The Full-Nelson: Freshman Wonder, Charles Nelson

Featured Picture

New freshmen Devon Allen and Royce Freeman have made quite a splash with their performances to create a ton of interest by Oregon fans. However another freshman has been quietly building a resume’ this year on special teams and emerged with the biggest buzz from his last game against Cal. Normally I am doing some type of analysis on Tuesdays, but Charles Nelson has demonstrated so much talent that is so rarely seen, that I wanted to step back and look at his amazing total package of play during one Pac-12 contest. This player truly IS “The Full Nelson.”

How does Charles Nelson get out of this?

From Video

How does Charles Nelson get out of this?

Everybody has watched his punt return many times on television and now on YouTube, hence I do not need to break it down beyond the question I pose from looking at the millisecond captured above. How did Charles get past all those Bears? He truly looks hemmed in and stuck going out of bounds, but we all know what happens from there. Two punt return TDs as a true freshman shout about his talent and the potential for the future!

Speed and desire gets there first!

From Video

Speed and desire gets there first!

So, let’s take a look at his performance on kickoff coverage. First off — look at his speed down field as he is nearly five yards ahead of his teammates. That puts decision-making stress on the wedge blockers, as they have to determine whether to double- or triple-team him, (and open lanes up for other Ducks) or to leave it for one blocker to attend to.

Getting through the block...

From Video

Getting through the block …

Cal decided to expend only one blocker towards Nelson (above) as he is blasting through the Bear via a sideways blow to prevent getting knocked off his feet. What is extraordinary about his effort is what the Grizzled Ol’ Coach was explaining to me; normally you have to slow down and do the choppy steps to move laterally to the tackle and evade the blocker. Nelson is able to go full-speed with his athleticism and accomplish the same thing?

No slowing down!

From Video

No slowing down!

Wow — Nelson made contact on the 12-yard line. On a subsequent punt coverage play he makes an amazing open-field tackle — and it is not the first time he has done this. Coach Mike Morris pointed out that there have been games that nearly EVERY tackle on punt and kickoff coverage has been made by this talented freshman. He has also been fearless in breaking up forming blockers and he does this with typical WR or DB size!

No penalty this time!

From Video

No penalty this time!

We all recall how Nelson was flagged for a penalty in the Michigan State game for violating the “halo” rule on punt returns. Most of us felt that he honored the rule and simply timed his hit to coincide so rapidly that the referee could not make the right call. In this recent Cal game we see (above) how the Cal punt returner is about to catch a punt from the Ducks, and note how Nelson has kept his “halo” distance.

A perfectly timed hit...

From Video

A perfectly timed hit …

Again we see (above) how Charles timed his hit just right and since there was a little bobble of the ball while catching it, it is jarring enough to the Cal player to have the ball pop out!

Incredible timing...

From Video

Incredible timing …

Hard to believe how well it popped out, and bounced right up for Tony Washington to catch and recover for the Ducks. Not many players can time a millisecond hit like Nelson, and certainly not as freshmen.

Charles is lined up as a Running Back?

From Video

Charles is lined up as a Running Back?

Whoa! Look at the screenshot above and we see how Charles Nelson is not playing at receiver, but as a running back to the right of Marcus Mariota!

This is a very confusing play to the opponent.

From Video

This is a very confusing play for the opponent.

Now … what the heck? We see Outside Zone Read blocking above going right, but the RB is going left? That does not make sense as the blocking is set for the RB to follow — usually. However, this is the “Sucker Sweep” where Oregon sucks the defense to the right while running a fast RB to the left, often without blocking! Nelson is off!

One great athlete helping another...

From Video

One great athlete helping another …

OK, I understand this is an article about the versatility of Charles Nelson, but damn … look at the blocking by Byron Marshall above — and he held it for four seconds! One remarkable athlete blocking for another to get a nice 14-yard gain.

A player of the week and he didn't catch a pass as a WR?

From Video

A Player of the Week and he didn’t catch a pass as a WR?

Nelson’s skills on the punt return include his vision, because few understand cut-back lanes as quickly as Charles has demonstrated. He reminds me of Terrence Whitehead (about 10 years ago) and Michael Fletcher (about 16 years ago) with his innate ability to know when to cut back.

Charles Nelson savors the moment after his touchdown.

From Video

Charles Nelson savors the moment after his touchdown.

Both of those players did not have big top-end speed, but had massive bursts of acceleration to zip by defenders. Nelson appears to have that and the top-end speed of an elite athlete. The Coach explained to me that someone with that toughness coupled with the acceleration and speed is a rare combo among college players.

Could John Neal be right about the correct position for Charles Nelson? You have to have the proper hip movement, and fast feet to be a great corner, but few have those attributes like Nelson. Coach pointed out that we have tons of great young talent at WR/RB, and have more coming in recruit Taj Griffin and Tony James coming out of redshirt next year. Yet we could certainly use more corners, and Charles’ skill set shouts that he could be the “next Ifo.” I think I’ll agree with the Ol’ Coach on this one, and it will certainly make Spring Football interesting to watch!

“Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer     (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo by John Giustina

Print Friendly

 Volunteer Position Openings:

--Media Management/Supervisor:  We are looking for someone beyond college age who can help manage students and mentor in a number of different departments. Expertise is not required as organizational skills and interest in guiding others.   --Assistant Football Analyst: Love college football and enjoy watching it for hours? We need associates to view games and find the techniques/teaching points we identify for them in advance.  You will be recognized in publications, and could have the opportunity to move to full Analyst.   --College Football Analyst: We are looking for Coaches, or retired coaches to help create analysis videos (we do the video part) that will be viewed by thousands, and will help young football players as well as fans understand the game much better. The national recognition will help your resume' as well as make an impact upon the game we all dearly love.   --Video Specialist: We are looking for help in the Eugene/Springfield area to assist with the shooting and editing of analysis videos.   All Positions: Send a resume' with full contact information and any writing samples you have to charles@fishduck.com  Again, these are volunteer positions donating five hours a week each.

Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks for thirty years and has written reports on football boards for over a dozen years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, a daughter, Christine, and their dog (Abbie) reside in Eugene, Oregon, where he has been a financial advisor for 30 years serving clients in seven different states. He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More...

  • Daniel

    Are you sure the photo on the right is correct (“Charles Nelson savors the moment after his touchdown”)? I’m pretty sure he wears number 6, not 8. Looking a lot like Reggie Daniels…