Monday marked a return to normal for the UNLV football team, as the Rebels resumed its fall football camp at the Fertitta Football Complex after spending Sunday at the Raiders headquarters in Henderson, NV. The unhealthy air quality from the smoke of the California wildfires forced the Rebels to move indoors for its practice.
With the Raiders practice Sunday at Allegiant Stadium, head coach Marcus Arroyo called Jon Gruden and the Raiders to see if the Rebels could practice in the Raiders’ indoor facility to avoid missing any time of practice. And thanks to the relationship between Arroyo, Gruden, UNLV, and the Raiders, the Rebels were able to stay on track with their fall camp and get their Sunday practice in at the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to Coach Gruden, Dan Ventrelle, and the Raiders and that partnership and to be able to pick up the phone like that (to use the Raiders’ practice faculty),” Arroyo said after Monday’s practice.
“For me to be able to pick up the phone and directly call coach Gruden and ask a favor says a lot about him, about us, about our relationship, about the city, about the community, about the partnership, about the movement. That’s a narrative that needs to be talked about because that’s how you build a big-time city of sports. You bring things together from all angles and communicate well, you build partnerships that are organic and real.”
One of the biggest things Arroyo wanted to relay to his team during this experience was the importance of relationships. It’s something that Arroyo has always tried to do wherever he was, coming up as a player and throughout his time as a coach.
The Rebels, who share Allegiant Stadium with the Raiders, enjoyed their time at the NFL practice facility, and while they get back to work in their normal environment, Arroyo continued to thank the Raiders for the opportunity and
“And I think our guys cherished the opportunity to go over there,” Arroyo said. “I’m humbled that they (the Raiders) allowed us to get over there and see that beautiful facility, I’m so thankful to have built the relationship.”
While the Rebels returned to practice at their usual home, they ended practice saying goodbye to Desiree Reed-Francois. The now-former UNLV athletic director was at the Rebel’s practice on Monday and addressed the team at the conclusion of the day.
At the end of her message to the team, she was met with applause from everyone there and spoke with some of the coaches, support staff, and players following practice, including Arroyo and new Rebel Tate Martell.
“It’s bittersweet,” Arroyo said. “I’m just thankful for her vision, for what she’s laid the groundwork for. We choose to come here based on that vision, collectively with her, the community, the city, and the people that have put the picture for us as a staff to make a decision to come here.”
Reed-Francois will leave UNLV and begin her new role at Missouri later this month. It would have been understandable if Reed-Francois wanted to immediately go to Missouri to begin her new role. Still, she wanted to make sure she conducted a face-to-face goodbye with the team before her departure. Arroyo praised that of her, saying it is similar to how he was raised and brought up, and that helped the two of them have a great professional relationship, along with their shared vision for the UNLV football program.
“That’s just a perfect example, that’s the expectation, and I wouldn’t have expected anything less. She’s been first class since we first met and talked when I was at Oregon,” Arroyo said. “I wouldn’t expect anything less to come out here and see us face-to-face and communicate and do it that way.”
UNLV President Keith Whitfield released a statement to UNLV faculty and staff in an email late Monday evening regarding Reed-Francois’ departure and what is expected in the immediate future on the athletic director opening.
“Interim plans for athletics leadership will be announced in the coming days, and I have the utmost confidence in our talented department staff to successfully lead UNLV Athletics during this transition period. We expect to conduct a national search for the university’s next director of athletics, and I’ll share more details as they’re available.”
As fall camp continues, the quarterback competition will only continue to intensify. There has not been a starter named yet, and it is likely that a decision on that will not be made until the week leading up to the opener against Eastern Washington.
Arroyo said that Justin Rogers and Doug Brumfield are getting time with the ones, and Cameron Friel is the next guy behind them at the moment. He said that Martell is still coming along physically and has been a nice addition to the quarterback room.
Martell has not been fully involved in practices yet, but Arroyo has been impressed with what he has seen from Martell in his brief involvement with fall camp and in his time off the field.
“You can see a guy,” Arroyo said, “the way he’s wired, in a meeting, the way his body language is, how he communicates with his guys, how he is around as a teammate celebrating with his guys, you can see a guy’s competitiveness, fire, and love for the game in just those things.”
For most of the quarterbacks in the room, this is still their first true fall camp coming out of summer, and they have been asked to elevate each other and the standards at the position. Arroyo said at the beginning of fall camp that he and his staff don’t take it lightly on the quarterbacks and ask a lot of them in this system.
After the fifth practice, Arroyo has been impressed with how all the quarterbacks have worked and progressed in the early stages of camp. The Rebels continue fall camp through August 27, with a closed scrimmage at Allegiant Stadium set to take place this week.
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