June 4, 2006
Rebels to get more help in secondary?
Tagoai last played at UNLV in 2003 after transferring from Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif. Great things were expected of the JC All-American, but bad luck prevented the opportunity.
Tagoai's career at UNLV showed some initial promise, but the defensive back has been crippled by injuries. After playing in only 4 games in his junior season in which he tallied 22 tackles and two pass breakups, Tagoai was forced to miss the rest of the season with a calf injury. That injury set Tagoai back more than he had hoped. He was forced to sit out the entire 2004 season too.
Tagoai performed well in 2005 workouts, but in the late fall camp he again suffered torn ligament in his left knee. The injury required surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2005 season.
With his eligibility clock exhausted, it appeared that Tagoai's career was over before it got much of a chance to start.
With his health now back to normal, Tagoai may get another chance. If he can graduate before the start of fall classes, he can petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility. In cases such as these, the NCAA grants the request far more times than not. With the completion of 12 credit hours in the summer session, Tagoai may get his chance to finally shine on the field.
Although the Rebels may have strengthened the defensive backfield to where it may be one of the best in the west, UNLV would welcome Tagoai back into the mix.
UNLV hardened the secondary with USC transfer cornerback Eric Wright (Riordan High School, San Francisco). Wright has been tabbed the league's preseason newcomer of the year 2006 by Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook and is a considered a high NFL prospect.
The Rebels also added four-star Rivals recruit Tony Cade. The former Oklahoma Sooner and JC star at City College of San Francisco is one of the team's biggest safeties. He has the speed and talent to have an instant impact.
The addition of Mil'Von James, a transfer from UCLA, will provide even more depth in the secondary. He will compete with senior cornerback John Guice, who had a solid season in his first year as a Rebel despite being slowed by nagging injuries. James can be used in nickel packages to get on the field at the same time as Guice and Wright.
UNLV also returns Nate Kenion in the secondary. Kenion was one of the quicker Rebels last season while tallying 26 tackles. His strength was against the run, but again, could see playing time in nickel sets.
After ranking 114th (of 117th) in pass efficiency defense, UNLV will take all the help they can get. With the facelift to the secondary, the Rebels may have the most improved defensive secondaries in the entire nation. While being picked apart with ease by opposing quarterbacks last season, this unit may jump to being the strength of the team.
With a little luck, Willie Tagoai will be a part of that.