Thursday's Conversation With UNLV's Bryan Bonnell


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Welcome to Thursday’s Conversation. Each week, one Mountain West student-athlete will be featured by answering a series of questions.

Joining the conversation this week is UNLV’s Bryan Bonnell. The Las Vegas native is in his junior year at UNLV and is a starting pitcher on the Rebels’ baseball team. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 31st round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but chose to attend UNLV. Last season, Bonnell started 16 games and was 7-5 with a 2.90 earned run average. He helped guide the Rebels to a share of the Mountain West regular-season championship (with New Mexico) and a berth in the 2014 NCAA Baseball Championship.

Last week, Bonnell was in Colorado Springs to attend the MW Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) fall in-person meeting. A first-year member of the MW SAAC, Bonnell will be sitting in on MW Senior Woman Administrators conference calls, as part of the MW’s progressive efforts to include student-athletes in all levels of the league’s governance structure.

Question: You had the opportunity to sit in on your first SWA call last month. How did that go?

Answer: I was honored to be a part of the call. In some ways, it was an overwhelming experience, just seeing how the entire process works. Lisa Kelleher, our SWA at UNLV, was great to work with and she really helped explain the procedures and topics that were being discussed on the call.

Q: Why is it so important to have student-athlete representation in the MW governance structure?

A: I think having more representation is going to improve the communication between administrators and student-athletes, and that will make for a better on-campus experience. Also, just being in the room for certain meetings or listening in on conference calls will allow student-athletes to be more educated on issues that ultimately affect them, and I think that’s a good thing.

Q: You were born and raised in Las Vegas. Your older brother, Chris, attended UNLV and played on the baseball team from 2004-07. When it came time for you to decide where to go to college, was there really any other choice than UNLV?

A: I think I was bred to be a Rebel. I thrive on tradition. I remember growing up as a kid and going to baseball games when my cousin played, and then of course, I was there for pretty much all of my brother’s games. When it came time for me to choose, I knew that I wanted to stay close to home and having that support from your friends and family in college is a blessing.

Q: Last season you were the No. 3 starter behind two players that were taken in the 2014 MLB Draft, Erick Fedde (first round by the Washington Nationals) and John Richy (third round by the Los Angeles Dodgers). With both guys gone, does that put more pressure on you?

A: I don’t think so. At the end of the day I have to go out and execute my pitches and play my game, it doesn’t matter if I’m pitching on Friday or on Sunday.

Q: When you see two teammates taken early in the draft, is that something you aspire to achieve?

A: For sure. I was drafted in high school, so I know a little of what that experience is like. I feel like I’ve definitely improved as a pitcher since then so it be an honor to get drafted higher. Getting drafted and playing professionally has always been my dream.

Q: When you’re not playing baseball, what do you like to do for fun?

A: I play a lot of golf. My whole family is big into it so I’ll usually go out with them whenever I get the chance.

Q: What’s been your favorite road trip so far?

A: Probably when we went to Tennessee. We stayed in Nashville and got to see the Titans stadium and hang out downtown. We got to see some great country bands while we were there and it was a lot of fun.

Do you have a student-athlete you’d like to see featured in an upcoming Thursday's Conversation? Contact Dan Johnson at