Rutgers Center Derrick Nelson: Playing Fast & Buying In

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- In preparation for a second season as the Rutgers football team's starting center, Derrick Nelson broke down why a culture change came naturally to the program.

Derrick Nelson on spring game…

“You know, it was really good. The spring game is as close to it gets to a real game in the offseason. I felt really comfortable with the offensive line and the offensive unit in the no-huddle offense. We’ve been in it for about three or four months in the meetings and stuff, fixing the kinks out. I think there are still more improvements that we need to make. But all in all, I think we moved pretty well and we were productive out there.”

On running no huddle…

“The biggest thing is when we make a big play. That’s a huge confidence booster. It increased the morale amongst the offense, especially the offensive line. Me as the center, what I want to do is get those guys up there like Dorian Miller and Tariq [Cole], I just want to tell them ‘this is the time.’ Coach [AJ] Blazek always tells us this is the time we need to step on the gas. On [Justin] Goodwin’s touchdown, that was the big thing. We were trying to push, as soon as Janarion [Grant] caught that ball, we need to get down there. We scored. It worked out pretty well.”

On culture change…

“The huge thing that we’re working on is competitive excellence. The three things that we like to talk about in our culture is relentless strength, competitive excellence and brotherhood of trust. I really think the biggest thing we’ve been working on as a team is the competitive excellence part. Every Saturday, we have this thing called competition Saturdays. I think that’s really helped this team push itself.”

Why buy in?

“I mean, 4-8 is a pretty bad feeling. We were, at that point when coach [Kyle] Flood got fired, I think we were looking for guidance at that point. Coach Ash really helped with that along with his staff, and I appreciate that.”

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