Pack a verbal commitment last fall and changed his mind once head coach Chris Ault announced his resignation on Dec. 28. Dotson has now pledged his allegiance to Washington State.
Polian and his new coaching staff, though, seemingly hasn’t missed a beat on the recruiting trail despite all of the changes at Cashell Fieldhouse.
Polian credits a couple of holdovers from Ault’s staff with keeping the recruiting fires burning -- Ken Wilson and Andy Vaughn. Wilson, who was Ault’s assistant head coach last year, has agreed to become Polian’s Director of Football Operations after signing day. Vaughn is the Pack’s Director of Payer Personnel.
“He’s the unsung hero of the football program right now,” said Polian of Vaughn. “He’s the engine that has kept the recruiting machine running. It’s not been easy with all of the transition we’ve had but he’s done a great job.”
Wilson has remained an on-the-field coach through signing day so he could continue with recruiting. Once Polian announces his new cornerbacks coach after signing day, Wilson will move off the field to Director of Operations.
“He’s been dynamic in recruiting for us,” Polian said of Wilson. “He’s really been fantastic.”
The Wolf Pack recruiting class, according to Rivals.com, is filled with two and three-star players. Polian, though, says not to look at the amount of stars attached to a recruit’s name.
“I respect what all those recruiting (Web) sites do,“ Polian said. “But I don’t care how many stars they put on them. All we care about is whether or not he’s a competitor, he’s physically and mentally tough and can he help us win. That’s it. We don’t care what other people think of them. All we care about is what we think of them.”
Polian said he has had the benefit of a recruiting tool that no other Wolf Pack coach has enjoyed. He went out on the recruiting trail as the head coach of a school that featured a Super Bowl quarterback.
“Every time I go somewhere and say, ‘Nevada,’ they say, ‘Oh, the Niners’ quarterback?’” said Polian, referring to San Francisco 49ers and former Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick. “That’s what they are thinking when I say our name. I say Nevada and they immediately think ‘Colin Kaepernick.’ And we’re fine with that.”
Polian, in fact, encourages it.
“I want to be able to go into their living room and show them a photo of Colin Kaepernick in his Nevada uniform and one of him in his Niners’ uniform and say, ‘This is what can happen to you if you come to Nevada.’”
The Wolf Pack’s verbal commitments so far, according to Scout.com . . .
- Matthew Lyons: 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker from Pierce College
- Kaodi Dike: 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver from Stockton, Calif.
- Tere Calloway: 5-11, 185-pound defensive back fro Seattle, Wash.
- Beau Hershberger: 6-2, 230 linebacker from Granite Bay, Calif.
- Elijah Mitchell: 5-9, 165-pound defensive back from Riverside, Calif.
- Travis Wilson: 6-1, 190-pound wide receiver/defensive back from Cedar Hill, Tx.
- Chad Specht: 6-5, 260-pound offensive lineman from Fresno, Calif.
- Dupree Roberts-Jordan: 6-2, 260-pound defensive tackle from Golden West College
- Julian Brooks: 6-2, 210-pound defensive back from Chatsworth, Calif.
- Cameron Hartsfield: 5-10, 175-pound cornerback from Allen, Tx.
- Alec Moreno: 6-2, 225-pound linebacker from Poway, Calif.
- Patrick Clifford: 6-3, 245-pound tight end from Temecula, Calif.
- Don Jackson: 5-10, 210-pound running back from Iowa Western College
- Dante Mayes: 6-2, 190-pound quarterback from Oakley, Calif.
- Braxton Isaac: 6-5, 285-pound offensive lineman from Foothill College
- Kevin Sundberg: 6-2, 280-pound defensive tackle from Fowler, Calif.
- Ian Seau: 6-3, 250-pound linebacker from Grossmont College
- Ziad Damanhoury: 6-6, 285-pound offensive lineman from La Jolla, Calif.