Gridiron Is This Nelson's Place

Modesto (Calif.) Christian tight end Raymond Nelson, the younger brother of UCLA freshman hoops player Reeves Nelson, had an all-state junior year in football and he's on UCLA's football recruiting radar...

Modesto (Calif.) Christian tight end/defensive end Raymond Nelson (6-5, 225), has had a unique view of the recruiting process, watching his older brother, Reeves, be recruited as a basketball player before he eventually signed with UCLA.

The younger Nelson, though, has his future on the football field, so he's got a different approach to it, especially playing at a smaller school, albeit the current CIF State Small Schools Division champs.

"I've got a pretty good handle on the recruiting process, but with basketball, they have AAU so it's a lot easier to be seen, so I know I need to go out and perform at camps, since there is no team to perform with during the summer," said Nelson.

He did, though, perform very well as a junior, earning First Team All-State Underclass honors after helping Modesto Christian to the state title in a thrilling win over San Diego Parker.

"Being on that big stage helped me a lot," said Nelson. "But I think it's really going to come down to camps this summer, performing really well and getting my name out there."

His brother has made a name for himself with the Bruins this season, one of the most physical players in the Pac-10 in basketball, and has become known as one of the grittier players in college hoops.

But Nelson is a bit different than his older brother, and he said he lacks the "craziness" that his brother has, which is why he likes tight end more than defensive end.

"I think I want to play tight end in college, and that's what I've told most of the schools," said Nelson. "I don't think I'm insane enough to play defense at the highest level. I like getting in there on defense, getting sacks, but I think I've been blessed with pretty good hands and catching passes is more fun for me."

Several schools have been showing interest in Nelson.

"I'm getting a lot of interest from some Pac-10 schools but I have no offers yet," said Nelson. "A lot of schools have said they'll be coming after me pretty hard. UCLA has always been talking to me since my brother went down there, USC is sending me letters, really, all the Pac-10 schools have been sending me letters. Washington has been wanting me to check in with them and the Washington State head coach came by and so did the Fresno State coaches."

One of Nelson's closest friends is Isaiah Burse, who signed with Fresno State last month.

"Pat Hill came to the school a couple months ago when they were recruiting Zay (Isaiah Burse) and he told my coach that he'd be coming after me hard," said Nelson. "Zay and I are really cool with each other and close friends and it would be great to play with him again."

USC is the school that Nelson grew up rooting for.

"Growing up, I've always been a fan of USC," said Nelson. "With the new coaching staff, they're having to redo some things so we'll see what happens with them and me."

Then there is UCLA, where his brother is becoming a cult figure on the Westwood campus, and despite being the Bruins blue-collar hero, is still looking out for his younger brother.

"Reeves says he talks to Coach (Rick) Neuheisel and tells him I'm one to watch, so yeah, UCLA is definitely a possibility," said Nelson. "They have a great coaching staff and a great program and I love the campus. I know pretty much the whole basketball team and Reeves introduced me to some of the football players too."

Nelson said he'd be likely camping at UCLA this summer, and will be at the Stanford Nike Camp as well as FBU in the Bay Area during the spring, plus some team camps.

His preference is the Pac-10, but he's not shutting down other schools.

"Besides the Pac-10, there are only a couple of other schools I'm interested in, like Boise State, Fresno State and Utah, because they have been really interested. It's really up in there right now, I'm wide open. But I definitely want to stay in the West. I really want my family to come see me."

Nelson would like to decide early, ideally before his season starts.

"I'd like to make a verbal at the end of summer, but that all depends on how hard people are coming after me, and what my options are," said Nelson.

Academically, Nelson has a 3.86 and will take the SAT this month.

As a junior, Nelson offensively had 32 receptions for 687 yards and 11 touchdowns and defensively, had 64 tackles and 7.5 sacks.


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