Battling Bad Blood

Until the last minute, freshman linebacker Corey Nelson was set to head to College Station to join the Texas A&M Aggies.

But that all changed when he decided to switch his commitment to the Sooners, and this weekend for the first time, he'll face a crowd that's bitter about that decision when OU takes on the Aggies at 6 p.m. at Kyle Field.

"Throughout the newspapers, you know, they were criticizing me about my decision," Nelson said. "On Facebook they were criticizing me, you know, throughout the Internet, just different fans. It can go on and on. It's a huge list from fans to scouts. The list can go on and on."

Ultimately though, regardless of the manner in which it went down and how people on each side felt, Nelson said he just had to do what was best for himself, and that involved coming to Norman.

"Just the coaching staff [swung my decision], you know, being able to understand what Coach [Venables] had planned for me," Nelson said. "He had a foundation planned out for me, my whole life. With A&M, it was pretty unsure. You know, things were iffy there. They were firing coaches and things just didn't seem right at that moment."

With that in mind, he made the decision to come to OU and said now it's time to look ahead.

"I just put that in my past," Nelson said. "You know, what was done in the past is over with now, and I just plan on moving on."

All along, it wasn't as if the Sooner coaching staff was being pushy with the 6-foot-1, 208 lb. backer from Dallas Skyline.

"You know, I just tried to check back and see if there was any interest," Venables said. "Sometimes things change. I understand, and I gave him months of silence, and, you know, [I] felt that he had a good family and made an informed decision, but just checked back later over the holidays to see if there would be any interest, and he said that there was."

Throughout the process, Nelson was very thorough in making the best decision.

"Yes, some of them refuse to listen, and [it] doesn't mean it's always the best place, though, either," Venables said. "So, it's up to the individual, you know? But yeah, I mean, he was very consistent on asking questions and again continuing to want more and more information and, you know, obviously wanted facts to back certain things up.

"And I think that we tried to do our best to give him great clarity on what his experience would be like starting with day one, and that makes the decision, you know, a little bit more easier for a young guy if he can start to really see it all happen for him."

Perhaps the instability with firing coaches simply was just enough to blur his vision on what his experience would be like at Texas A&M, and that led to a last minute recruiting snag.

"It's probably rare for us," Venables said. "We don't have it happen for us as much, but a lot of places that's how it does happen, but for us around here having been finished really for so long, it was a nice surprise, to say the least."

Since that point, he's fit into the system behind weak side linebacker Travis Lewis, accepting a learning role there instead of working at the MIKE position, where he possibly could have started.

"I like it a lot," Nelson said. "I enjoy, you know, the competition and working hard with Travis Lewis and all my other teammates. I enjoy it. It's a very grateful situation to be in, and I'm very blessed to say that I'm enjoying this opportunity that I have."

And he's starting to grasp the defensive schemes better as well.

"I am feeling more and more confident with understanding the defense more throughout the days that we practice," Nelson said. "I understand it a lot, and I feel very confident in it."

But this week, despite coming along as a young player, he'll have to put up with the effects of his decisions from both sides.

For A&M fans, it's bitterness.

As for OU, the team has been giving him a bit of a hard time.

"The worst I heard was, you know, Travis would be like, ‘Ain't this your school right here, man?'" Nelson said. "He's like, ‘They don't look too good right now.' And he just told me, ‘You made a good choice.' And I mean, it wasn't really the worst thing that I've heard. Some of the things I can't really tell you what they tell me."

It's all in good humor, though, at least from the Crimson and Cream side of things.

"But it's quite funny, though," Nelson said.

Not so much for the other side.

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