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OT Nelson blows up quick, building relationship with Justice

OT Nelson blows up quick, building relationship with Justice

Stefan Adams
In late January, 2022 Boone (FL) 3-star OT Leyton Nelson was an unknown prospect on the recruiting scene with zero offers to his name. However, his fortunes have changed quickly since his junior film has made the rounds, as Nelson has been one of the fastest rising recruits in the country after earning offers from 19 FBS programs over the past month alone.

“Well, for me, my sophomore year, I was 240 at like 6’5”, real skinny and I didn’t have any film,” Nelson said. “I finally put on 40 pounds over that next summer going into my junior fall. I put out my film at the end of the season and I tried to get it out there as much as I could, and then it blew up. I think that was probably a huge factor - putting on weight, muscle mass, working hard, getting my footwork and speed up. Then putting out that film, showing it off, kind of just helped me blow up.”

Nelson now has bids from Power 5 programs such as Oregon, Penn State, FSU, and Tennessee, while earlier this month, the in-state Miami Hurricanes got in on the offer flurry as well when OL coach Garin Justice extended a bid to the Boone star.

“It was kind of crazy because I moved to Florida when I was four and I always saw these big schools – Miami, FSU, UF,” Nelson said. “To finally get an offer from Miami as the first one of those, it was just a big dream to get a school like that.”

Nelson and Justice have now talked multiple times, and a big selling point for Justice has been the improvement of Canes OL Zion Nelson over the past year.

“We talked about drills they do there and what would be helpful for me, what I need to go over and get better at,” Nelson said. “[Justice] was just showing me the progression of Zion from his freshman to sophomore year and was comparing it to what he could do with me. I’ve just been growing so much constantly, even this year I’m still growing. So with that, coach Justice was telling me he could help me out so much at Miami and that they’re putting players in the NFL, that Zion is going to be a first round draft pick. He was saying he can put me out there and get me to be a much better player if I came there.”

What is it about the Hurricanes that has the 6'6" 280 pound prospect interested in possibly attending UM?

“Well, it is a private school. It has a great football program, the coaches there are all well-connected,” Nelson said. “And also the education they offer there is really great and has all my majors I’m interested in. It’s like the top program for the majors I’m interested in, which is architecture and interior design.”

In terms of the rest of his recruitment, Nelson is attempting to learn more about all the new options he’s gained in such a short amount of time, but admits the NCAA-mandated dead period has made things more difficult for him. As his recruitment has just started blowing up, Nelson has yet to make any visits to campuses, and the NCAA just recently made things tougher by pushing back the dead period another month through May.

“I’ve been talking to Pitt, Tennessee, South Carolina, Penn State, Rutgers, Miami, FSU, and Oregon,” Nelson said. “All of them talk about how they want to get me up there ASAP after the May 31st dead period, hopefully it doesn’t extend further. They say I’ll be able to go to their spring games, go visit and watch. I’d also be able to go up there for an unofficial visit - you can’t talk to coaches, but you can get a player to come walk around with you to help see it in person and get a better understanding of it.”

In addition to Miami, another in-state option Nelson is seriously considering is FSU, and he talked about why he is interested in the Seminoles’ program.

“I have a lot of fellow Boone people there, because most people just end up there for the academics. I also have my teammate Shambre Jackson there,” Nelson said. “In terms of the relationship [with FSU], It would help me feel a little bit better seeing how much they want me or not.”

As the offers continue to pour in for Nelson, he is content on playing the waiting game with the process to get a better picture of his recruitment before making any decisions.

“I haven’t really thought about making a top list,” Nelson said. “I was trying to be a little patient and see what other offers I can get, try and get that number up, and then make a top list. I’ll probably [commit] sometime after my spring season, but most definitely before the fall. I just want to focus on getting better, keeping my weight where I’m at and getting stronger. I don’t want to get my eyes off of that. And plus I don’t want to cut [my recruitment] too short if there are any other schools out there that would be interested.”

It’s clear that once Nelson gets to see some campuses and build better relationships with the coaching staffs, he’ll feel more comfortable narrowing his list down and making a decision from there, which will likely come this summer if all goes according to plan.

“It’s definitely going to be about the school’s relationship with my mom and I,” Nelson said of his decision. “Also, what do they offer, do they have the education that I want? Do they have a good football program? Is the whole campus good for me, what is the surrounding area like? Is it a dead zone or is it a full-on city?”

 

Comments (38)

From Zion to Leyton, more Nelson's the better lol. But for real, this kid moves really well for a kid 6'7''. He looks pretty lean too at 270. Could easily add 20 pounds and keep his athleticism with his frame.
 
