Aaron Holloway was talking with most of the UNLV football coaching staff via video conference on Sunday when he delivered the news.
Holloway, a wide receiver from Legacy High in North Las Vegas, motioned for his family and prep coaches to join him on the screen. Soon, everyone revealed what they were wearing — UNLV scarlet and gray. Holloway verbally committed to the hometown university.
“They didn’t know he was going to commit,” Legacy coach John Isola said.
UNLV has built a 13-player recruiting class for the class of 2021 in coach Marcus Arroyo’s first full recruiting cycle, and there’s still more than four months until the December early-signing day. None of the recruits, arguably, is as important as the homegrown Holloway, who became the first local scholarship player to commit to Arroyo in about eight months on the job. (Adam Plant, a Bishop Gorman product, transferred from TCU.)
Holloway, who had 65 catches for 1,462 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019, drew heavy recruiting interest in the spring with more than double-digit scholarship offers. Yet, the appeal of being part of the hometown university couldn’t be ignored.
The program is set to play at the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium near the Strip and last fall moved into an on-campus training facility with all of the bells and whistles. They needed a local recruit to share the enthusiasm, which they found in Holloway.
He posted #HomeHero on Twitter.
“I have been here my whole life. I didn’t need to leave to make my dreams come true,” Holloway said.
All it takes is for one local recruit to thrive at UNLV and others will follow suit. Maybe that started last season when Kenyon Oblad of Liberty High passed for more than 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman, or how Gorman product Julio Garcia has worked himself into one of the Mountain West’s best linemen.
The opportunity at UNLV can’t be underestimated. You can get on the field as a freshman, play in front of family and friends, and be part of a movement that is expected to be historic. UNLV, with the stadium as the program-changer decades in the making, is on the brink of something special.
There are going to be many memorable nights at Allegiant, and if Holloway has his way, he’ll be front and center in the excitement.
“It’s a great opportunity to play in an NFL stadium,” Holloway said. “You never know who is looking at you from the NFL.”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Holloway runs a 4.4 second 40-yard dash. He’s got a 41-inch vertical leap. He’s a three-star recruit by 24/7 Sports, who list him as Nevada’s 10th best overall prospect for 2021.
“In my opinion, they got one of the best local guys,” Isola said. “I really believe, God willing, that he’ll have a special career at UNLV. We’ll look back and call it the ‘Aaron Holloway era.’”
Arroyo’s work locally is far from finished. It’s still an uphill battle to persuade a prospect to pick UNLV over the likes of Oregon and USC, where there’s more tradition and exposure. But having Allegiant Stadium in the prospect brochure is downright appealing. Just ask Holloway, who surely won’t be the only big-time Las Vegan to stay home.
“We’ll recruit Vegas as hard as we recruit anywhere else,” Arroyo said last February on national signing day. “We want to keep our ballplayers here.”