Today we continue our annual top ten preseason football players of 2016 list as voted on by the BSD staff. In creating this list, we considered players’ abilities, value to the team and past performance, among other factors. We continue our countdown with number six on our list, offensive tackle Andrew Nelson.
How He Got Here:
Nelson, a 6’6” 301 pound redshirt junior, was a consensus 3-star prospect and a top 30 prospect for the offensive line, recruited by Bill O’Brien’s staff. Nelson was a three-year letterman at Hershey High where he also lettered in just a few other sports (track and field, wrestling and volleyball – sorry, no basketball). With five of his family members attending Penn State, including his father and sister, it wasn’t a stretch for him to pick the Nittany Lions.
After taking a redshirt in 2013, Nelson had a standout 2014 season, starting all 13 games, mostly at right tackle. By the end of the season, he’d been named to a host of honors, including Freshman All-America second team by Scout and Athlon Sports, first team All-Freshman Big Ten Team by ESPN, 247 sports, and Academic All-Big Ten honors. Although he missed four games in 2015 due to a nagging knee injury, veteran Nelson continued his solid performance on the offensive line as one of the most consistent players --- and in the classroom, again earning Academic All-Big Ten honors.
What to Expect in 2016:
What we’d most like to see in 2016 is that Nelson stays healthy. We also expect that Nelson, Penn State’s most experienced tackle, move to right tackle, at least for now. In his August 4 press conference, Coach Franklin indicated they were beginning camp with Nelson at the right, moving him from the critical left tackle position, with coaches still deciding “who is going to be the best left tackle, who is going to be the best right tackle and then the guys behind them.”
That leaves the left tackle position up for grabs. However, with offensive line coach Matt Limegrover working Noah Beh and Brendan Mahon in on the left side in a few practices this week, it’s possible one of the two will secure that position.