Las Vegas is not only the fastest growing town in the United States, it is perhaps the fastest growing football town. It is a must stop for any college football coach who recruits nationally.
In the 1970s and 1980s, I didn't even go to Las Vegas to evaluate recruits. In those days, it was rare for more than one All-America prospect to come out of the entire state of Nevada.
No longer. There are 22 high schools in the Las Vegas area and there are several big-time recruits, including at least two top 100 players--6-5, 255-pound defensive end Justin Chaisson, who is committed to Oklahoma, and 6-4, 235-pound defensive end Keenan Graham, who has been offered by 33 schools, including Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, UCLA, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
I think Graham has more potential than Chaisson. He is a very good basketball player. Once he gives up basketball to concentrate on football, he will rate an edge. He is relentless and possesses a lot of speed off the corner.
Other Las Vegas products who figure to attract a lot of Division I attention are 6-2, 240-pound linebacker T.J. Alofipo; 6-3, 220-pound linebacker Liloa Nobriga, who has been offered by Nevada-Las Vegas; 5-9, 191-pound running back Akil Sharp, who has been offered by Stanford, California and other West Coast schools; and 6-0, 215-pound linebacker Damien Proby, who has been offered by Northwestern.
Also 6-3, 310-pound offensive lineman J.T. Tofaeono; 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman Alanzi Langstaff, a diamond in the rough who missed his junior year because of a knee injury; 6-0, 160-pound cornerback Reese Campbell; and 6-0, 175-pound Torin Harris, who is the best cornerback in the state.
Another standout is 6-4, 215-pound wide receiver/defensive end Kyle Van Noy of Reno, an outstanding 400-meter runner who has been offered by California and Nevada-Las Vegas.
Nevada is one of the last frontiers for football talent that many colleges still don't cultivate, like Hawaii. Several players don't have scholarship offers because not a lot of college coaches bother to recruit in the state. I recall one coach who visited Las Vegas only to gamble for two days.
Personally, I like kids who don't have any offers. I like writing about them. Maybe I can help them to get offers. For example, wide receiver Jamal Patterson of McDonough, Georgia, didn't have any offers after signing day last February.
I watched the 6-3, 205-pounder on film and felt he had enormous potential. He is one of his state's leading hurdlers. He averaged 20 yards per reception last season. And he has a 4.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
On my travels, I mentioned his name to several coaches, insisting that he was good enough to attract offers. I said he was one of the best wide receivers I had seen. Once they evaluated his film, nearly every school offered a scholarship. Today, he has more than 30 offers, including Illinois, Michigan and Notre Dame.