With Vic Viramontes choosing UNLV over the likes of LSU, TCU, and Baylor (among others), the program is at an all-time high. Viramontes is the second overall ranking for a JUCO linebacker per 24/7Sports.com and one of the highest ever recruits at UNLV. He used to be a four-star quarterback, but now as a high three-star linebacker, he arguably looks like the top player on the Rebels defense going into the season.

In the span of six months, Vic Viramontes has impressed the coaches enough that they are comfortable making him a co-starter next to experienced junior middle linebackerFarrell Hester. Neither player is upset as they tend to lean on one another. Farrell said their relationship has, “….grown a lot. We help each other on the field all the time. Off the field, we hang out a lot outside of football and we always help each other a lot with the playbook.”

UNLV Expects Big Things From LB Duo of Hester and Viramontes Helping each other out is good since Hester obviously has more experience playing the position since he played it in high school at Bishop Gorman and he knows Defensive Coordinator Tim Skipper’s defense. Both can learn from each other given both are playing the same position.

Viramontes said, “Farrell gets me better. You know he’s a smart, good, great football player. Whenever I watch him I’m always learning something. Obviously I’m new to the position so everything he does I just kind of learn off him. Coach Brown does a good job, Coach Skip [Tim Skipper], Coach Cristian Garcia, you know it’s good to play with someone that wants to be great. Farrell Hester wants to be great and I love to surround myself with people like that. It brings out the best in both of us.”

Hester was already primed for a big year after having 33 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 PBU and a couple forced fumbles and recoveries. He has proven that he is a big impact player. It dates all the way back to high school where he earned first team all-state as a junior and senior and was a three-star linebacker by ESPN and 24/7Sports.com. He had 66 tackles, 10 TFL and a couple sacks at Gorman on an ultra-talented defense. He has proven that he can play and play in big games as he was doing at Gorman. He played at USC in 2018 and Ohio State the season prior. He tallied two tackles against USC, and three tackles at Ohio State in 2017. He has proven he can play in big games, and with this being his second year in the same system, he is poised for a big season.

UNLV Expects Big Things From LB Duo of Hester and Viramontes

Vic Viramontes comes from a talent-rich Riverside Community College program that annually produces top junior college players. He put up big numbers in his first year at linebacker: 66 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery. This was in his first year as a linebacker and he can only go up from there with his 6’2″, 230-pound frame. He has a season on defense under his belt and Head Coach Tony Sanchez sees that the sky is the limit for him. Both Sanchez and Skipper are happy to have him and see big things in his future. So with both Viramontes and Hester sharing starting reps they see that iron sharpens iron and both can grow by learning from one another.

UNLV Expects Big Things From LB Duo of Hester and Viramontes

At his first weekly press conference of the season, Coach Tony Sanchez said that he sees Hester starting at middle linebacker but that he and Viramontes will split reps almost 50-50 after that. Both are starting caliber linebackers to him and that is why he has them as co-starters. No matter how many reps and snaps Hester plays, he says, “I plan to have an even bigger year. Just the reps that I have to excel, play like it’s my last rep no matter how many I have.”

He can definitely perform, as seen by previous seasons, and many people expect him to have a big year. He is not worried about the expectations placed before him, as he said, “Of course, there’s expectations on me, but for me I set my own expectations, and I’m the hardest critic of myself. So as long as I meet my expectations, everyone else’s will be met as well. So I’m just striving to play for me, my family, play for my team.”

Hester is trying to stay locked in for game one. While Viramontes said that he needs to, “Just go out there and make plays, and do what we’re told. You know, we all have a job and on defense you need each and every player to do their job. As of now, each one of us needs to focus on our job and then I feel the defense is going to be great if we all do our job.”

UNLV Expects Big Things From LB Duo of Hester and Viramontes

Viramontes is focused on the team aspect but also feels that the defense will be successful if they follow the plan laid out before them. Staying true to your job is key and Hester is trying to key in on it with Viramontes doing the same.

With the increase in depth across the whole roster, especially with co-starters in Viramontes and Hester, it brings out the best in every player. Each player can lean on another for advice and push each other for reps. Just because a player performs well one day, doesn’t mean that he won’t be leapfrogged by another player depending on his performance in practice. Hester said that everything has been harder and tougher this year and the players are prepared for the game because of it. Practice helped each and every player to bring out their best.

Farrell Hester said, “We’ve been working way harder. Practice has been way tougher. Everyone’s pushing each other so if we continue to do that on a higher level every week–just strive next game after next game–we’ll be good.”

Striving next game after next game is good, but you have to start with game one on August 31st, 2019 against Southern Utah University. Both Viramontes and Hester are ready for the game.

UNLV Expects Big Things From LB Duo of Hester and Viramontes

Hester is hyped for this game and sees it as a victory. “It feels great. We all work our butts off all camp, all spring, and the season is finally here. We’re all gonna work to get this victory.”

Viramontes is simply pumped to get his Rebel career started. “I’m excited to get this going,” he said.