Nelson's return a personal testimony

Whether or not Riley Nelson plays this Saturday is anyone's guess. However, if it were up to Nelson, he would play despite the fact that he hasn't gone through the recommended recovery time yet. Nelson said he feels there's more behind his rapid recovery than medical assistance and personal rehab.

Since his return to the practice field, Riley Nelson has been sore but feeling as though he's progressing.

"Feeling good and feel a lot better than I did last Wednesday when I came out to practice," Nelson said. "I'm still sore and I'm still feeling it and taking the anti-flam stuff, still having to do the hot tub and all that stuff. It's still a work in progress to be in a position where coach goes ahead and gives me the nod.

"We were advised at four weeks. I've kind of talked about it and kind of felt it out, you know, kind of my gut and heart. Through this whole process I've been more of a quick healer than a slow healer."

Although he's been cleared to play on Saturday, Nelson hasn't officially been named the starter for the Hawaii game. It's his hope that he will indeed get the starting nod.

"I don't have a ton of opportunities left to play football, so if there is any shot that I can strap it up on Saturday, I want to take advantage of that opportunity. So, that's where my mindset is at. I'm working towards that every day and I'm getting better and feeling better and being able to do the things that I need to do to give us a shot at winning."

A decision on whether or not Nelson actually sees playing time this Saturday will come from the coaches.

"The coaches are to determine, and so we've talked it out," said Nelson. "They asked me, ‘Do you feel ready?' and I said, "Look, yeah, I might be sore but I'm going to do everything that I can do to play. I want to play.' I told them, ‘Forget the soreness and forget the pain, because we're all playing in pain. It's the 12th game of the season and we're all sore, and I'm not exception to that rule.'"

Nelson is intent on convincing the coaching staff that he should get the start.

"It's going to take me proving it on the practice field to the coaches that I'm going to do everything that is necessary to give us the best shot of winning on Saturday," said Nelson. "Nothing has been decided yet and we still have a couple more practices."

After suffering two broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung in the game against Idaho, Nelson was taken to a local hospital for assessment and treatment. However, prior to being rushed off in an ambulance, he sat in the locker room where his father Keith and BYU staff members laid their hands on his head and gave him a priesthood blessing.

"My dad is a doctor and he's watching me play football since I was seven, so that's around 16 years," Nelson said. "He saw me throw that last ball and I got knocked to the ground and I didn't high-five anyone. He said, ‘That's the only time after scoring you've ever walked off the field with your head down.'"

Riley's father instinctively knew something was wrong with his son. He got up out of his seat and made his way down from the stands towards BYU's sideline.

"He came down and pushed his way past security and stuff like that to see what was going on," Nelson said with a smile. "He was right there with me when they eventually took me back into the locker room to evaluate me.

"We have a little x-ray machine and they gave me an x-ray to see what was wrong with me. They assured me that I was in no immediate danger. In other words, we had some time to get into the ambulance and to the hospital."

With the pain of his broken ribs throbbing and struggling to breathe with a partially collapsed lung, Nelson asked his father for a favor.

"I looked up at my father who was standing right there and said, ‘Dad, how about a blessing?'" Nelson said reverently. "He said, ‘I was just going to suggest it.'

"My dad put his hands on my head, and it was nice because BYU's whole medical staff was able to be in on that priesthood blessing and help out with that. During the blessing, some things were pronounced that were very special to me and really increased my faith for working to come back. We all know that priesthood blessings aren't magic. They work according to your faith and a lot of your faith is action based on what was I going to do to put myself into a position to play in this [Hawaii] game."

Nelson has thought back on what was said during that blessing. His surprise appearance the following Wednesday to support his teammates during practice was no doubt an effort to show his faith in the blessing he received.

"I've attributed everything to that blessing and I've reflected on it multiple times since the injury occurred in these last two and half, going to be three weeks, from playing," Nelson said. "Like I said, it increased my faith and put me in a position to possibly play."

With Heaps unable to practice due to battling the flu, Nelson suited up the following Tuesday to the surprise of Coach Doman, who knows what it's like to suffer a broken rib.

"I didn't know he was hurt," Doman said. "That's the honest truth, which is a tribute to him."

However, Nelson doesn't attribute his rapid recovery to anything he's done. Rather, he firmly believes his current situation and rapid recovery came from a blessing he was given by his father in BYU's locker room that night.

"There is no doubt about it, no doubt," Nelson said. "I attribute it greatly to the blessings of my Heavenly Father and the faith that I exercised on my part after I received a priesthood blessing from my father and BYU's medical staff …

"This injury is more of a four-to-six week thing, and here I am at two and a half and being considered to play and feeling comfortable about doing just that. If the inspiration from Heavenly Father wasn't there and He was putting the brakes on things, then I would put the brakes on things. I've felt good and peaceful about working to get back and feel good this week.

"I attribute 100 percent of my recovery to my Heavenly Father and the blessing that I received that night. It was definitely a miracle or a tender mercy to have that chest scan come back and have it as clean as it was, because I wasn't expecting that and the doctors, when they let me out of the hospital, weren't expecting that. The fact that it was, to me, is a testimony-building experience."


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