Slot receiver/running back/returner Charles Nelson gave his verbal commitment to Oregon coaches over the weekend, confirmed in interviews with the Oregonian, Daytona Beach News-Journal and several recruiting websites.
His pledge makes 17 commitments for the Ducks, after Budda Baker backed out of a UO scholarship offer just 10 days ago.
Nelson is equally fast and shifty, dynamic with the ball in his hands. Coming off an ACL injury suffered in October of his junior year, he reeled off a 4.39 40-yard dash at a camp at the University of Florida, had 50 catches for 766 yards and nine touchdowns and averaged 48 yards a kick return as a senior, with four interceptions on defense. He quickly picked up scholarship bids from 18 schools, including Notre Dame, the Gators, Miami, West Virginia, Michigan State and USC. During a weekend visit to Eugene, he told receivers coach Matt Lubick and head coach Mark Helfrich he wanted to become a Duck.
Unlike Baker, Nelson loved it in Eugene. He told Brian Linder of the News-Journal, “When I got up there it wasn’t like I thought it would be. It was better. I loved it. I got up there, saw the town, and it reminded me of Daytona or Ormond Beach. It wasn’t huge. I fell in love with it then.”
Nelson also expressed excitement about a potential role in the fast-paced, explosive Oregon spread offense, which is similar to the attack he played in as a Florida 6A All-State player for the Seabreeze Sandcrabs. Lubick showed him a video with cutups of his highlights from last year interpersed with plays the Ducks ran for De'Anthony Thomas.
“They broke down my highlight tape, and put my plays up against plays that they ran and they were the exact same plays,” Nelson said to Linder. “They call them different things, but they are the same plays. Once I learn the signals and everything, I am in there.”
As a sophomore ran a 10.58 100, a 21.88 200 meters, sailed 24-1 in the long jump and hop, skipped and flew 45-2 in the triple jump. His senior football highlight video can be found HERE.
In addition to his track and football exploits, Hudl reports the blur-fast triple threat has a 37" vertical jump, squats 405 and benches 300, as much pound-for-pound athletic ability as any incoming freshman the Ducks have ever had. Compare him to Thomas, Baker or a Duck legend like Cristin McLemore, but Nelson might be a harder worker and more serious about his development.
On film, what jumps out are soft, natural hands receiving the ball, the ability to go over the middle on slant and in routes and come down with the football in traffic. He has great timing and body control, very dangerous in the screen game, hard to stay with on deep routes, accelerating quickly once he gets the ball. In addition to outstanding straight line speed, he cuts at full speed and runs precise. disciplined routes. sets up blocks extremely well and runs with great vision.
As a college player he'll have to break himself of the long zig-zags and risky reverses of field, because the pursuit is so much faster, but that's something he'll learn in practice. He's dynamic, a good student with great instincts, courage and talent. Coming back from an ACL injury and playing the way he has, fans have to know that this is a player with rare determination and heart. The way he hits on defense just confirms it.
Last spring as Charles was completing rehab, his high school coach Marc Beach told Linder, “He is a great character kid, makes good grades and stays out of the dean's office. When we get him back, we are going to be in pretty good shape.”
They don't wear the Mighty-Fighting-Duck midriff-baring jerseys anymore, and the era and the offense are vastly different, but as a fast, shifty receiver with great hands, Florida prospect Charles Nelson reminds me a little of McLemore.