Nelson talks Stanford visit, academics

Because of his versatility and skills at the cornerback position, Arizona athlete Keanu Nelson looms as a priority target for the Stanford coaching staff as the Cardinal's 2010 recruiting starts to enter the stretch run.

A three-way star for Sabino High School in Tucson, Ariz., Nelson has picked up 14 offers from schools around the country, but has started to narrow down his list.

In no particular order, Nelson lists a top six of Stanford, Utah, Arizona, Washington, UCLA and USC. He holds offers from each of his favorites, save for USC.

Earlier this week, The Bootleg caught up with the three-star athlete to get the inside scoop on his recruitment and what he likes about his top schools.

Stanford: "Everybody knows what goes along with Stanford when you bring up the name," Nelson said. "Education-wise its name precedes itself – it's the Ivy of the West Coast. I feel their program is becoming better - obviously they wouldn't have gotten the amount of commitments that they have if it wasn't.

Arizona: "Tucson is always going to be my home. U of A is like ten minutes away from my house. Their program is coming off of a big bowl win and being so close to home, the things that they want to do in the football year, I think is just great.

Utah: "They also had a big bowl win. They're actually recruiting me for offense a little bit more, which makes them appealing and just the amount of success that their program has had and has been having is appealing.

Washington: "It's kind of the same as Arizona because my dad's side of the family is almost exclusively based in Seattle. Again the support makes them appealing. Not only that, but not where the program has necessarily been, but where it is going [excites me]. UCLA: "I had a chance to see their campus and it was beautiful. I talk to Coach Neuheisel and the staff pretty frequently. They're very supportive and their program is going to a good place. California is a great place and I love the state.

USC: "I like the same thing with USC as I do with Utah. Their success is the first thing you think of when you think of that program. It's also a strong academic school."

Out of those six finalists, Nelson has taken unofficial visits to UCLA, USC, and Arizona. He hopes to take a few official visits in the fall, but only has one trip set up at this point.

"We have a bye week October 23 and Stanford has a home game that coincides with that," Nelson said. "That's the only one I have set up [at this time.]"

Is there anything in particular Nelson is looking to find out about Stanford?

"I'd like to find out where the athletes live, specifically where freshman live," Nelson said. "I guess you could say I'd like to see a typical day during the season and in the offseason and things like that, especially for the first-year players when they're still kind of getting their feet wet."

With a hectic football and academic schedule, Nelson isn't sure he'll have the chance to take more than one or two official visits before making a commitment.

"Ideally, I would like to, but I have to be realistic and I don't think I'll have time to take all of my official visits," Nelson said. "I'm going to try to but I don't know if I'll have time to."

But for now, Nelson's focus is primarily on his senior football season. After spending the summer rehabilitating a partially torn meniscus, Nelson is ready to help lead his team in what he hopes will be a historic season.

"Well, obviously, when you come into the season, you always want to win," Nelson said. "That's my first goal. We always want to win a state championship. We want to get there no matter what and do whatever it takes. Another thing is I would like to try is to win every game. I definitely think we can accomplish that. We definitely need to stay focused but I think we have the potential to do that."

And if Sabino's season opening demolition of rival Sahuaro High School last Thursday is any indication, an undefeated season just might be a possibility. On the road in front of a boisterous crowd, Nelson helped lead Sabino to a 54-17 victory.

"Well I think it was a great game because we played our rival school and they came ready to play and had a lead in the first quarter," Nelson said. "But we had a great second half and bounced back and I think that shows the mark of a good team being able to bounce back from something like that. I think that shows the mark of a championship team and we played in a pretty hostile environment at their house with packed stands on both sides so I think that also shows that we can endure that; we can play on the road."

In the classroom, Nelson is taking four courses this term, including AP Government and honors English, as he works towards graduation. He says he has already started work on the Stanford application, and has had several discussions with Cardinal recruiting coordinator Lance Anderson about what the admissions process.

"We talked about test scores and things like that. We've had a couple of conversations about that process and for the most part it pretty much checks out," Nelson said.

Nelson says he has a 3.62 unweighted GPA and a 1550 SAT score that he might retake.

"I'm going to talk it over with Coach Anderson more because I think they were talking about my math score being a little bit higher and definitely if they think that retaking it is a good idea then I think retaking it is a good idea. But for right now I'm comfortable with the score but if I need to retake it at the end of fall or whenever, then I'll retake it."

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