Give Brian Kelly and his staff credit in building the Bearcats football program. Two weekends ago the Bearcats invited a few prospects on their board that came up short of getting an offer. Now one of these players is looking hard at what his future might hold.
The last time I saw Mark Nelson of Big Walnut High School was during the Division Three state championship game. The linebacker played a key role in helping the Golden Eagles defeat Licking Valley in a hard fought battle. In the end Nelson and his teammates walked away with the trophy and prestige of being called a champion.
Now it's time for Nelson to look deep into his soul and make the hardest choice of his young life. Become a walk-on at the University of Cincinnati or take full advantage of the several programs willing to pay for his education from his football ability.
"I really like Cincinnati," said Nelson. "The coaching staff, facilities and everything about the university is top notch. The coaches are down to earth and have been upfront and honest about where I stand with them."
While being a walk-on at a division one program is not the easiest of roads, the lure of competing against the best may be too much for Nelson to stay away from.
"I don't want to be twenty years from now saying I could have or should have gone to Cincinnati. I would really like to see how I stack up against the best. I know this will not be an easy road but after I hear back about what type of financial aid I'm qualified for I'll know what I'm going to do."
Nelson has visited Cincinnati for Senior Camp and a few other times over the past year, each time he's come away impressed with what the Bearcats are putting together. With a few more programs coming in this week to make their pitch, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker known he may have to wait another week or two before making his choice.
For his senior season Nelson recorded 156 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss along with 8 sacks. He's seen and heard about the success of a couple of current and former Bearcats who've taken the road he's looking at and knows the reward can be great.
"There is still a chance something could happen and the staff extends me an offer. While I'm sure it's a long shot, you never know what might happen."
We'll check back with Mark in the next several days to see if anything has changed with his recruiting.