Last year we saw some truly incredible play from the true freshman Charles Nelson on offense and watched him light up the field on special teams. The multi-faceted freshman was inserted into the rushing game- only rushing 11 times but averaging 9.2 yards a carry-. We saw Nelson and Marcus Mariota connect 23 times for 327 yards and five touchdowns. Probably the most exciting was to see Nelson streak up and down the field on special teams, returning 11 punts and 22 kickoffs for a total of 589 yards. If it is possible, more exciting than Nelson’s work with the ball in his hands was his knack for stopping his opponents on special teams. Just take a look at some of his work here.
Last season the rumor mill was turning that Nelson might be moved to the defensive side of the ball. Tyson Alger of The Oregonian reported way back in September that Oregon’s secondary coach John Neal wanted Nelson to switch sides. A safety in high school, Nelson has some experience on the other side of the field and with a strong offensive recruiting class moving in the Ducks may want to utilize Nelson on defense.
No one is doubting that Nelson can hold his own against a stacked incoming freshman class; however, Oregon didn’t make moves to attain the likes of Malik Lovette, Kirk Merritt and Alex Ofodile to watch them sit on the sidelines. Lovette was a 4 star recruit that ranked 4th in the country for all-purpose backs. Merritt brings similar credentials, a 4 star recruit ranked as the 4th best app-purpose prospect in the country. Ofodile is more of a pure receiver who ranks in the top 10 in the country at the position. With plenty of all-purpose talent shoring up depth on the offensive side of the ball it may be time to test Nelson somewhere else.
Rumors have arisen once again on the forums on Ducksattack.com, the speculation being met with enthusiasm from fans. Nelson is a big time talent that is capable of playing on either side of the football and he will have an impact wherever he plays. In a system with a reputation for a brutalizing offense it might be time to move some of that explosive play-making ability to the other side of the ball.
With the departure of Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Erick Dargan, Troy Hill, Dior Mathis and the impending transfer of Isaac Dixon the Ducks have spots to fill at defensive back and Nelson has a chance to shine. If nothing else he would be sure to throw down a challenge in a position battle, making everyone better for it. Regardless of where he sees time next season, we can be sure that he will dazzle us all.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline