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No player on the UNLV football team personifies the gritty 2013 Rebels better than senior quarterback Caleb Herring.
“He’s a classic example of guys who persevere and are persistent,” head coach Bobby Hauck said. “It seems like we are in a day and age where when kids see the first sign of adversity, they bail or try to find an easier path. He didn’t do that. He stuck with it.”
Herring, who was the starting signal caller as a sophomore before losing the grasp on the job in 2012, lost a hard-fought battle for the starter’s job again this year. But after the squad began the season 0-2 and trailed 14-0 in the early going against Central Michigan, a change was made that altered the course of the Rebels’ season.
Following another CMU score, Herring led the Rebels to 31 unanswered points in a 31-21 win, orchestrating the largest comeback in school history. The native of Moreno Valley, Calif., threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters and set an all-time school record for completion percentage in a game (24-for-28, .857).
Including that contest, the Rebels won seven of their final 10, scoring 33.9 points per game and earning UNLV its first bowl berth since 2000. The Rebels, which scored 23 and 13 points in its first two games without Herring, totaled at least 24 points in all but one of the final 10 outings.
“My mindset was to be ready whenever the team needed help,” Herring said.
He was more than ready. For the year, he completed 234 of 364 passes (64.3 percent) with 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
A consummate team player, Herring even played wide receiver last year, starting four times while still taking reps as the No. 2 quarterback. The 2013 media guide even lists Herring’s position as QB/WR.
“He competed hard for the (quarterback) position and when he got his chance he was really, really good,” Hauck said. “He’s a guy that shows what can happen when you keep working. He played very consistently and has been invaluable to his team.”
Junior wide receiver Devante Davis, who reaped the benefits of having Herring under center, put it simply when asked about Herring.
“Great guy, great teammate, great quarterback,” he said. “I try to make every play for him.”
“He works harder than people even know,” Davis continued. “He never had a bad face (when not starting). He could tell you every play that happened in the game, and on the sideline, he’d be coaching you.”
Herring split a pair of top awards at the UNLV postseason banquet, claiming Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors while also sharing the Bill "Wildcat" Morris Most Inspirational Award.
“I was so happy for him,” Davis said. “We knew what he could do.”
While it was an important season for him individually, Herring prefers to think about it in the context of the team.
“It’s definitely been a big year for us,” Herring said. “We wanted to leave a mark as outgoing seniors.”
Drew Harris (drew@firstpitchpr.com) is the founder of First Pitch Public Relations, a sports-focused media relations company in Fort Worth. He has 15 years of experience in the sports communications industry with UW-Green Bay, TCU, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals. His current clients include: ESPN Events, UT Arlington Athletics, The Ben Hogan Award and the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate.
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