“Oh yeah, I was grateful for the opportunity to come here from the beginning,” said Nelson. “The fact that I was able to actually play football and be able to continue my education makes me even more grateful for this opportunity to be here. This has been a great experience for me all the way around, and I’m even more grateful for the tremendous opportunity that I’ve been given.”
Nelson has enjoyed his short time at BYU simple because it’s a place that suited him perfectly. Meaning, he initially wanted to go to college to focus on two things: college and football. At BYU he found that the environment lends for those two qualities to be found in an abundance.
“BYU is a great place to be because of the environment is conducive to those who truly want to be student-athletes,” said Nelson. “It’s a safe haven sort of speak for those who wish to attain a higher education without all the distractions that frequently occur on college campuses. It’s been a good experience for me to be here and a part of the football program.”
Keanu Nelson’s playing at BYU hasn’t been as frequent as maybe one might hope it would be. However, he has seen the field, participated, and contributed to BYU’s offense. It’s more than what he received while playing at Stanford and feels BYU’s offense is always on the cusp of simply breaking out.
“I think the resolve for me, and for our offense as a unit, that’s what’s kept me going thus far,” said Nelson. “It’s definitely resonated throughout our locker room, and throughout our team, and our coaching staff has definitely echoed that tone. I honestly think we’re more resilient than most people like to believe.”
With Savannah State being his last home game in a BYU uniform, Nelson hopes he’ll receive quite a bit of playing on senior night to help galvanize his BYU Cougar experience. In the meantime, while Savannah State hasn’t won a single game this season, he knows they’ve still got some athletes who are looking for their first win.
“Probably popular to contrary belief, they do have guys that can run and play,” said Nelson. “Anywhere you go you’re going to find that, and like I said they’re going to line up and play. However, like you said, they haven’t won a game. Because of that I’m sure they’re going to try and come in here as hungry and confident that they can get that first win, so we can’t let our guard down and think we need to go easy. This is going to be like their Super Bowl for them, so have to do all that we can to come in for our last home game and come out with another win.”
When he lines up across from the Tiger defense, Nelson expects to see a unique coverage scheme where the defensive backs will play man coverage with a third of the field having a safety over the top.
“Well they’re a middle field closed team so they run a lot of one and three coverage,” said Nelson. “Like I said they like to run ones, so we’re going to have to take advantage of their db’s. They’re going to try and come up and try and challenge us.
“Their man cover is a three and one, so you’re talking about a man-three with the safety over the top. Then just the basic cover three where you have the safety dropping a deep third and the corners dropping a deep third and linebackers buzzing. We’ll have to take advantage of that, and guys have been pretty diligent in the film room. By the time the game rolls around we’ll be ready.”
Having only played one year at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Nelson has grown to love the home game day atmosphere. He’s also grown to respect LaVell Edwards Stadium as a special place holding an abundance of rich tradition where the fans are very supportive.
“I was a little new to it and, obviously, didn’t know much about it, but it is a unique place and it is pretty special,” said Nelson. “I actually had to get a little up to speed on the tradition of LaVell Edwards Stadium. Once that’s there you kind of internalize it and say, ‘Okay, this is a pretty special place.’ The fan turnout has been pretty good so far and really supportive despite what we’ve been through. It’s really encouraging to see the fans line up and come early and do the Cougar Walk despite it being like 20 degrees outside. I know I was freezing and a lot of fans stayed after the game to shake hands that must [have been] colder than I was. It’s really nice to come to a place to see people like that who want to see you play.”
When Nelson has played his final game as a BYU Cougar, he’ll leave BYU having absorbed a whole new experience from culture, to environment, to playing football. It’s been a short BYU ride for Nelson but a good one that, along with Stanford, will be in his heart for the rest of his life.
“Oh yeah,” said Nelson. “I’ll have BYU in my heart for sure. I’ll always have BYU in my heart, but I’ll also have Stanford in my heart too. I know I kind of get a little flack for it, but personally I have an advantage because I’ll BYU in my heart but I’ll also have Stanford there too. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but, yeah, BYU will always be in my heart.”
Cougar Cam: Keanu Nelson
Keanu Nelson talks about some of the differences between BYU and Stanford. He also talks about how BYU has affected him as a student-athlete, the lifestyle at BYU, and what it's like being around married players. He talks about the locker room and a lot of other topics relating to what makes BYU different.