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The Gazette KCRG
Posted January 14, 2013
Xavier’s Nelson suddenly a man in demand in two sports

Cedar Rapids Xavier's Matt Nelson. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS – Paul Rhoads came to visit him in school Friday. So did Kirk Ferentz.

He has recent letters from Nick Saban and Chip Kelly at home. It seems suddenly everyone in college football circles knows who he is.

Cedar Rapids Xavier junior Matt Nelson is still trying to wrap his head around it all.

“It has picked up a lot the last month or so,” Nelson said of the recruiting attention. “It’s kind of strange being a kid from Iowa and having those big-name coaches sending you letters.”

Saban, of course, is the head coach of the national championship Alabama Crimson Tide. Kelly has some experience recruiting on 42nd St. NE, since he nabbed Christian French from Cedar Rapids Kennedy for his Oregon Ducks.

French is a red-shirt freshman defensive lineman. That’s one of three positions these college coaches are telling Nelson they see him being able to play at the major-college level: defensive end, tight end and tackle.

That latter thing is despite him not having offensive line experience since he was in sixth grade. Coaches see his solid 6-foot-8 frame and wonder how good he could be there if he gains significant weight.

What position does he prefer?

“Defense,” Nelson said. “I love chasing down quarterbacks.”

Of course, there’s no telling what sport Nelson ultimately will choose to play in college. He has legit D-I basketball offers from schools like Rice, South Dakota State, North Dakota, North Dakota State and Northern Colorado.

While the attention is increasing for him football wise, there are still no offers officially on the table. Nelson is an excellent student, by the way, who wants to be an orthopedic surgeon.

“I’m keeping all my options open right now,” he said. “I have so many emotions. It’s overwhelming, but it’s cool to know that I get to pick what I want to do (in college).

“I still have no idea what I’m going to do. It’s wide open. (The increased football interest) sways me a little bit, yeah. But I’ve still got basketball. I don’t have any offers in football, yet.”

You figure that will change sometime soon. Nelson is scheduled to attend Iowa’s official “Junior Day” for junior recruits this Saturday in Iowa City.

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