Nerness, who committed to the Cyclones in June, has transferred to SouthLake Christian Academy in Huntersville, North Carolina, he told AllCyclones.com on Friday. Had Nerness stayed at Murray, he was expected to graduate early and enroll at Iowa State in January.
"My move was more than football," Nerness said. "I had the opportunity to go to a sound Christian school with Biblical orientation, which to me is a major thing. All in all I feel like leaving home a year early is beneficial to my maturity as a person and my spiritual beliefs as well. It wasn't an easy decision but at the end of the day this is what was on my heart to do."
The ISU coaching staff was made aware of Nerness' pending transfer well before he accepted the Cyclones' scholarship offer. Nerness and his family made the drive to North Carolina on July 8. Since then, he's been participating in 7-on-7 — playing linebacker — and gearing up for fall camp, which begins Monday.
Nerness' uncle is the wrestling coach at SouthLake Christian.
"Working out four days a week at school and two more with my uncle is already (showing) results," Nerness said. "Also to be able to refine my game a little bit and learn to play with the ability that I have is great. I'm not the biggest obviously so learning to use my speed and athletic ability to overwhelm is a huge help.
"My (new) defensive coordinator was a linebacker for Wake Forest so it's helping me with terminology. And not only that but a chance to play on a team where we have like six to 10 guys, including myself, on defense that have offers to play somewhere ranging from the Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten. Playing with guys of that level and talent makes me elevate my game and play harder."
Standout SouthLake Christian running back Robert Washington is Scout's No. 9 ball-carrier in the 2016 class and wideout Conner O'Donnell has offers from Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and UCLA.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Nerness was a two-way player throughout his career at Murray, racking up 71 tackles and eight sacks on defense as a junior and rushing for 856 yards and 14 scores on offense. Nerness returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Nerness is viewed by the Iowa State staff as a future defensive end and is one of two players at the position the Cyclones have committed for the 2015 class, along with Waukee's Anthony Nelson.
The move to North Carolina does not affect Nerness' commitment, he maintains. Nerness chose Iowa State over offers from Kansas State and Western Illinois.