Nelson Becoming Bigger Part of Gator Offense

In almost three full season, David Nelson had only 11 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns. In his last three games, he's pulled in eight receptions for 116 yards and two scores. It's been a complete turnaround for the redshirt junior who can point to one thing for his increased production for the Florida Gators.

Florida is 9-0 since their loss to Ole Miss back in September. Quarterback Tim Tebow's postgame comments have been played over and over again as the reason for Florida's dominance since then. And the impact that it had on individual players like David Nelson speaks volumes about how important Tebow's message really was.

"After the Ole Miss game and Tebow made his comments, I took that personally to step up more," Nelson said. "I thought this team really needed me and I needed to step up."

"I think there was a change in work ethic and approach to the game. I became more focused on even the little things rather than just going through the motions. I just went out and worked harder and instead of focusing on me, I started focusing more on the team."

There is a natural progression that Urban Meyer and his staff place on player development. Rarely do freshmen come to Gainesville and contribute right away. Players can take it two ways – they can either get frustrated and slack off or they can take it as a challenge and try to prove their worth. Nelson fell into the first group, but since the Ole Miss game, he's shifted his attitude into the second group.

"At first, early in my career, I would get upset that the ball wasn't coming to me," Nelson said. "In practice, I would take it easy or take plays off because I knew it wasn't coming to me. When Tebow made those comments, I decided it was time to work on my own game and become more of a team player rather than a blocking player."

Meyer has often made the comment that there are a lot of guys on the roster who haven't contributed a whole lot to the team. Nelson fell into that category and as he sees his career winding down, he's trying to change that.

"I've been here for three and half years and really don't have anything to show for it, he said. "I realized my time is starting to run out. Coach Meyer always makes the comment after practice that we only have 12 practices left or 11 or 10. I started thinking I only have maybe 25 hard practices left, so I wanted to start working harder."

Nelson caught a touchdown pass against Alabama in the first half of the SEC Championship Game to give the Gators a 17-10 lead. He then had a 13-yard reception during Florida's go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter. He's become a valuable part of the offense, and when the Gators head to Miami, he hopes another valuable part of the offense is with the team.

"It will mean a lot for us [if Coach Mullen is there] because we really like and respect him," Nelson said. "He was a big part of what we've done in three and half years. He's a big part of this and we want him to come for the ride. As far as the playcalling and making plays, that's our job."


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