Camp Notes: The Run Down On The Running Backs
Aug. 21, 2012
ELY, Nev. (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV football team ended its final full day in Ely on Tuesday with a lone afternoon practice. The weather was beautiful most of the day, but showers threatened late in the practice. However, the Rebels were able to complete their work before the skys opened up.
After the practice the Rebels enjoyed ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and a cheesy vegetable dish for dinner.
Tomorrow the Rebels return to Broadbent Park for their final scrimmage. Directly after the scrimmage, UNLV will return to Las Vegas.
THE RUN DOWN ON THE RUNNING BACKS
The running back position has high hopes this season, as the three top rushers from last season return. Beyond that, the Rebels return 98 percent of all rushing production from a year ago.
"I feel real fortunate because I think we have a good group of guys that are very capable," running backs coach Dominic Daste said. "We are pretty deep at the running back position."
Junior Tim Cornett heads up the group. Cornett rushed for a team high 671 yard and seven touchdowns as a sophomore.
"Tim is a returner who is a totally different player from his freshman year to now," Daste said. "He has gotten stronger and faster. He has been a video guy and has improved on the mental part of the game."
Sophomore Dionza Bradford returns to the Rebels after rushing for 615 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman, including three 100 yard plus performances.
"Dionza is coming off of an ankle injury this fall, but I think he will be ok," Daste said. "I'm really excited to see him play. He is a little bit different guy then Tim, where he is more of a bruiser and Tim has more speed. They are both really good backs in their own way."
Bradley Randle added 489 and two touchdowns last year and returns for his junior campaign.
"Bradley is a really good player," Daste said. "What he doesn't have in size, he makes up with heart. His mental game great, he is a really smart kid."
Senior Imari Thompson has been the foundation of the group and looks to continue that role moving forward.
"Imari Thompson is kind of the leader of our group. He is doing a really good job, I'm really happy to have I.T. a part of our group and around everyday."
Rounding out the running backs is senior transfer Eric Johnson. He is set to play his lone season for the scarlet and gray after transferring from the College of the Sequoias in the spring. Johnson also has the athleticism to line up as a slot receiver for the Rebels as well.
ON TO THE UP AND UP
Among the various reasons UNLV football travels the four hours up to Ely each August to stage its two-a-day practices is that it helps the players get used to performing in high altitude, which features lower oxygen levels. In fact, Ely sits at 6,437 feet above sea level, which is a higher elevation than all but one team in the Mountain West (Wyoming in the highest in the entire NCAA FBS at 7,220 feet). A total of eight FBS programs are located in cities with an elevation of at least 4,500 feet and the Rebels regularly play at five of them, including two this season (Colorado State and Utah State). Las Vegas is just over 2,000 feet above sea level.
SCHOOL LOCATION ELEV. 1. Wyoming Laramie, WY 7,220 2. Air Force Colorado Springs 6,010 3. Colorado Boulder, CO 5,328 4. Colorado State Fort Collins, CO 5,003 5. New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 4,957 6. BYU Provo, UT 4,550 7. Utah State Logan, UT 4,534 8. Nevada, Reno Reno, NV 4,505