Committed Over: Former forestville (MD) Suitland cornerback Nick Nelson committed to Hawaii over offers from North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central and Temple. Wisconsin was the only school Nelson focused on following his decision to transfer.
Rated: Nelson was rated a two-star cornerback in the 2014 recruiting class by Scout.com
On Film: Don’t let the ranking fool you; Nelson is a tough, talented kid who knows how to win. At 6-foot, and 200 pounds, Nelson’s ball skills and athleticism stand out. Never mind that he fractured his thumb and had to wear a forearm-length cast for a handful of games in the middle of his senior season, as Nelson finished with 20 catches for 503 yards and five touchdowns. He also picked off two passes with his cast, a reason he was named the team’s MVP for his efforts.
A combination of speed and strength, Nelson has a ton of experience for only being a sophomore (23 games). He’s a solid, aggressive tackler (69 of his 89 tackles are solo stops), has a nose for the football (21 pass breakups, two forced fumbles) and has played against some top competition with Hawaii’s demanding nonconference schedules.
Nelson still has a lot of room to improve in his game but already has a solid foundation of skills. After a year where he can focus solely on his game, he has the chance to make a big leap.
Recruiting Impact: It’s about to get real interesting at the University of Wisconsin. Crunching the unofficial numbers, the Badgers entered this summer with 82 of their 85 maximum scholarships accounted for and 13 scholarship seniors, meaning the Badgers could sign a 16 member class. With 10 committed prospects, Deron Harrell being on scholarship in January and two transfers coming in this fall (we’re assuming they aren’t paying their own way), the Badgers are sitting at 13 incoming kids. Wait, there’s more. Leon Jacobs – listed as a senior – is a prime candidate for medical redshirt after missing most of last season with a toe injury. If he gets last year back, Wisconsin is down to 12 scholarship seniors.
Add that all up and the Badgers have two scholarships remaining. There’s also the question of when, not if, Ryan Ramczyk will be put on scholarship, especially since he’s a near lock to be the team’s starting left tackle. As much as he wants to put Ramczyk on scholarship, he might be forced to wait.
At this point, three-star Florida linebacker James Houston has to be the top target for UW. After that is anybody’s guess, but the Badgers have added depth at every position during this cycle, so anything from this point forward is icing on the cake for them.
Quotable: “I loved it. There’s no other place I’d rather be. I loved everything about it. I like all the coaches. They are like family, and the players are real cool.” – Nelson following his official visit to Wisconsin in late April.
Final Thought: Wisconsin entered this recruiting cycle knowing it needed to improve its depth in the secondary, which was hit hard with graduation following the 2015 season and not accurately addressed in the 2015 recruiting class (UW signed only one cornerback in four-star Titus Booker). With a small class, UW got a talented high school cornerback (three-star Madison Cone) and a college prospect in Nelson with real game experience. Not only with Nelson get a year to adjust to the program and the teachings of secondary coach Jim Leonhard, he’ll be reunited with long-time friend Taiwan Deal to get him into a groove from the minute he gets on campus.