"I actually just found out today I got admitted to Stanford," Nelson said in a Wednesday interview with TheBootleg.com. "Coach Harbaugh called me. I missed his first call, but he called me back. He said, ‘I have news for you,' so I kind of knew what he may be talking about, and then he went ahead and said it. I was excited, to say the least."
Nelson's admission comes at a fortuitous time for the Cardinal, as the athlete had started to look at other schools – and ended up in an awkward situation with the University of Washington.
"When I committed, I was solid and I never really wavered," he said. "But still, I kind of looked at some schools. I had scheduled an official visit with Washington, but then they decided they wouldn't honor it because they didn't think they had room for me in the class. We had non-refundable tickets to Washington, so we still went up there and saw my dad's family though. … But all that really doesn't matter. Since I've been admitted, I'm completely 110 percent Stanford. Stanford is my school. I was that way from the beginning, but getting admitted obviously adds to the fact."
Washington must be recruiting like gangbusters not to have room for a consensus three-star athlete with offers from half the West Coast. And Nelson must have no shortage of confidence in himself to tell his story of what happened with the Huskies, instead of trying to spin or obfuscate like countless other recruits would.
Speaking of which, confidence after getting burned is a quality important everywhere on the football field, but perhaps nowhere more so than on the lonely island that is cornerback. Alas, Stanford is not yet sure onto which side of the ball the dual threat Nelson best projects.
"It's up in the air really," Nelson said. "Coach Anderson literally left my house minutes ago. They see me as wide receiver now. Not to be mean, but their backfield could use a little aid too. So wherever they decide to put me in camp, I'll go. I'm just happy to be on board and I'll do my job best way I can. … Coach Anderson says I'm potentially one of their only wide receivers in this recruiting class."
There's more to Nelson's life than the action between the hash marks, of course. For one thing, the Tusconite stars at two sports.
"I used to play basketball, but now I'm just working on my speed and strength [this winter]," he said. "But I'll most likely run track in the spring. I run the 200, the 4x1 and the 4x4."
Nelson reports a 200 time of about 23 flat and a 400 leg of around 52 seconds, which this reporter thinks is cruising, though Nelson was more modest.
"There's some fast dudes here!" he said. "I'm one of the slower ones in our 4x4. Some dudes can just move. … I hate that race though. It's now to the point where you have to run top speed almost the entire race, at near top speed. It's physically tough, mentally tough, everything like that."
They say iron sharpens iron, and for Nelson to grind out those 400's can only help him come summer ball in Palo Alto. When he gets to Stanford, though, it won't be all work. For one thing, he'll be able to reunite with his fellow 2010 commits.
"The main guy I talk to is Devon Carrington," he said. "Especially during season, we'd text and stuff. When he was on an official at Arizona, we were both there on the sidelines, so I saw him there. At the end of season, he and I were there at the Arizona Top 25 [Players] Awards, so that was good."
Additionally, of course, come June, Nelson will start on his classes and the conceiving of an academic plan.
"I'm thinking about majoring in PoliSci," he said. "I like the idea of being involved in politics because I've always had this knack to argue, and law was also the first thing I was thinking about. I was thinking about pre-law, but Condi Rice actually told me you don't need to major in prelaw to go to law school, so that was kind of cool. So I'll do an undergrad in political science and then, after football, law school, and see where that takes me."
If an interview as a high school senior is any guide, Nelson may have quite the future in politics. For one thing, he was transparent and honest about his travails with Washington – more than many of today's politicians could say, and always popular qualities with the voters. For another, he gave the perfectly politic answer when asked about Stanford's rotating coaching staff.
"As long as they're on board, I don't question coaches ever," he said. "The university thinks rationally and hires successful, good coaches. I'm sure in the back of your mind, everyone thinks about that [turnover], but in reality, I'm not interested in going to school just for a coach. It doesn't hurt to have Coach Harbaugh and Coach Shaw, but I'm there first to learn, and then to play football."
It's easy to forget, but beyond the top-15 recruiting class Stanford looks to ink on Feb. 3 are 25 or so high school seniors on the verge of one of the biggest tests of their lives, with fears and aspirations all their own. The Bootleg thanks Keanu Nelson for letting us into his life, and wishes him and all his future classmates all the best in the days and years to come.
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