David Nelson is what it's all about

In a season full of heroes and superstar playmakers for the Florida Gators there are also some that are not quite as heralded. Their importance to the team is less understood to the common fan than a coach that watches plenty of game film and practice every day. Junior WR David Nelson is one of those players that doesn't get a lot of notoriety, but in a championship season he is huge.

As a freshman and sophomore David Nelson totaled nine catches, 111 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. It probably wasn't the kind of production he was looking for when he signed on with the Florida Gators as an Army All-American back in 2005. Still, he has stuck with the program for his fourth season and he is starting to see the fruits of his labor. Nelson has seven receptions in 2008, but he also has 168 yards and three touchdowns on the year.

Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer would take 50 David Nelson's on his team if he could. Nelson is the kind of scrapper that will do anything for his team. Saturday night he fought hard at the bottom of the pile for a loose ball on an on-sides kick. Meyer was very impressed with the play.

"There are certain guys that run from competition; they go some place smaller or some place colder," Meyer said. "There are other guys that go into the weight room and work a little harder. David Nelson is one of those guys. He basically gets into a fistfight underneath a pile to get the football. We then go down and score off of that on-sides kick. He then catches a 28-yard pass. He's got another year of football and he's going to graduate from the University of Florida. The same thing with (linebacker Ryan Stamper). Those two guys are the ones you want to stamp their face on our program because that's what it's all about."

It doesn't come easy for some to play main a back up role for their first year or two on the roster before seeing significant playing time. For Nelson it was tough also in the beginning. But, he stuck it out and wide receiver coach Billy Gonzales is thankful for that.

"His whole deal was he needed to buy into it 100% and put both feet into it," Gonzales said Sunday night. "He has made that decision and commitment. If you really want to help this team, how are you going to contribute? If you think back he made some big plays for us this year in big key moments. A great thing about David is he can play multiple positions, he's smart and consistent.

A outstanding blocker for some of the more shiftier skill players on the roster, Nelson has earned the right to be thrown the ball and now quarterbacks Tim Tebow and John Brantley are looking at him much more often. Both have hit nelson for long touchdowns this season.

"It feels really good," Nelson said about being a target. "I feel like my hard work is paying off. I also understand there are a lot of guys on this team that can do what they want with the ball. It is my job to go out there and get open for Tebow or Brantley in the game. If the throw it to me I am going to do my best to come down with it."

Nelson has learned patience and with that has come the passes in his direction.

"The thing with this offense and this team, we have so many playmakers and on any give play anyone can take it to the house or do something with it," Nelson said "You really can't go wrong with all the play makers. Tebow does a great job of finding the open guy and sitting in the pocket to find the guy that is open."

There is a little bit of a question for Saturday and whether or not junior wide receiver Percy Harvin will be able to play in the SEC Championship game against Alabama. Harvin is the team's leading receiver and generally regarded as the most dynamic play maker in this 2008 version of the Gator offense. Nelson wants Harvin to be there Saturday, but there are others that can step up and make plays as well.

"We know that when someone goes down the next guy has to step up and take their spot," Nelson said. "With Percy that is a huge spot to fill. It will take two or three of us just to take his spot he's a great player."

With less than a week to go and seemingly all of their pre-season goals still ahead of them, Nelson is ready for the game in Atlanta on Saturday. The game pits two teams that many have categorized as opposite styles. Most see Alabama as a tough and physically dominating team and Florida as a fast and finesse type team. Nelson agrees with the speed thing, but he also believes the Gators have their own physicalness that they project on the field.

"We are a finesse team and have some speed on us," nelson agreed when asked about the perceived contrast in styles. "We are also tough guys, we take a lot of pride in the off-season work outs we do. Coach Meyer and Coach Mickey Marotti do a great job with us. That's all we work on in the off-season and it is to make us a tough team. We are just looking forward to playing the number one team in the country and playing for an SEC Championship."

And if he catches a touchdown pass along the way, then so be it.


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