Dionza Bradford returned to UNLV, giving its football team and running game a major boost.
The sophomore running back left the team in the spring because of personal reasons, but kept in touch with coach Bobby Hauck.
"He told me that I would have an opportunity to come back and work for a spot back on the team," Bradford said. "I have to earn it back. Nothing is given back to me."
Bradford’s addition gives UNLV, which began training camp this morning at Rebel Park, one of the Mountain West Conference’s top running attacks. He rushed for 615 yards and three touchdowns last season, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Tim Cornett, now a junior, ran for 671 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt.
Each had three 100-yard rushing games.
"He’s done a nice job of working his way back," Hauck said of Bradford. "Obviously, he’s still got a ways to go, but we’re glad he’s here."
Cornett is the team’s No. 1 back, but Bradford should provide plenty of competition for him and junior Bradley Randle.
"(Bradford) looked like he was physically fit," Hauck said. "He’s been working out all summer."
Bradford said Hauck was understanding about his reasons for leaving in the spring.
"Coach let me go home and take care of some things," Bradford said. "I was always hoping that I could come back. I’m just really grateful to be back."
• The Rebels added three players who could make significant contributions either this season or in future years.
Junior defensive lineman Mark Garrick was put on scholarship this summer. He first committed to Syracuse, but didn’t sign in February after reportedly undergoing knee surgery in late January. Garrick is a transfer from Sacramento (Calif.) City College.
Junior linebacker Max Ehlert and freshman linebacker Iggy Porchia walked on and are expected to receive scholarships. Ehlert is from Finland and Germany, but played at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif. Porchia went to Venice High School in Los Angeles.
• As expected, junior running back Adonis Smith, joined the team. He will sit out this season after transferring from Northwestern, where he rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns last season.
• Senior linebacker John Lotulelei wore a cast on his left hand, which he strained lifting weights. The cast is to make the recovery quicker. Lotulelei is expected to be fine by the Aug. 30 season opener against Minnesota at Sam Boyd Stadium.
• Tight end Justin Chandler, who signed in February, did not qualify academically.
• Offensive lineman J’Ondray Sanders, who went to Basic High, will grayshirt and enroll in January.