Modesto Christian High basketball standout Reeves Nelson has played his last football game for the Crusaders.
Nelson suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee and will have surgery Friday at the UCLA Medical Center. He'll follow with his official visit to UCLA, the college to which he has verbally committed to play basketball. If the rehabilitation goes according to schedule, Nelson isn't expected to miss much of his final high school basketball season.
When Nelson received the diagnosis, he didn't want to stop playing football.
"At first, I was fully intending to play football after therapy," Nelson said. "But then we got the call (Tuesday), the doctor said surgery. It was out of my hands."
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee that serves as its shock absorber. It distributes weight and provides stability to the joint.
"From what I've been told, it's a pretty innocuous injury, but it's got to be taken care of," said his father, Brian Nelson. "They're saying it will be four-to-eight weeks of rehabilitation, then Reeves will be back to 100 percent.
"We're shooting for him to play in the (Modesto Christian) Holiday Hoops Classic (starting Dec. 26)."
The 6-foot-8-inch Nelson is one of the state's top college basketball prospects. He verbally committed to UCLA in January.
He chose to play football for the first time since his freshman season and made an impact for the Crusaders (4-1). In three games, he caught six passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, he had two sacks and recovered four fumbles. He also returned an interception for a score.
"Reeves gave football 100 percent," Brian Nelson said. "He really enjoyed being out there."
His coach agreed.
"It was fun while it lasted. He was definitely a player for us," MC football coach Mike Parsons said. "But he needs to focus on his future, which is basketball."
It's a sentiment Reeves Nelson echoed.
"It's time to focus on rehab and playing basketball as soon as I can," he said.
While Nelson has been in the public eye since he was a freshman playing for the state-power Crusaders basketball team, he quickly became a part of the football team.
"We're going to miss him out there," Parsons said.
Parsons will still see Nelson, who will be a 6-8, 240-pound cheerleader on the Crusaders' sideline.
"Football was everything I thought it was going to be," Nelson said. "If I could do it all over again, I would. I'll be out there on the sidelines supporting our team every week."
Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.