UNLV

Dismissed by UNLV, ex-‘Bama RB Altee Tenpenny heads to FCS

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Altee Tenpennyparted ways” with Alabama this past January, ultimately moving on to UNLV four months later.  Now, the running back is working on his third football program in the last eight months.

Earlier this month, Tenpenny was dismissed from the Rebels for violating unspecified team rules. Tenpenny would’ve been forced to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but now he won’t even get the chance to restart his collegiate career with UNLV in 2016.

“It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got plenty of guys,” first-year Rebels head coach Tony Sanchez said at the time of the dismissal. “The young guys look fantastic. That had nothing to do with (the dismissal). At the end of the day, rules are the rules.”

Where he will get his chance to start over is at Nicholls State, which al.com is reporting is Tenpenny’s new college football home. Because the Colonels play at the FCS level, Tenpenny would be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Tenpenny was a four-star member of the Tide’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 8 back in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Arkansas; and the No. 53 player overall by Rivals.com. Despite that impressive recruiting profile, Tenpenny didn’t contribute more than a couple of cents during his brief stay in Tuscaloosa.

In two seasons with the Tide, Tenpenny totaled 218 yards on 48 carries in a backfield that’s loaded with more four- and five-star talent than any in the country.

Media hands out preseason MWC honors, picks

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As we roll on toward the start of summer camps and, ultimately, a new season, the Mountain West becomes the latest to unveil its preseason selections.

The media that covers the MWC has tapped defending champion Boise State as its favorite to win the Mountain division, while San Diego State is the favorite in the West.  The Broncos received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes, while the Aztecs garnered 27.  The other three West votes went to Fresno State, which claimed that division in 2014 but fell to Boise in the conference championship game.

Individually, Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins was named as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year; Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell the Defensive POTY; and San Diego State kicker Donny Hageman the Special Teams POTY.

Below is the media’s predicted order of finish in bot divisions, followed by the first-team all-conference squad.

Mountain Division (First-Place Votes), Total Points
1. Boise State (28) 177
2. Utah State (2) 150
3. Colorado State 108
4. Air Force 90
5. Wyoming 64
6. New Mexico 41

West Division
1. San Diego State (27) 177
2. Fresno State (3) 141
3. Nevada 113
4. San José State 91
5. Hawai‘i 70
6. UNLV 38

Defense
DL Eddie Yarbrough* Sr. Wyoming
DL Alex Hansen** Sr. Air Force
DL Kamalei Correa* Jr. Boise State
DL Ian Seau** Sr. Nevada
LB Tanner Vallejo** Jr. Boise State
LB Kyler Fackrell Sr. Utah State
LB Nick Vigil* Jr. Utah State
DB Weston Steelhammer* Jr. Air Force
DB Donte Deayon** Sr. Boise State
DB Darian Thompson* Sr. Boise State
DB Damontae Kazee** Jr. San Diego State

Offense
QB Chuckie Keeton Sr. Utah State
WR Rashard Higgins* Jr. Colorado State
WR Devonte Boyd** So. UNLV
RB Donnel Pumphrey* Jr. San Diego State
RB Marteze Waller** Sr. Fresno State
OL Marcus Henry* Sr. Boise State OL Rees Odhiambo** Sr. Boise State
OL Alex Fifita Sr. Fresno State
OL Ben Clarke Sr. Hawaiʻi
OL Pearce Slater Sr. San Diego State
TE Steven Walker* Sr. Colorado State

Specialists
P Alex Boy** Sr. Nevada
PK Donny Hageman Sr. San Diego State
Ret. Carlos Wiggins Sr. New Mexico

* – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West first team.
** – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West second team.

That whole 2014 UNLV bowl ban? Never mind

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Earlier this offseason the NCAA announced that the UNLV football program would be subject to a postseason ban because of academics.

A couple of months later, forget about that development. Pretend it never happened.

Following up on speculation that surfaced a short time ago, UNLV confirmed in a press release that the Rebels will indeed be eligible for a bowl game following the 2014 regular season. The initial ban came after UNLV’s official Academic Progress Report (APR) score over a four-year period came in at 925 — below the NCAA’s 930 threshold — and after the school’s appeal was denied.

According to the release, however, “adjustments to the scores from the four-year period (2009-10 through 2012-13) resulted in additional points” that brought the football program’s APR up to exactly 930. Those adjustments may have been miscalculations on the part of the NCAA, the Las Vegas Sun initially reported.

Regardless, UNLV will once again be eligible for the 2014 postseason — which could include playing for a conference title.

“Obviously we are excited to be eligible to play in the Mountain West Championship game and a bowl this season,” UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck said in a statement. “Nearly every man in our program stayed together through this — remained a team. That mental toughness and commitment to this school and each other says a lot about the people we have here and I think is going to serve us well on the field. Academics have always been, and will continue to be, a priority for us.”

The “miscalculations” that led to eventual “adjustments” didn’t come without unintended “consequences” for Hauck and his program.

Because of the bowl ban, players were free to transfer without sitting out a season; two took advantage of that stipulation. It’s unclear if either — offensive lineman Cameron Jefferson, running back Adonis Smith — would be permitted to return after signing financial aid agreements with Arkansas and Arizona, respectively, or if either would even want to return to Sin City.

Additionally, UNLV scheduled a 13th regular-season game against Hawaii on the islands to make up for the lack of a postseason appearance. Now, the Rebels will be forced to go 7-6 instead of 6-6 in order to become bowl eligible.

‘Zona to add another transfer RB, this one from UNLV

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Another day, another potential weapon added to Rich Rodriguez’s stable of running backs.

Monday, former Illinois back Dami Ayoola announced that he has committed to continuing his FBS career in 2015 with the Wildcats after spending 2014 in the JUCO ranks.  A day later, former UNLV and Northwestern running back Adonis Smith confirmed to the Arizona Daily Star that he will play for the Wildcats as well.

Unlike Ayoola, however, Smith is expected to be granted immediate eligibility and play in 2014.

“I just felt the offense is a great offense,” Smith told the Daily Star. “I think Coach Rodriguez is a great coach. I’ve been watching him for years. It all just felt like a great fit.”

Smith was a three-star member of Northwestern’s 2010 recruiting class, totaling 462 rushing yards (4.3 ypc), nine receptions and three rushing TD’s his first two seasons in Evanston. He abruptly transferred from the Wildcats in February of 2012 and ultimately landed at UNLV less than a month later.

After sitting out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he rushed for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Rebels in 2013. Why he left UNLV and transferred to a third school is unclear.

One UNLV back leaves, another suspended

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UNLV’s backfield depth chart will have a decidedly different look when the Rebels take the field Saturday against Air Force.

In a press release, UNLV announced Monday that running back Dionza Bradford has again left the football matters to tend to personal matters back in his home state of California.  Bradford had left the team during spring practice for the same unspecified reasons but returned for the start of the season.

“Dionza needs to go back home to California and tend to some personal business,” head coach Bobby Hauck.

This season, Bradford had rushed seven times for 23 yards, and also had one receptions for 15 yards.  Last season, Bradford was second on the team in rushing with 615 yards.

In addition to the news regarding Bradford, Hauck also announced that fullback Connor Afoa has been suspended for this weekend’s Mountain West opener for violating team rules.  Unlike what normally happens in these suspension situations, Hauck laid out in very plain language what the freshman did to earn the one-game vacation.

“Connor missed class last week and we don’t allow that in our program,” Hauck said.