Nielsen Sees Growth in his Team and his Recruiting

The last twelve or so months in Austin Nielsen's life have been very eventful. Last fall, his three-year old high school has started to gain respect in the Arizona prep scene. The linebacker was big part of that, as he gained first team all-region honors. His stellar showing in the Nike camp last month has naturally spiked up the interest he's been receiving from various college programs. In this Devils Digest interview, Nielsen discusses these topics, and his impressions of the Sun Devils.

Like many Phoenix-area standout players, the 6-1 220 Austin Nielsen took part in ASU's junior camp ten days ago. "It was great," he said of the event. "It was a friendly atmosphere. I like how the coaches took time to tell you what you did wrong and how to fix it. Coach Miller (ASU's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach) was a great guy. I appreciated the stuff he taught us. It was a lot of sound defensive principles."

The linebacker didn't get to tour campus that much during the camp, but did so earlier in the year. Not only was he impressed with what the program had to offer, but some aspects around the program have also caught his eye.

"They have the scholar-baller program where they try to boost the GPA of the players in the program" he remarked, "and I really like that. They also have the saying ‘answer the scratch', which means that even if you're tired you have to step up to the line, and go one more yard and stuff like that." Speaking of academics, the linebacker is already qualified with a SAT score of 1120 and a 4.11 GPA. Nevertheless, he indicated that his SAT score isn't up to his standards and he plans to retake it.

Nielsen plays for Sandra Day O'Connor high school in Glendale (Ariz.), which opened only in 2002. The strong sense or pride he has in his school is quite evident in his words. "This year's seniors are the first fully graduated class," he commented. "Seeing the program grow has probably been the best reward going to that school. The early years were really hard, and seems like everyone was kicking you down and you had little school spirit. Last year we had our first varsity year, and we felt like we were reaping the fruits of our labor." Sandra Day O'Connor finished with a 6-3 record in 2004.

If the linebacker was a lesser known prospect a few months ago, an eye-popping showing at the Southern California Nike camp changed his status and helped him make a name for himself. "I did the 185-bench 26 times, had a 37.5 vertical, and ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash," said Nielsen. "I didn't know how I would fair against California kids, because they are really good players. This was my first ever camp. I just went there trying to do my best and my best ended up being really good (smile)."

Nielsen admitted that he has been many much more recruiting questionnaires and letters than he did before. He reported that both state schools are recruiting him very hard. However, he has yet to receive his first offer. "My favorite is BYU, but other than that it's open," he said. "I just want to play somewhere. ASU talked to me about the mission and I can tell they are really LDS friendly. They have a lot of players they went on missions and came back, and now are playing." New Mexico and Army are other schools that are reportedly pursuing the linebacker.

His criterias when choosing a school are quite simple. "I'm looking for a school that has good facilities, a good program, and good educational facilities," he stated. "It doesn't matter if it's close to home or not. I don't want to go somewhere that's too humid, but other than that I'm good (smile)."

"My strongest point is my work ethic," he said of his skills. "If I have a weak point I really try to work at that until it becomes a strength, and find another weak area to work on. I feel more secure against the run, so in spring ball I really took time to get the coverages down and that sort of thing."

Nielsen said that he expects to make a decision only after the season, when he expects to already have some offers in hand, as well as official visits under his belt.

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