Keanu Nelson just fine with the title athlete

You call a football player an "athlete" nowadays, you are likely to get that look. It's like you just said that you couldn't do any one thing good enough to fit any one position. That, of course, isn't always the case. Take Keanu Nelson for example: He likes the term "athlete" just fine.

Players don't want to be regarded as situational guys. You know, a third-down back, a two-down interior defensive tackle or even a "Nickel." But at the same time many don't like the blanket term "athlete" either. It means to some that you aren't good enough at one position to be considered one of the best there, but you are still a very good player, and maybe you might fit another place on the field. If you look in a recruiting database, you will often find more punters than you will players listed simply as an "athlete." Most don't like that.

Of course, it didn't work too badly for Reggie Bush.

But don't tell that to Keanu Nelson.

At 5-11, 175 pounds and running a reported 4.5-40, yeah, that's a good athlete. But he's got the kind of numbers you need to back it up:

75 rushes for 571 yards and seven scores 21 receptions for 480 yards and three scores 3 returns for scores, two of them in the punt-game

In addition, he earned First-Team All-Region as a cornerback and even as an all-purpose player.

That sounds like an athlete to me.

"I like being thought of as someone who you could use on both sides of the ball or in special teams if that's what you need. I know most of the schools which have offered me have said that they just like what I can do," Nelson said, pointing to the 13 offers he has right now, with only Stanford and BYU offering him for a specific position (corner). "I'll play any position I'm needed to play. That's how comfortable I am on the field."

The amount of offers Nelson has at this point seem to cement his ability enough that there's really no reason to go into it. While rankings may disagree to an extent sometimes, it's doubtful 13 schools can be wrong.

So, it then comes down to what Nelson likes, is looking for and how he perceives this wild and crazy mess that is recruiting. He says it all starts at the same place. "I have been taught since I was a little kid that it's school first and athletics second. So, academics are easily the priority for me," he said. "There are things I am obviously interested in when it comes to the athletic side, but the academic side has to be satisfied before I even get into that."

Nelson prides himself on the amount of research he's done, trying to keep up with all the schools which have offered him up to this point. He knows where they are, who the coaches are, what is good about the team and the program. As I will eventually lead to during the course of any recruiting conversation, Nebraska, of course, came up. And this is what he had to say. "I know they have more Academic All-Americans than anyone. I know that the football program is really the only major thing they have in the state, and they have a great tradition. Their atmosphere there is supposed to be something else," he said. "And I really like Coach Brown. He was recruiting me very early in the process."

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that Arizona, a region Brown heavily recruits now, is one of the same regions he recruited when he served as the WR/TE Coach under Tom Osborne not so very long ago. It's the same region he pulled out players like Mike Brown. Nelson isn't that familiar with the Huskers that he might be able to drop that little bit of trivia on you, but of what he knows of this Brown, he's been pleased thus far. "He's a great guy. He has a lot of passion for what he does, and there's a lot of sincerity in how he speaks," Nelson said of the second-year Tight Ends Coach for the big red. "We have had some good conversations, and with him you know it's about a lot more than just football."

Nelson said that Nebraska was amongst the many who came in during the Evaluation Period and made the one call they were allowed. But before and since he said that the communication has been consistent, at least when Nelson himself has the time. "I get so busy sometimes, that I can't really talk to the coaches as much as I would like to. It's important to establish those relationships, and I try to stay as up with that as I can," he said. "But I have formed great relationships with a lot of coaches like Coach Brown, and I know come the season when they can call, I'll be hearing from them a lot."

Now football does come into the equation, of course. Keanu prioritizes education over everything, but he thinks about what's happening on the field as well. He's been thinking about his visits and camps, a few of which aren't concrete, but possible for the future. "I attended a camp at the University of Arizona, but I was doing it only as a visitor. I didn't participate in the actual camp," he said. "And I'm not sure, but maybe I'll head to Arizona State, Oregon State and maybe that Rising Stars Camp at USC.

"There are some of these schools which are closer that I'd like to visit unofficially. But there are some others which are far enough away, it might make more sense to take those as official visits. It's just more practical."

Nelson isn't saying which schools those might be though.

Point of fact, as equal as he has tried to treat all 13 schools which have offered him, that's how he says his list stands right now. "There's no time for favorites until you have had the opportunity to look at or research all the schools you are looking at. I haven't really even though about that right now," he said. "But I am hoping that by the beginning of my season I'll have a smaller list so that I can focus a lot on my school and my final season.

"There are a lot of great programs out there, and I am just trying to make sure that I take the time and learn as much about each as I can. It's one of the biggest decisions of my life."

Oh, and call him an "athlete" if you see him. He doesn't mind at all. "I just want to play, and I am thankful that I have the kind of versatility that coaches see me playing all over," he said. "That means I get to stay on the field." ."

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