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Hill: Egregious snub for Raiders punter; ex-UNLV star returns

Raiders punter AJ Cole didn’t lose any valuables or have his belongings rummaged through last week, but make no mistake — he was robbed.

Cole set an all-time NFL record of 63.6 yards per punt in a win over the Giants. Apparently accomplishing something that has never been done wasn’t enough to win the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award, because Derius Davis ran back a punt for a touchdown, something that has already been done five times this season alone.

It’s simply an unacceptable oversight.

Cole isn’t going to complain publicly, especially because there is no tangible reward that comes with the honor. But in typical fashion, he did make a joke about the snub.

“Maybe our coaches have to put me back there to try to return a punt this week,” he cracked, before adding he wasn’t even sure how the weekly award is determined.

He makes a good point, so I went to the source.

According to an NFL spokesperson, the selections are made by the league’s communications department with input from teams on players who deserve consideration.

A source close to the Raiders indicated the team did make a case for Cole, to no avail.

It’s not the kind of thing that is going to spark outrage, but special teamers only have so many chances to be recognized for their accomplishments, and Cole delivered a historic performance. This was an egregious snub, but the record books are forever, and Cole was proud of that.

“It’s not something where I knew what the record was or who had it or anything like that,” he said. “It’s not something I had set as a goal of what I want to accomplish, but in hindsight it’s really cool I got to do it because I think it’s a record that belongs in the Raiders organization with the history of punters here. So I’m happy I was able to get it.”

And now he can start working on his punt return skills.

Catching up with …

Former UNLV linebacker Beau Bell was in attendance at the Rebels’ win over Wyoming on Friday night in a work capacity, though he also took some pride in how far the program has come since he was the Mountain West defensive MVP in 2007.

Bell is a scout for the Dolphins and is in town to watch the Raiders, who will play Miami next week. He used the opportunity to get a look at some college players Friday at Allegiant Stadium, though part of him had to be enjoying the experience as a fan.

“I don’t get to watch all the games because a lot of them are late on the East Coast,” he said. “I try to stay up as long as I can, though. But I’m excited for this team. I’m excited for UNLV, and I’m excited for Las Vegas. For me to be a former Rebel and see this beautiful building and them winning, this is a dream, to be honest. I wish I would have been able to win like this in a place like this.”

Bell was a fourth-round pick of the Browns in 2008 and eventually became an Arena Football League star with the Philadelphia Soul. It was there he met former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski, who said he believed Bell could have a career in player development and scouting.

“I started talking to some scouts about how I would go about learning, and I was working on it on the side trying to figure it out and networking,” Bell said. “Once I got done playing, I had an opportunity to become the director of player personnel there, so I was recruiting and scouting players for the league. Then I became a GM with more responsibility, kept networking and got the opportunity with the Rams, originally. Then from there the Miami Dolphins.”

He and the Dolphins are thriving, but his scouting eye is still impressed with what is going on at his alma mater.

“I’ve always thought the potential for UNLV in Vegas is ripe,” he said. “It just needs the right people around to pull it out. There’s been a lot of good coaches that came in and did their best, but coach (Barry) Odom right now is doing what everybody wanted.”

Powerful moment

Aaliyah Gayles doesn’t ever need to score a point for her college basketball career to be considered a success.

The former Spring Valley star made her collegiate debut Friday night, checking in late in No. 21 Southern California’s victory over Florida Gulf Coast, nearly 19 months after her body was riddled with bullets the day after she played in the Jordan Brand Classic.

Gayles went to a house party upon her arrival back home in Las Vegas and was shot at least nine times, suffering fractures in all four limbs and casting doubt on whether she’d ever walk again, much less play basketball.

But the eighth-ranked recruit in her class vowed to honor her commitment to USC, and she officially did when she checked into the game Friday.

That was a far better win than the Trojans earned on the floor, and the celebration of her by her teammates demonstrated how hard she had worked to earn that moment.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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