Justice is saying Zion will be a first rounder. I'm looking forward to seeing him play against Bama.
Told someone else in another post that Zion Nelson has been graded out as first rounder for next year and he didn't believe me. If Zion doesn't regress for the 2021 season he's going first round. Kid way too athletic and quick at 6'5 315.
 

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Wow. This kid has a motor and aggressive demeanor to him. I like that continuation on his blocks as well. Would be a perfect fit here at the U. That, and we’re the top school for the majors he’s thinking of pursuing
 
Told someone else in another post that Zion Nelson has been graded out as first rounder for next year and he didn't believe me. If Zion doesn't regress for the 2021 season he's going first round. Kid way too athletic and quick at 6'5 315.
Did this guy watch the same Zion we saw freshmen year? A lot of upside? Dude was on the worst tackles in division 1.
Obviously he made huge strides last season.
 
Told someone else in another post that Zion Nelson has been graded out as first rounder for next year and he didn't believe me. If Zion doesn't regress for the 2021 season he's going first round. Kid way too athletic and quick at 6'5 315.
If he has a good 2021 and goes first round, he'll be a success story we talk about here for a long time. Think of all the grief he got from some around here in 2019.
 
I get it’s a recruiting tactic to say Zion is going to be a first round pick, but still shocks me that he said that.
 
But it’s a legit possibility tho

He's clearly a late bloomer, and keeps getting better. The strides he made between his freshman and sophomore year were astonishing. But he'd need to repeat that same leap in improvement to be in a day 2/day 3 conversation, much less first round.

Time to put on the big boy pants and beat up the Bama DEs, then repeat it all season long. Then, yeah, I'm in. Will be fun to watch if he does, because that kid was in way over his head as a freshman. Zion going first round would be epic. And Justice getting him there would solidify him as one of the great OL coaches.
 
He's clearly a late bloomer, and keeps getting better. The strides he made between his freshman and sophomore year were astonishing. But he'd need to repeat that same leap in improvement to be in a day 2/day 3 conversation, much less first round.

Time to put on the big boy pants and beat up the Bama DEs, then repeat it all season long. Then, yeah, I'm in. Will be fun to watch if he does, because that kid was in way over his head as a freshman. Zion going first round would be epic. And Justice getting him there would solidify him as one of the great OL coaches.
Not sure about a late bloomer. Is he even 20 yet?
 
Told someone else in another post that Zion Nelson has been graded out as first rounder for next year and he didn't believe me. If Zion doesn't regress for the 2021 season he's going first round. Kid way too athletic and quick at 6'5 315.
That would be a rags to riches story like no other considering how lightly recruited he was to being thrown in the fire way too early.

If he does go in the first round, Justice should recruit off that for at least five years and should be in the mix for any high ranking ol.

What a great story and I hope he has a great season. If he puts good tape for the bama game he would be in the driver’s seat.
 
I thought he meant that all those Boone guys go their because it’s a public Ivy.
naw those Boone Braves go up to TrailerNasty chasing that lady Semin(h)ole, which apparently is very easy an plentiful up there.

Go Canes
 
If Zion plays like a 1st round left tackle against Bama...I’m sold.
More than that, his confidence will skyrocket. If you can beat the biggest bully in the cell block, you got no worries the rest of your sentence.

Zion would be a monster the rest of the season. That Bama game is huge for his confidence.
 
Nelson is shopping for a package offer for him and his brother. In the age of the transfer portal, as a high 3* or low 4* prep olinemen that will need a redshirt year in a college S&C program, he may be over playing his hand early which will cause colleges to move on to other players; especially with little to no in person evaluation period.

Nelson also has a brother, Logan, who is a fellow member of the 2022 class. Logan Nelson has flexed between tight end and offensive tackle during his high school. In 2020, he switched out with another player depending on the matchup. Logan is currently about 6-foot-5, 220-pounds.
“If we get an offer to a pretty big college that I’m ok with going to with him, that would definitely play a huge factor in me choosing a school because we grew up together,” Nelson said. “If not, I can always separate myself from him.”



Go Canes
 
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Why is Zion still bashed for his Freshman year? Is it his fault he was the best LT and was forced to play as an undersized true Freshman. It is going to be great to enjoy the second half of the story as he matures and has all that game experience. If we had depth when he came in this might be the first year he starts.
 

2022 Commits

CB
6'0"
160
Lexington, MS
QB
6'4"
205
Valdosta, GA
CB
6'1"
175
Fort Myers, FL
WR
6'1"
185
Mandeville, LA
MLB
6'1"
210
Manvel, TX
OT
6'7"
275
Sandersville, GA

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