UNLV Rebels’ Top 10 Returning Players in 2024 Include Ricky White, Jalen Catalon

    The UNLV Rebels fared as well in the transfer portal as any Group of Five team, and the list of top returning players is littered with talented transfers.

    UNLV enjoyed its best season in 40 years in 2023, but the transfer portal was unkind to the new Mountain West contenders. However, Barry Odom, Brennan Marion, and the “Go-Go” offense succeeded in bringing some talent to Las Vegas. The Rebels look poised for another run at a conference championship in 2024.

    These 10 returning players will be a huge part of that.

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    UNLV Rebels Top 10 Returners in 2024

    10) Antonio Doyle, EDGE

    Doyle comes to UNLV by way of Jackson State to hopefully reinvigorate a struggling defensive line for the Rebels. UNLV had just 26 sacks on the season, with just 12.5 coming from defensive linemen.

    Doyle is athletic and should upgrade the pass rush. If he can, it will take pressure off the second and third levels of the defense.

    9) Jacob de Jesus, WR

    de Jesus doesn’t just excel as a speedy slot option for the Rebels but also as an All-Conference return man. He averaged over 25 yards a kick return and 16 yards a punt return, really helping the Rebels with field position.

    Last year, he excelled as a chain-mover and will look to do the same in 2024. His 60 catches for over 600 yards was impressive production for UNLV’s No. 2 option.

    8) Michael Allen, RB

    Allen, a transfer from NC State, is a bowling ball of a back and exactly the type of BR who could excel in UNLV’s offense. His size will be useful in short-yardage situations, as a pass protector, and even as a lead blocker, a role he’ll be asked to fill often at UNLV.

    He dealt with a few nagging injuries at NC State, but if he’s healthy, expect a huge year from the junior.

    7) Cameron Oliver, CB

    Oliver led the Rebels in interceptions last year, picking up five to add to the five he had previously in his career. He’s likely to start at one of the corner spots opposite Tony Grimes this season.

    Oliver’s ball production should be huge this year, as the rest of the secondary should be improved. He should see more targets in 2024 than ever before.

    6) Jackson Woodard, LB

    An All-Mountain West selection last season, Woodard came out of nowhere to rack up 116 tackles despite having just 16 in his previous three seasons combined. Now, he returns to lead a talented defense.

    The Rebels need to get better up front, but Woodard is rock solid at the second level. If he plays well again, an improved secondary should really help the Rebels.

    5) Tiger Shanks, OL

    Shanks was a starter at tackle in 2021 and 2022 but kicked inside to left guard last season and was a mauler in the running game. Shanks is returning for a fifth year after taking home first-team All-Mountain West Honors last season.

    Shanks is a veteran presence on the offensive line and played his best in Marion’s system. He should help whichever quarterback ends up starting to have an easier transition.

    4) Matthew Sluka, QB

    It’s rare to put an FCS transfer in the top spot for a Group of Five school, especially when he hasn’t even won the starting job yet, but Sluka is that talented, and he has the coaching to be a superstar. Jayden Maiava struggled early last season but took his game to another level with time in the Go-Go system.

    Sluka is a dynamic runner who put up over 3000 rushing yards at Holy Cross. He has a career 59-to-20 touchdown-to-interception ratio and took just 16 sacks last year. Theoretically, he should be lower on this list, but I’m not willing to leave the potential Mountain West Player of the Year out of the top 2.

    There’s a chance fellow FCS transfer Hajj-Malik Willis wins the job. If he does, he could be this good as well.

    3) Tony Grimes, CB

    Yes, this is the same former five-star recruit that graduated high school a year early to enroll at North Carolina and started as a freshman before moving to Texas A&M. Despite having heavy interest in the portal from multiple Power Four programs and a brief commitment to Michigan State, Grimes signed with UNLV.

    He missed the entire 2023 season due to a lingering lower-body injury, but if he’s healthy, he’s going to be a shutdown corner for the Rebels.

    2) Jalen Catalon, S

    Catalon looked destined for stardom at Arkansas, earning Freshman All-American and All-SEC honors in 2020 before getting off to an incredible start in 2021. After six games, he suffered a season-ending injury and has been hampered by injuries since.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Mountain West Weekly Football Schedule

    If he’s healthy in 2024, the Rebels have an All-SEC caliber player on a Mountain West defense. He’s plenty familiar with Odom, who was his position coach at Arkansas.

    1) Ricky White, WR

    White finished third in the NCAA last year behind potential top-10 picks Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze with 1,483 receiving yards. Any time that’s the company a player is keeping, you know he’s an elite playmaker.

    White initially entered the transfer portal after the season, but UNLV was able to keep him in Las Vegas, giving the Rebels the most productive returning receiver in college football.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!


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