"He was in such a state of rage, I would ask, ‘Are you all right? You all right?' " said coach Rick Houchens, who is entering his third season at Archbishop Carroll. "He would get that intense. …He doesn't back off anything."
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Nelson gave Rutgers a non-binding oral commitment Monday when he called coach Greg Schiano, and Houchens gave ScarletReport.com a breakdown of what type of player the Scarlet Knights are getting.
"He's got great feet," Houchens said. "So when you get a 6-3, 280-pound guy that has great feet …when coaches saw his film it was impressive. Then, when they saw him in person, they got to see him athletically, foot speed, moving through bags and change-of-direction drills. When they saw him in 1-on-1 drills with pass blocking and run blocking, he was just exceptional."
The Scarlet Knights' coaching staff saw Nelson under a microscope during the Big Man Academy in June, and he performed well enough to earn an offer.
Nelson's strength, which is his athleticism, also fits the Scarlet Knights' offense well.
"They do a lot of pull blocks, a lot of second-level blocks, and Derrick loves to get into space," Houchens said. "He loves to get to that 1-on-1 where he can drill a guy. That's one of the things that's driven him when I first met him.
"He said, The thing that drives me, excites me the most, is when I get a chance to pull and get a chance to drive him and pancake him.' And he's rolling his hands around like he has a ball, like a mad scientists. He's like a train, and whoever is on the track gets smashed. That's the thought process he has."
Nelson transferred from Wise High (Upper Marlboro, Md.) to Archbishop Carroll to play during Houchens' first season, and the progress made in the weight room and the comfort level he is enjoying on the field grew immensely.
"He's one of those guys where the best is still ahead of him," Houchens said. "He's improved across the board, but it's his passion, I think to me, with all the guys I have in the NFL and at major (colleges), to me, that's that difference maker in when you become an exceptional player. He's got that inner drive. He's not going to be content until he gets there."
In making the decision, Nelson spent a lot of time speaking with Houchens, who understands Rutgers' need to upgrade its offensive line talent while also fitting in academically, and socially.
"I think he's a great fit for a program that is really getting established on the national map," Houchens said. "It's his opportunity to play early, and the system fits him perfectly. The other thing I credit to the staff at Rutgers is that one thing we always look for …is once they see you, when someone makes no bones about it and offers you when they see you that day, or the next day. That means they have a purpose, and they have a plan for you.
"I think it's a great fit for him, and his family, and a great opportunity for your program, and a feather in our cap to get a player to a major program. We're extremely excited. Derrick and I spent a lot of time talking …and he made a really wise decision based on really good judgment."