In 2015 Keith Whitely led a potent UNLV rushing attack with 711 yards. Less than a month before the 2016 season he was dismissed from the team and his departure didn’t even make a ripple in Las Vegas.
No one cared. One of the most productive players for UNLV was gone and there was no media coverage and a lot of fan apathy.
UNLV football lives in anonymity in its own city, with lots of losses and no star players. But now the Rebels have a marketable player at the most recognizable position. UNLV has Armani Rogers.
He hasn’t taken a snap for UNLV, but Tony Sanchez will likely name the redshirt freshman his starting quarterback for the 2017 season. Now it is time to make him the face of the program.
UNLV football doesn’t get many opportunities to have a star. But Armani Rogers can have name recognition.
There’s nothing better for fan excitement than a star quarterback. But everyone has to know UNLV has a star quarterback. Everyone needs to know Armani Rogers is the next Randall Cunningham.
And on the field it won’t take much for Rogers to be considered an upgrade. Over the last seven seasons only one UNLV quarterback has completed over 60 percent of his passes. Last season the trio of Johnny Stanton, Dalton Sneed and Kurt Palandech combined to complete 47 percent of passes.
Despite the worst quarterback play in the Mountain West, UNLV still put up 32 points per game. That came with the wide receiver position being completed depleted by injuries leading to a defensive back and quarterback playing wide receiver to end the season.
It was the combination of the offensive line and running backs – that averaged 5.6 yards per carry – that kept the offense rolling. That rushing attack plus healthy receivers is reason to salivate at just how good this offense could be with Armani Rogers running the show.
He’ll have an offensive line returning four starters, a wide receiver group that will rival any group in the conference led by Devonte Boyd and a running game with two 600-plus yards rushers that averaged over five yards per carry.
Rogers will have all the tools to impress in his Rebel debut. UNLV needs to make sure everyone knows that.
The one drawback will be the wins. Quarterbacks are associated with wins, and as good as Rogers is, UNLV might not win a lot this season.
The Rebel defense may be a problem again in 2017. UNLV ranked in the bottom 15 in the country in defensive efficiency last season. What could be good news or bad news is that nearly the whole defense will be new.
What determines UNLV’s win-loss record in 2017 likely won’t be Rogers. It’ll be up to the defense.
Regardless of the win total in 2017, Rogers should provide promise for the future. Even if the defense struggles and UNLV loses shootout after shootout, the future with Rogers will look bright.
But Las Vegas needs to know. UNLV has a quarterback worth watching in Armani Rogers.