ELY — Whether it was a shoulder, ankle or some other body part, freshman Dionza Bradford battled injuries throughout UNLV training camp.
The toll was evident, because he was unable to emulate what he accomplished during spring practice.
Not until Thursday, at least.
Bradford, competing for the final spot in the three-man rotation at running back, took a major step forward by rushing for 42 yards on six carries in the Rebels’ final scrimmage away from campus.
The soft-spoken Bradford, from Phelan, Calif., said it "would be very important" to grab that final spot.
"I felt like I did a good job," he said.
Bradford is competing with sophomore Imari Thompson, and though coach Bobby Hauck said no decision has been reached, Bradford appears to have the edge heading into the season opener at No. 11 Wisconsin at 5 p.m. PDT Thursday.
Bradford ran with the second-team offense, piling up his yardage against the starting defense. Thompson was held to a number of short gains while playing with the third-team offense against the No. 3 defense.
Sophomores Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle have locked down spots in the rotation. Hauck has downplayed who starts, but Cornett ended last season as the starter and doesn’t want to relinquish that position.
"I think everybody on the field wants that starting position," he said. "I want to be out there Sept. 1, going out there first with the offense. I think I can keep working hard to get that since they haven’t called a starter yet."
Cornett probably helped himself in the scrimmage, gaining 33 yards on four carries. He converted a fourth-and-1 with an 11-yard gain, and followed with an 18-yard touchdown. Randle gained 15 yards on seven attempts.
Much of the scrimmage was devoted to the running game and preparing specifically for Wisconsin. Sophomore quarterback Caleb Herring and junior Sean Reilly each threw only five passes. Herring will start against the Badgers.
Hauck liked that his team, which returned to Las Vegas late Thursday, finished camp with a physical scrimmage.
"I thought it was better than last Saturday," he said. "We looked tired, and so it doesn’t look very fast.
"We need to be more physical. It’s been a two-year process."
■ NOTES — Junior safety Corbin Brown, who has a sprained left ankle, was out of his walking boot. The ankle was taped, and he remained out of practice. … Sophomore linebacker Reggie Umuolo returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown. … Quarterback Nick Sherry completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquis Thompson. Both are freshmen. … Sophomore kicker Nolan Kohorst made field goals of 48 yards and 32 yards. Junior Chase Lansford converted from 20 and 36 yards.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.