RENO, Nev. (AP) - Nevada coach Chris Ault and his assistants are taking advantage of a bye week to hit the recruiting trail and they're spending more time than usual close to home.
Ault said area high school coaches are calling northern Nevada's 2008-09 class one of the most talented in memory, with at least 10 potential Division I players.
"The (high school) coaches are recommending more players to us this year," said Ault, who by NCAA rules cannot comment specifically on recruitable athletes. "There seems to be a few more players in the area."
Ken Dalton, who has coached at McQueen since it opened in 1982 and coached at North Tahoe before that, has at least four of those prospects.
"There are actually more Division I prospects than I have seen in a long time in Northern Nevada," he said. "It's a great senior class. Everybody has a pretty good player or two."
The Wolf Pack, which has a bye this week and faces UNLV in Las Vegas on Sept. 27, has only 15 seniors on its 102-man roster.
That means they'll have about 18 scholarships awarded instead of the average of about 22 or 23. The NCAA-mandated maximum in a season is 25.
Three of the current seniors are starters on the offensive line - center Josh Catapano and guards Dominic Green and Greg Hall. Ault said that's one position that stands out as the greatest need it would be the offensive line.
The Wolf Pack also will need to replace two senior receivers, Marko Mitchell and Mike McCoy. On defense, there are only four senior starters - tackle Mundrae Clifton, safety Uche Anyanwu and linebackers Jerome Johnson and Joshua Mauga.
Two of those 18 scholarship offers have already been extended to Hug High receiver Courtney Gardner and safety Duke Williams. Both have given nonbinding verbal commitments to Nevada.
At least one other scholarship offer has been made to Bishop Manogue tight end Stephen Jeffers.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Jeffers said Nevada and SMU have offered scholarships, and the other schools he's had contact with so far include UNLV, Oregon State, Washington and Fresno State. He said he wants to focus solely on his senior season at Manogue and he won't make a decision until after that, but said Nevada is in the running.
"I'm a Miner right now. That's my focus," he said at Thursday's practice. "I'm definitely interested (in Nevada). It's my hometown. They've got a good program. I was in their camp this summer. It was a lot of fun."
One of Jeffers' teammates, running back Josh Dupree, is also talking to Nevada and a few other schools, including Oregon State, Utah State, Utah and Clemson. He said he hasn't had any offers yet, which could be attributed in part the five games he missed last season with a hyper-extended toe.
"I would love to (play at Nevada)," said the 5-9, 175-pound Dupree. "It's a great program and they have great coaches."
McQueen's prospects include wide receiver/linebacker Kyle Van Noy, offensive lineman Karrington Armstrong, tight end Mike LaGrone, running back/safety Tyler York, kicker Anthony Martinez and center Darin Gooch.
Dalton said Van Noy has had more than 15 Division I scholarship offers and Armstrong is leaning toward Oregon. Of the others on his team, York is getting the most interest from the Pack.
Hug coach Rollins Stallworth has said he thinks linebacker Willie Topou will be a Division I talent, which could give the Pack three Hawks.
Other Northern Nevadans who could stay home to play college football include Battle Mountain's Randy Verbeck, a 6-7, 315-pound offensive lineman who is receiving interest from Nevada, Oregon and Washington; and Truckee's Ryan Macken.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)