With scholarship offers from the last two National Champions to his credit, Gainesville HS (Gainesville, FL) linebacker Kevin Nelson is one of the top linebacker prospects in the Southeast.
To go along with his tenders from recent Champions Florida and LSU, the 6-1, 218-pound prospect also has offers from programs like South Carolina, UCF, Arkansas, Louisville and Kentucky. He is also hearing from in-state ACC programs, Florida State and Miami.
Nelson's high school is literally just a couple of miles from the Florida campus and he has visited the UF campus multiple times. And some sources believe the Gators could be the team to beat. But at least publicly, Nelson claims no favorites.
"Nah, there's not a top five; every school right now has a chance," he said. "My options are open right now to any and every school right now that gives me a scholarship offer."
The productive linebacker, who tallied 125 tackles on his way to earning First-team All-Area last season, still had very positive things to say about the hometown Gators.
"They're right there in my backyard, and it's pretty good to get included and get a scholarship offer from them and everything," he said. "And their program seems pretty upcoming and everything is one the upside for the Florida Gators right now. Besides the 100 percent graduation rate with the academics and the 13 of the seniors that were on the team last year graduated, besides that the football program is pretty good, the coaches interact with the coaches pretty well. They have a relationship everyone, their families and all that. They have a pretty good football program over there."
Nelson also has a strong interest in the other recent National Champion that has offered. Nelson plans to visit LSU unofficially this summer. When asked if he knew where he would take official visits to, after a long pause in thought, the one school he was sure enough of to list was LSU. The Tigers were also the first program to send Nelson a letter.
"I can say about the football the way I see it, the defense plays football and the offense plays football, they're very physically. I would say they're a mean football program when they're playing on Saturday. But other than that, the academic part of it, they're a great school. They're a good program, and it's another thing that they won the National Championship I think two years ago. That's a big thing that they offered me. It's a pretty good school to go to; I would like to go there and play football, but right now my options are open."
Nelson also plans a summer visit to South Carolina. He is impressed with what he has heard about the USC defense.
"South Carolina, I remember hearing something about them last year during the fall about them being like the No. 1 defense in the SEC or the NCAA or whatnot. But I grew up under Steve Spurrier's philosophy. You know, the spread offense, the 4-3 defense, I grew up under his philosophy watching him on Saturday mornings when I was little. It's a good school. Steve Spurrier is one of the best coaches, I think, ever to coach the game. And he's got his son right beside him, his right-hand man. So, they're a school - I'm considering that school, and even though I don't really know much about the academic part of it, besides the football thing they're a pretty good school. They're on my list also."
USC wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier, Jr. is recruiting the talented LB for the Gamecocks. Nelson says he hasn't gotten to know Spurrier, Jr. very well yet, but he does plan on calling him in the near future.
With so much interest in and from SEC programs, Nelson didn't want to cut out any other conferences. But he did admit his strong feelings for the SEC.
"I'm interested in the SEC and the ACC as a matter of fact. Well, I'm interested in a lot of conferences, but right now the conferences that are really giving me offers are the SEC and hopefully the ACC will come around because I like the ACC pretty well too, you know the Miami and the Dukes and the Virginia Techs - I like those schools too defensively. But the SEC right now, I love the SEC. Everyone talks about the southern style of football."
The self-proclaimed "film junkie" says if he isn't on the film or doing homework that he is normally studying film. He says that is a big part of what he brings to the table as an all-around student athlete and all-around linebacker.
"I have pretty good good size, so I shed blocks. I make tackles," he said. "I make the play come back inside. I drop by into coverage and keep my feet moving looking from left to right, sideline to sideline. That whole thing, it comes into one big whole, and that's what I bring to the defense. Not just the hard-hitting, but helping out my players on the defense to get tackles too, and setting them up for plays too."
The all-around linebacker has a definite plan for when he will announce his decision if everything works out.
"If I'm lucky enough to attend the Under Armour All-American game," he says. "I will most definitely have my decision made on that night. If not, if I couldn't attend that game, sometime probably around late November, early December... I'll probably have my school narrowed down to maybe three. And then I'll make my decision sometime in January before I leave for school."
While Nelson claims no favorites at this time in the process, he does know exactly what he is looking for in a program.
"I want to find the whole thing in a school. Where I can go in as a true freshman - and redshirting, there's nothing wrong with redshirting because you get an extra year - but hopefully coming in as a freshman and impressing all the coaches and defensive coordinator and showing them that I can play football at an early stage coming in as a true freshman. Getting a good education. I'm most definitely, if there is a chance for me to go to the NFL, I would not leave my junior year. I would definitely stay my four years and get my degree. And then I would enter the draft of the NFL if I'm lucky enough. But I just want to go to the school where I'm loved at, the players interact with the coaches, the players interact with other players, and it's a big family. You can get a good education, you can play football, and just have fun."
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