UNLV's football team opened training camp today with a significant pick-up in freshman linebacker Tani Maka, who signed with UCLA last year.
Maka wasn't cleared academically last year, but worked to meet the NCAA's standards. He said he fell short of UCLA's admission standards, however.
Maka (6 feet 1 inch, 230 pounds) was a Rivals.com three-star recruit when he signed with the Bruins, and was rated by the recruiting service as the nation's No. 71 linebacker. Scout.com rated him as a two-star prospect and the No. 57 middle linebacker.
"He's a good-looking guy, and he moves around well," UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. "How much he contributes is probably going to be determined by how fast he picks everything up."
Hauck, UNLV's first-year coach, talked to UCLA's Rick Neuheisel after Maka failed to qualify. Hauck worked under Neuheisel at Colorado and Washington.
"(Maka) was looking for a home, and obviously we were not too far away," Hauck said. "He decided we're a good option, so we're thrilled to have him."
Maka also spoke to Neuheisel about Hauck.
"He said Coach Hauck is a great coach," Maka said. "He helps his players, that somebody like me with academics, he could probably keep me in check."
Maka said he didn't go to UNLV expecting to be handed playing time.
"The upperclassmen are teaching me everything," Maka said. "I don't know everything, so I'm not going to come in here like I know everything."