Chris Ault is arguably the greatest coach in the state of Nevada ever.
In 1998, the University of Nevada-Reno named him its Coach of the Century. The Reno Gazette-Journal matched the honor in 1999, declaring Ault the Northern Nevada Coach of the Century. A member of the Nevada, UNLV, Pacific High School, and College Football Hall of Fames, Sports Illustrated placed Ault among the 50 greatest sports figures in Battle Born State history.
When it was time for Ault’s grandson to make his college decision, to no one’s surprise, he chose to walk in his grandfather’s legacy. 2024 WR Ben Scolari committed to Nevada in June.
When the Wolfpack fired head coach Ken Wilson and his staff in December, Scolari changed his mind.
“Decommitting from Nevada was tough because it’s my hometown team, but the coaches who recruited me were all on their way out,” Scolari told EVT. “My family has deep ties to Nevada football, and it will always have a special place in my heart. But, at the end of the day, I am on my own journey and want the best for my future both on the field and in the classroom.”
Five days after the Wolfpack let Wilson go, and one week after SDSU hired Sean Lewis, Scolari withdrew his pledge. Given his roots in Nevada, it took a familiar face to turn his attention to Southern California.
Scolari attends Nevada powerhouse Bishop Manogue High School. SDSU graduate assistant Parker Houston coached at Bishop Manogue for three seasons before returning to The Mesa in February. A four-year letter winner with the Aztecs, Houston and Scolari have a “deep connection.” Few people love SDSU and Northern Nevada more than Houston.
Since reopening his commitment, Scolari has heard from a handful of schools but admits he has mostly been focused on the Aztecs. This weekend, he will be in San Diego for an official visit. He said he is excited to see the facilities, develop deeper relationships with the staff, and see all that the university offers.
“I am planning on signing early next Wednesday, so I am definitely close to pulling the trigger,” Scolari said.
On film, it is easy to see why SDSU is attracted to the dynamic playmaker. He was the Northern Nevada 5A-II MVP after collecting 54 passes for 1,143 yards and 18 touchdowns while leading Bishop Manogue to its first 5A-II state tile since 2003.
Scolari has the speed to blow past defenders. At the high school level, he often out-ran his QB’s arm strength and had to wait for the pass to come down, which might make him even more explosive in college. He is tall, works well outside or in the slot, makes defenders miss, and provides a big target when finding soft spots in a zone.
As with any DI athlete competing against high schoolers, evaluating how Scolari’s game translates to the next level is tough. However, it is worth noting that he had six receptions, 145 yards, and 2 TDs in a 45-0 victory over Houston’s alma mater, Reed High School
Even with the late decommit, Scolari’s timetable has not changed. He wants to wrap up his football recruiting on early signing day so he can fully focus on the basketball season. In Bishop Manogue’s season opener against Reed, he scored 10 points on 5-7 shooting in a 60-47 win.
Aside from Houston, Scolari’s primary recruiters are QB coach Matt Johnson and WR coach Lanear Sampson. Sampson has taken the main role since his hire.
“Coach Sampson is young and ready to get after it,” Scolari explained. “He expects a lot from his wide receiver room, and he is determined to have a high-powered offense. He is a perfect wide receiver coach because he has been around the position and knows what to look for.”
As with every other player showing interest in joining the Aztecs, their head coach is a big reason why. Scolari described the Aztec Fast offense as “a wide receiver’s dream.” Count the young wideout among Lewis’ admirers. Given his family heritage, Scolari is an expert on the subject of great coaches.
Scolari’s recruitment likely did not take off because most assumed he would attend the program his grandfather built. His older brother, Drew, made that decision. Scolari was next until Nevada fired Wilson. If his official visit goes as hoped, SDSU could be the beneficiary of that decision.
“San Diego State has always been a place I could see myself playing at,” Scolari said. “The city, the weather, the people, everything about it is pretty ideal. Add on top of that the new coaching staff and what they are building. It’s a special place. I also have a cousin who is a freshman at USD (Callan Scolari), and he is a pitcher for their baseball team.”
My earliest sport’s memory involve tailgating at the Murph, running down the circular exit ramps, and seeing the Padres, Chargers and Aztecs play. As a second generation Aztec, I am passionate about all things SDSU. Other interests include raising my four children, being a great husband and teaching high school.