Earlier this week the UCLA Athletic program (particularly basketball) was the center of controversy as detailed in George Dohrmann’s article for Sports Illustrated. The article centers around basketball player Reeves Nelson who’s antics and delinquencies would lead to his expulsion from the team. Nelson was undoubtedly one of UCLA’s most talented athletes. His release was widely noticed across the nation.
However what has gone slightly unnoticed is the handling of his younger brother Raymond, who was on the Bruin football team. Nelson was a tight end that just finished his freshman season. His dismissal came on January 8, nearly a month after brother Reeves got the boot from the basketball team on December 9.
Raymond was sent home on December 30, the day before UCLA’s 20-14 defeat at the hands of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The reason given for his dismissal was a violation of team rules, a familiar explanation given for by basketball head coach Ben Howland when referencing the suspensions and eventual ousting of Reeves. The situation was reviewed by Coach Mora, who felt that it was in both parties’ best interest to part ways.
Raymond played in eight games last season for the Bruins making no receptions. He was ranked as the 25th tight end in the nation according to Scout.com. He played high school football at Modesto Christian High School.
The extent to which Raymond may or may not have been a trouble maker is unknown but what is true is that Neuheisel’s Bruins lacked discipline, much like what Dohrmann describes the Bruin basketball team to be under coach Howland.
Mora said in a statement issued by UCLA: “At UCLA, we have a high set of standards that we expect every student-athlete to adhere to. Unfortunately, these three gentlemen choose not to do so.” The other two gentleman in reference were Wesley Flowers and Randall Carroll, who were also released alongside Nelson.
What if there is a story behind Raymond just as there was Reeves? Personally, I think that whatever bad blood might have stemmed over to the football program is resolved with the coaching change. UCLA football rose from the dead in recruiting after the completion of Neuheisel’s tenure as coach. Several recruits spoke in a different light about the Bruins, saying as much as it being “a different atmosphere” with the new staff.
Still it is unknown whether Raymond was a problem for the team or not. All that can be done is to speculate. While it is not fair to judge him based on his brother’s actions, it is fair to speculate that something went wrong and led to his dismissal from the team. Brother Reeves is preparing for the NBA Draft, while for Raymond, his next step is unknown. Here is to hoping only that only the best lies ahead for these brothers.