"Ernest is the fastest player on our team and he's an aggressive guy who flies to the football," said Coach McDonald. "He's just a tenacious player with football instincts."
Of course, one reason for his superior play could also be attributed to a year of further maturity according to Nance. A change in his activity level has left him feeling of lighter step.
"I let myself get fat as a junior but I worked hard to change my body," said Nance. "I'm in much better shape and I feel faster and quicker."
As a senior, Nance has recorded 58 tackles, four fumbles caused, four fumbles recovered, and two sacks in five games. Offensively, he has rushed for 872 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground and two more scores through the air.
His efforts have earned him scholarship offers from Alabama and Arkansas. Auburn, Memphis, Nebraska, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, and UAB are also taking a long look at Nance.
As for Alabama, Nance's father is a strong Alabama fan who can often be found sporting an Alabama hat on his head. Nonetheless, Nance says his father is letting him reach his own decision.
"My father is an Alabama fan but he wants me to be happy," Nance said.
Nance took an unofficial visit to Alabama in August and came away impressed with what he saw. He was particularly impressed with new head coach, Dennis Franchione.
"Coach Fran is cool," said Nance. "He has everything under control and I like that."
The recent announcement of Alabama making the docket for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Committee on Infractions could be a key component of Nance's decision. Nance sees the situation from both sides of the coin, which is unusual for a person of his youth.
"I need to see how much the penalties are," said Nance. "It will be good for me to know and good for them to know to see if they still want me."
Overall, his decision will rest on other factors as well. Nance has set his criteria and the factors are similar to many prospects trying to reach the same decision.
"I'm looking at the depth charts, the coaching staffs, and player relationships," said Nance. "The main thing is finding out where I will prosper as a student and player."
Nance also competes in other sports. In track, he runs the 100-meters and 200-meters sprints, and jumps the long jump and triple jump for the 1A program. On the hardwood, Nance averages around 17 points per game. In fact, his basketball game is good enough for him to attend college for free in that sport as well.
"Tennessee-Martin has offered me a basketball scholarship," said Nance. "I'm also getting letters from Iowa."
Athleticism in the Nance family is not limited to Ernest. His brother, Terrance Nance, also competed beyond the prep level.
"Terrance played football at Mississippi State and North Alabama," Nance said. "He was a defensive back and wide receiver."
Surprisingly, the Bulldogs are not making a strong push for Nance. At any rate, Nance is in no hurry to reach a decision. In part, because of all of the variables involved in having multiple options.
"I would like to wait and see what all of my offers in football and basketball are going to be before I reach my decision," said Nance. "A good senior year in football and basketball could bring more offers in both sports."