Nelson Down to 3

Prime offers still were rolling in for Matt Nelson when the Cedar Rapids Xavier DE decided it was time to trim his list of schools. He talks about finalists, Iowa, Notre Dame and Stanford, when he'll visit them and when a commitment can be expected in this premium story.

Matt  Nelson could have drawn out his recruiting process. Nationally known programs like Wisconsin and Florida State recently jumped in with scholarship offers and many more excellent opportunities seemed likely on the way.

Nelson just isn't the type of person to see how many scholarship offers he can stack up. He's not on Twitter announcing his accomplishments. He'd be uncomfortable with a televised national signing-day extravaganza.

Maybe it has something to do with him being a relatively late arrival to big-time recruiting. In January, he sat without a BCS-level offer and was unsure if he'd be playing football or basketball in college.

Nelson's humble makeup is more likely attached to his upbringing. It's helping keep in persecutive this spring's football scholarship offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Stanford, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa and Iowa State.

"It's been crazy but it's been a lot of fun," the 6-foot-8, 250-pound Nelson said. "I'm a small-town Iowa kid and Notre Dame, Stanford and Florida State are offering. You don't really know what to do with it because there's nobody around here that I have direct communication with that's been through this.

"It's been kind of a learning process. Even when I didn't have the resources, I kept it fun and manageable."

The management process included the Marion resident recently trimming his list of prospective schools to three. Iowa, Notre Dame and Stanford made the cut.

"They just fit my criteria the most; the coaches, the academics and being able to play," Nelson said. "Those are the aspects I look for in a college."

Nelson will visit each school before making his decision. The Cedar Rapids Xavier Defensive End is scheduled to be at Notre Dame on June 7 and at Stanford from June 18-20. He still is in the process of scheduling his Iowa stop and said it likely would come after the other two.

Then, Nelson expects to commit to a school.

"It will probably be late June, early July, somewhere in there," he said. "I want to get it done before football starts. I think doing it when the visits are fresh in my mind would be the best time to do it."

Iowa and Notre Dame are recruiting Nelson as a defensive end. Stanford might give him a look at outside linebacker in its 3-4 alignment but he thought he eventually would be up on the Cardinal line as well.

Academics serve a big role in Nelson's choice. His goal is to become an orthopedic surgeon.

"When I visit Notre Dame it's more for the academic side of the university," Nelson said. "Stanford is just everything. I have to take in as much as I can on the visit."

The Irish have played host to Nelson. Iowa has done the same on multiple occasions, including one trip where he spent extensive time with the school's world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, Ned Amendola.

With the three schools all offering what Nelson seeks in a college, his decision will not be an easy one.

"It's going to come down to which one feels right," he said. "It's going to be almost a gut feeling, I guess."

Here's what Nelson said about his finalists before beginning visits this coming week. They're listed in alphabetical order:

Iowa - "I just really love the coaches and the way they interact with the players. They're typical Iowa people. They're down to earth. They're willing to put in the day's work when need be.

"I can definitely tell that in the past offseason. You could tell that all of the kids were not satisfied with last year's work. They said their weight (lifting) numbers and their academics were all through the roof this past semester. You can definitely tell that they're working. And their academics in my field are among the best in the nation.

Notre Dame - "They also have Iowa guys on their staff so you can definitely see that they're down-to-earth people as well. Coach (Mike) Elston and Coach (Bob) Elliott are really fun guys to be with. Academics, again, are among the top in the nation as well.

Stanford - I haven't really met all of the coaches yet so I can't really discuss that aspect. Their (football) program is built on tradition and the past few years have just been dominant. Academics is top, in like, the world.

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