Blue Chip countdown: Nelson thrives in versatile role
The Detroit News continues its countdown of the top 15 Blue Chip recruits for 2017 with Scott Nelson of U-D Jesuit at No. 14.
Scott Nelson made the most of his senior year at U-D Jesuit after having to miss several games due to injuries, showing his ability to play at a high level in all three phases on the field.
Nelson, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound three-star safety, received offers from Michigan and Michigan State, but ultimately picked Wisconsin over Penn State and Iowa earlier this month as coaches from the Wolverines and Spartans stopped communicating with him late in the process.
Nelson played multiple positions — quarterback, safety and punt returner — to help Jesuit to a 6-3 record, including a 26-17 Division 2 pre-district loss to Oak Park. It was the first time Jesuit had consecutive winning seasons since 2001-02, and also the first time it defeated Warren De La Salle in 11 years.
“I enjoyed being put in different situations,” Nelson said. “I had to sit out multiple games because I was hurt and that was really difficult for me to do, but I had to do it. There was multiple ways where I could have gone about the situation. I could have just sat there and moped around and pouted, but I think it gave me a chance to be a really good teammate and leader without being able to lead and make something happen on the field.
“I was able to be a vocal leader and find a way to help the younger kids who were forced into playing time. I think that will help me out in the long run.”
Nelson was plagued by an high ankle sprain suffered on the opening kickoff in the season opener. He showed his toughness by returning in the second half of the game to lead Jesuit to a 23-14 victory over Detroit Mumford.
After missing four games, Nelson returned against Michigan-bound linebacker Corey Malone-Hatcher and St. Joseph, throwing touchdown passes of 45, 55 and 66 yards and scoring on a 65-yard punt return in a 48-13 victory.
Still, it was Jesuit’s 49-35 comeback win over Catholic League rival De La Salle in Week 7 that was Nelson’s highlight.
“The De La Salle game was probably the most fun I had in a long time,” Nelson said. “De La Salle is my biggest rival. I hate them the most. I played quarterback in that game and I played terrible in the first half. I had three total turnovers, fumbled the ball once and had two interceptions.
“At halftime, it was just kind of like a gut check where I could have folded and played terrible the rest of the game, but I had to pick it up and play well and we ended up winning. Elijah Collins played really well that game, scored four touchdowns.”
Nelson scored on a 16-yard run to give Jesuit a 42-35 lead, then added a 41-yard touchdown run to cap off the victory. He finished with for 105 yards rushing and 151 passing, including a 78-yard touchdown pass.
So, why did Nelson pick Wisconsin? Badgers coach Paul Chryst and his staff recruited him as a safety, but he could also play receiver.
“They have everything I needed, everything I wanted and the people there were the type of people I want to be around,” said Nelson, who has a 3.2 GPA and could major in business management or psychology.
“They have a great program that’s been successful. They have a great AD (Barry Alvarez) and they have a great coaching staff. They also have great academics and have a great campus and social life where I can have a good time there.”
Nelson understands the recruiting business, a reason he wasn’t bothered by Michigan and Michigan State backing off.
“They both offered me kind of early in the process, then they each got a couple of commitments and the relationship kind of faded, and I understand that since you only have a certain amount of spots,” Nelson said.
Nelson and Collins were key members of Jesuit’s Class A state championship basketball team last year. They are trying to help Jesuit (7-2) repeat this winter.
Nelson, an outstanding perimeter shooter and defender, feels Collins will be a great football player at the next level. Collins, a junior, plays multiple positions, including cornerback, linebacker, running back, receiver and return man.
“I think Elijah will be special in college,” Nelson said. “His playmaking ability on both sides of the field is outstanding. He can impact the game from so many points on the field and I think in the next couple of months he’ll receive some offers, which will turn some heads.
“I think he’s definitely a Big Ten-type player. I think he can go to a great Big Ten school and I think he will.”
DETROIT NEWS BLUE CHIP LIST COUNTDOWN
No. 14: Scott Nelson, S, U-D Jesuit (Wisconsin)