Ashley Young of FishDuck.com caught up with Charles Nelson yesterday at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex following football spring practice.
Nelson’s transition to the defense lit a spark of conversation about the capabilities of the overall Ducks’ defense forecasted for 2015. An incredible athlete that made his presence felt downfield on offense and special teams last year, Nelson is now learning how to break up those spectacular plays instead of making them.
Changing positions is difficult for any player; Nelson has had to not only learn a new vocabulary for the other side of the ball but new plays and how to use his body differently. So, what has been the biggest challenge for Nelson? “[The] mental [challenge] definitely,” he said. ”It’s a lot different.”
The change in mentality is not limited to simply learning new schemes and plays. The attitude of the defense as a whole is more aggressive and attack-centered. According to Nelson, “Moving to the defense, I can see why last year they did the things they did,” he told us.
The move to the opposite side of the ball has opened Nelson’s eyes to the capabilities of the offense, as well. Speaking to the reasoning behind the defense’s performance, he explained that “[it’s] because they have to stop what we [the offense] do.” Practicing against one of the most high-powered offenses in the nation is an excellent way to train under fire in order to be prepared for the regular season.
After playing in his first scrimmage as a defensive back, Nelson described it as a “great starting point, overall a great experience.” While acknowledging he has room to improve and learn, he is taking advantage of the opportunity of getting to play. He told us he is “more comfortable than I was at the start.”
Few true sophomores can be described as leaders, but according to Head Coach Mark Helfrich, Nelson has stepped up and taken on that role. The secondary holds most of the questions for the Ducks this year, but they are preparing themselves well. ”There’s a lot of work to be done,” Nelson admitted, “and that’s what coach Neal has done; he’s trying to get us all on the same page.”
With a combination of Nelson, Reggie Daniels and Chris Seisay all on the same page, the Ducks’ secondary will be a force to be reckoned with.
Beyond solid play from the veterans, the Ducks have depth with options such as freshman Ugo Amadi, sophomore Arrion Springs and redshirt freshman Glen Ihenacho. All should see major playing time this year.
The move to defense was a game-changer for Nelson, however, and the Ducks’ – and his — goal is to get comfortable with his new position this spring. We saw what he was capable of when he was settled in on offense; once he is set in the new scheme, no offense facing Oregon should be anything close to comfortable.
Top Photo by John Giustina