That offer hasn't come because of Nelson's lack of talent. A 6-foot-7, 285-pound three-star offensive lineman from Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Ill., Nelson had surgery in January for a stretched labrum, which he injured during the last game of his junior season.
Declaring himself 100 percent healthy for his upcoming senior season after a rigorous rehabilitation schedule, Nelson's first two games will go along way in determining his future.
"I've always loved Wisconsin, even since I was a little kid," Nelson told Badger Nation. "They basically just want to see how I perform that first game with my shoulder. They like how I move and my technique, but they want to make sure I am fully healed before extending an offer."
Visiting Wisconsin for the Badgers' junior day, Nelson was able to get a first-hand look at facilities and get an education in the tradition UW has of producing NFL-quality linemen.
"I love how the linemen at Wisconsin have success after their careers are done," Nelson said. "NFL is my first choice for a job career, and with the amazing tradition they have, I would love to become a football player there."
Vanderbilt is in the same boat as Wisconsin, waiting to see how Nelson reacts to live competition. Nelson got a close look at Vanderbilt during a summer camp, an impression that made Nelson list the Commodores as one of his other favorites.
"Vanderbilt is a great academic school and I have some friends on the team," Nelson said. "It's exciting that both of my favorites might offer."
Wisconsin and Vanderbilt aren't alone in seeing how Nelson responds to the surgery, as Iowa and Notre Dame have expressed some interest. Right now, Nelson has no problems favoring UW and Vanderbilt over his other offers from Boston College, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Louisville, Toledo and Western Kentucky, simply because of the tradition and impression the two coaching staffs have made on him.
Wisconsin Secondary Coach Chris Ash has been the lead recruiter for Nelson since Nelson's former recruiting contact, Randall McCray, left the program. With no solid in-state tackle prospects in the 2011 recruiting class, Ash has made sure to not let Nelson slip through the cracks, making him one of the first prospects he connected with.
"It's developed pretty well," Nelson said. "We've both had busy schedules, but it's starting to pick up now. We email weekly back and forth. He seems like a great guy and a great coach."
Smart off the field (3.4 core GPA and a 28 ACT) and strong in the weight room (bench 255 pounds and squat 400 pounds), Nelson is looking forward to getting back on the field and showing schools what he can do when he is 100 percent healthy.
"My footwork and technique in general is what I like the most about my play," Nelson said. "I think I have pretty good speed for my size and that I can surprise some people off the line. I am looking forward to getting back out there and showing coaches what I can do."