unlv football:

Redshirt freshman Nick Sherry named UNLV starting quarterback

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry directs his teammates during the Rebels spring football game Friday, April 20, 2012.

Published Tue, Aug 21, 2012 (5:45 p.m.)

Updated Tue, Aug 21, 2012 (6:33 p.m.)

ELY — UNLV quarterbacks only passed for 1,315 yards and 10 touchdowns last year in 12 games to rank 118th out of 120 Division I teams in passing yards.

Strong-armed redshirt freshman Nick Sherry will get his chance to reverse that trend.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Sherry was named the Rebels’ starter Tuesday by coach Bobby Hauck for the Aug. 30 season opener against visiting Minnesota at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Sherry, who passed for 2,700 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2010 as a senior at Casa Grande High in Petaluma, Calif., had taken a majority of the snaps with the first-team during UNLV’s 11-day training camp in Ely.

Now, he’ll be under center for the season opener next week, beating out last year’s starter, Caleb Herring. The junior Herring is the backup quarterback and senior Sean Reilly is the third-stringer.

Sherry is confident he can be the difference-maker for UNLV’s under-achieving passing attack.

“I’m going to take chances. I’m going to throw the deep ball,” he said. “I’m going to throw the ball down the field. I’m going to extend the defense and make them respect the deep ball and respect the deep routes.”

For coaches, starting freshmen is a calculated risk, but Sherry’s ability and potential were simply too impressive for Hauck to keep on the bench.

Click to enlarge photo

UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry seen March 6, 2012.

“He keeps improving. He has a big arm,” Hauck said. “He has improved his understanding of what it will take to get the job done. We feel he gives us a chance to be competitive against Minnesota. He has a tremendous upside. Let’s hope some of that potential gets realized soon.”

Herring passed for 1,004 yards and eight touchdown last year in starting nine games. Reilly completed 19-of-39 passes for 189 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Hauck said both quarterbacks were professional when learning they didn’t win the job.

“Everyone is excited for (Nick),” Hauck said. “The other two guys, Sean and Caleb, they are winners, and handled things with class and like adults.”

Sherry, who was the nation’s No. 86-rated quarterback out of high school by Scout.com, originally committed to Colorado in 2010. But when Colorado went through a coaching change, Hauck was able to find what turned out being the UNLV quarterback of the future.

Sherry spent last year learning the offense and the ins and outs of college football while redshirting.

“I’m going to go out there and work hard every day,” Sherry said. “(Being named the starter) does gives me a little excitement heading into the next couple of weeks, the next game.”

Sherry is the third freshman quarterback in school history to start a season opener. Travis Dixon was under center in 2007 when UNLV beat Utah State, and Jon Denton got the nod in 1996 at Tennessee.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or ray.brewer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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