Jacksonville Jaguars: Getting the Whole Nelson
by Jennifer Jordan
The recent NFL draft not only gave us, the fans, a chance to look more closely at collegiate talent, but it also gave each NFL team a chance to fill voids they’ve noticed during the previous seasons. Filling these voids will help teams start fresh in August. For the Jacksonville Jaguars, the 2007 draft not only gave them an All-American free safety, but it also gave the Jaguars a bit of a steal. You have to watch those cats, they can be quite sly.
From the start of the draft, the Jaguars had their sights set on Reggie Nelson: he was their man. But, instead of drafting him with the 17th pick, they took a gamble, and traded down to the 21st pick, hoping he would still be available. Not only did doing this give Jacksonville two additional draft picks, but the gamble paid off: they still got the man they were after. It was a win, win, and win some more situation for the Jaguars.
As for Reggie Nelson the man, he was born on September 25, 1985, and attended high school in Florida. Here, he was a two-time All-State first team selection for class 4A and a sought-after football recruit. Nelson eventually chose to attend the University of Florida but soon found that his trials and tribulations paralleled those from the movie Rudy when he was not able to get in: he hadn’t met their academic requirements. Refusing to give up on his dream, Nelson enrolled in Coffeyville Community College and eventually led them to a third place finish in the NJCAA polls. That season included an 86-0 playoff win with Nelson at the center of the defense.
When Nelson finally arrived at the University of Florida, expectations were high and he met, if not exceeded, the bar. As the 2005 season began, Nelson started at free safety and in 2006, Nelson’s collegiate career came to fruition. He soon became known as a great back by coaches and as “The Eraser” by teammates and fans for his ability to erase mistakes of defensive assignments missed.
Selected for the Leadership Committee as the 2006 season began, Nelson proved to be a leader both on and off the field. The season saw him finish with 47 tackles, six interceptions, a fumble recovery, and a 70 yard defensive touchdown. Nelson was a finalist for the Thorpe Award and the Nagurski Trophy and served as the anchor of the Florida defense that helped the Gators win their first football national championship in ten years. This win, unfortunately, soon took a backseat to his personal troubles when Nelson lost his mother to breast cancer a few days before Christmas.
In the end, Nelson’s final collegiate stats included 29 games started, 182 tackles made, 125 tackles made solo, five sacks, two fumbles caused, four fumbles recovered, seven kicks blocked, 13 interceptions made and two touchdowns. As for his final NFL stats, ask us in about twenty years.