The University of Nevada has taken shots - fair and unfair - for its inability to recruit and/or scholarship local players.
Three years ago, the Wolf Pack lost two of the most talented offensive linemen to come out of Northern Nevada in recent history when twins Jeff and Pete Cavender from Elko High School opted to go to Boise State instead of Nevada.
According to Jeff Cavender, Nevada pulled Pete Cavender's scholarship offer because the Nevada athletic training staff felt he (Pete Cavender) would have problems because of a knee injury suffered at Elko. The Wolf Pack wanted Pete Cavender to come as a walk-on/millenium scholar.
"As I recall, both of them had some injuries," Nevada athletic trainer Marc Paul said. "One was more serious and he was coming off some surgery I believe. There was something we saw during the physical that we didn't like."
And, when you consider both Cavenders are on Boise State's starting offensive line, Jeff at center and Pete at guard, you have to think that Nevada and then-coach Chris Tormey may have screwed up. I mean if Pete Cavender's knee has held up well enough to play for Boise, it should have been good enough for Nevada to take the risk.
You have to wonder what might have been had Nevada not yanked its offer to Pete Cavender. Given Nevada's lack of depth on the offensive line over the last few years, you have to think that the Wolf Pack could have used them both.
It appears to be water under the bridge, at least in Jeff Cavender's opinion.
"That (pulling the scholarship) was part of the decision," admitted Cavender, whose Broncos host Nevada in a WAC showdown for a share of first place. "We went over to Boise and enjoyed the coaches and team.
"We're better off at Boise the way it turned out. It's nothing against Nevada. We used to come to Boise a lot when we were younger. We used to ski there. It's a big city with a small-town feel. I don't look at it as two guys getting away. I look at it as two schools going after two good athletes."
There was nobody more disappointed in the way things turned out than Nevada running back Kyle Eklund, who played with the Cavenders at Elko.
"I'd played with them since Pop Warner," said Eklund, who is looking toward today's reunion with his former teammates. "My dad and their dad was part of the coaching staff. We played together all through high school. Growing up we were like brothers."
The Cavenders don't regret their decision. They have experienced great success with the Broncos going to bowl games their first two years in the program. Barring a major meltdown, the Broncos will be in a bowl come late December.
Jeff Cavender started at right tackle last year, but was moved to center to make room for 6-6 312-pound Ryan Clady. He said the adjudtment hasn't been really huge.
"I think it (the move) was more because of inexperience at center," Jeff Cavender said. "Physically, it's a better fit for me. At 6-3, I'm a little short for a tackle. I fit the mold (for a center) better.
"The biggest adjustment is the spacing between the center and nose tackle. It's six inches compared to three feet. You can feel the heat of their (nose tackle's) breath."
With the move to center, Cavender now calls the blocking schemes up front, but that adjustment has been minor.
REUNION FOR ELKO TRIO
Today will be a reunion of sorts for the Cavenders and Eklund. Eklund said the trio communicates more on the phone than in person.
"We just talk about what we're doing in practice," Eklund said. "They came back last year a couple of times. We didn't see each other over the summer because we were all doing summer conditioning.
"I would love to be able to stay behind after the game so we could visit and come back Sunday night, but I'll be going back with the team because we need to get ready for our next game (Hawai'i)."
Eklund would also love to get back on the field. He broke his collarbone and then had an achilles heel problem that kept him out of the first four games this year. His chances to play have been limited. He played briefly against Idaho, carrying three times for minus 4 yards.
"My shoulder still bothers me," Eklund said. "It's just one of those things you have to play through. I've broken my collarbone three times and have had three surgeries."
Eklund perseveres, however. No doubt he is looking toward his senior season. With B.J. Mitchell gone, he'll be battling for playing time with Robert Hubbard, Tim Ham and Tommy Haug, and whoever Nevada might bring in during the offseason.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281