Finding quality offensive tackles is always a priority. It’s a premium position and one that programs from across the country seek out no matter where a prospect may live. That’s a big reason why Orlando (Fla.) Boone is hearing the phone ring.
A player that was under 250 pounds two years ago is now college size and capable of handling his own against the top defensive prospects across the country. During the Varsity Sports Network Orlando Media Day, this young man took the time to discuss his recruitment and the upcoming football season with Inside The Knights.
Vitals: 6’6”, 285-pounds
Position: Offensive Tackle
High School: Orlando (Fla.) Boone
Recruitment: Nelson’s recruitment was very late. He did not have a single offer until this past January. Now he has over 20 scholarship offers from programs across the country.
Nelson took official visits to Pittsburgh (June 4), Miami (June 11), Utah (June 14), Louisville (June 18), and UCF (June 25). Additionally, Florida received multiple unofficial visits during the past couple of months. The Gators are definitely in play for Nelson’s services.
What year did you first start for your team?
“Halfway through my sophomore year. I started in the Oak Ridge game.”
What have you done to transform your body from 240-pounds to 285-pounds?
“Like, that whole sophomore year, I was in the weight room two times during the school day. I had two periods to workout. And, I was eating a lot. Staying hydrated, working out, going out to the field to give it a 100% effort. With agility, I was trying to be a different type of offensive lineman, not the big, slow lineman. I need to be balanced out in space.
Your team runs a spread offense. Is that why you trained the way you did because of the offense you run?
“Well, we’re going to the spread. Last year was wide zone. Basically it’s the same idea, just stepping to the outside and trying to beat them to the shoulder. Wide zone is more of a bucket step and then you power through with your other step. I think that’s more of a useful zone step to be honest.
“As an offensive line, as a team it works well because we all know each other. We’ve all been playing with each other since we were like eight (years old). At Boone, we all know each other quite a bit. We work as a team, not just individual athletes. We get a lot done, quicker and more efficiently.
What do you guys need to do to be better than last year?
“I just think mentally, our players just need to be in the game. We’ve been working on that so hard since last year. Like in the weight room, the younger kids, we’ve been pushing them. Seeing all the young kids give 100% effort. They’ve been pushing themselves to the max, especially in the heat here. It’s good to see that Boone is going to be a pretty good team for the years coming.”
Switching over to recruiting, when did you get your first offer?
“My first offer was January 22.”
“Yeah, I had 18 offers in 22 days.”
Who was the first school to offer?
“UCF, the old staff. From after that it was Pitt, Oregon, Miami was there, it was exciting.”
Growing up, which school did you root for?
“Well, moving over to Florida from Texas, I just watched all of Florida’s college teams. I was just trying to get used to it. My dad played at Missouri. I was just trying to understand the sport, and I grew up a tall, skinny kid, so I played wide receiver. In middle school I put on all my weight. So I started focusing on the offensive line only. Since then, I’ve probably only really watched Florida, Florida State, Miami and UCF games.”
What position do you want to play at the next level?
“I would be ideal at left tackle. I played right tackle my sophomore year, but I am just more efficient with my left leg. I’m right hand dominant but left leg dominant.
Is that what schools are recruiting you at, left tackle?
“They can play me at either tackle. If not, they can move me to center.”
Which schools have you taken an official visit to thus far?
“I’ve taken officials to Pitt, Miami, Utah, Louisville and UCF, but I visited like 15 schools during this June. Yeah, a big road trip in the Southeast.
Best part of the visit to UCF would be?
“Just the staff, seeing how genuine they are. Honestly, I’ve grown up in Orlando so UCF has always been heard. It’s not as exciting as other schools, but going there and seeing a whole different aspect of Orlando is good to know. I was just in the local area, not all the way out there in urban areas near University Boulevard. It’s just good to be out there to see that.”
What about Gus Malzahn?
“He is just himself actually. Like, he’s not being held back like he was at Auburn. He is himself. He can be himself at UCF and just be a huge person there. He’s just excited for the whole season, and the recruiting is going super well for UCF since he’s been there. So, it’s exciting.”
As far as UCF Offensive Line Coach Hand, what did you think of him?
“He knows a lot. He is very straight to the point. At the same time, he has a good time with you and gets you to understand the topic and understand the offensive scheme. Coming from our high school scheme and going to his, it’s somewhat similar. He’s helped me learn really quickly. He’s a good teacher. He shows me film at my position and how he wants me to run and all that. It’s good to have.”
University of Florida, Coach Hevesy is the offensive line coach. Give me something about him.
“Coach Hevesy understands me, like where I come from and like my family and all that. He’s straight to the point. He doesn’t mess around when he’s out on the football field. He gets you right; he doesn’t like you messing around. It’s football, it’s in the SEC. It’s how it should be.”
Same thing with Coach Mullen.
“Coach Mullen is much more approachable I could say. Like Hevesy is a little scary sometimes, but Coach Mullen he’s genuine, he’s respectful, he’s the Head Coach of Florida. So it’s a little nerve racking to go up and meet him, but once you have a conversation with him, he is good to talk with.
“He was out there just watching my workout and that meant a lot just seeing him there.”
What do you like about Florida, the campus, the school, the atmosphere?
“It’s well known. It’s a pretty campus. Like all the bricks, the same materials used all around (the school). I guess you could say, it’s like an ideal campus when you think of college, that’s something that could pop in your head. The football, and the facilities as well, that just adds on. You can get a good education there.”
How would you compare the facilities at UF to some of the other places you’ve been, like Louisville, some of the SEC schools?
“As of right now, Florida is up there, but they are adding like a whole new branch. So, that will be finished in 2022 I believe.”
Is it right next to the football stadium?
“It is, well, it’s adding on to their (Florida’s) indoor. They’re adding on this huge glass wall in the indoor and that’s going to be the coach’s offices. It’s going to be like a whole two story weight room and stuff. That’s what I’ve heard, so it’s exciting.”
When do you plan to make a college decision public?
“I don’t know about public. It is a lot of pressure. Am I making the right decision? Am I going too fast? Like all these scholarship opportunities are leaving. UCF only has one for an offensive lineman left. It’s like, I don’t know what to think. Then, Florida’s like rushing because everyone was committing at Friday Night Lights last night.
“It’s definitely nerve racking, but at the same time, do I play it cool and become a silent commit, I don’t know?”