by Zenobia Harris
“Set your goals high, and don’t stop til you get there,” these are the famous words of retired baseball and football player, Bo Jackson, and what seems to be the mode of operation for Oregon State cornerback, Steven Nelson.
After years of hard work and dedication to football, his dreams of becoming a pro athlete may come true sooner than later.
Steven Nelson was born and raised in Warner Robins, Georgia, an area that lives and breathes football. It was around the age of five that he first discovered his passion for football and developed a deep love for the game.
“I’ve always been very fast and athletic,” Nelson says.
He attended Northside High School where he ran track and played football. He finished up his high school years as a defensive player on the Northside High football team, a team that has won several state championships.
Surrounded by other great players and coaches, Nelson says playing for NHS really helped prepare him for college football.
Although he was a natural athlete and put a lot of work into the game while playing at NHS, Steven admits that he wasn’t always focused when it came to school work, so getting a football scholarship to play in college was no easy feat.
“A lot of schools didn’t want to offer me scholarships because my grades weren’t great,” Nelson said.
“Everybody was kind of surprised. I just didn’t have the grades.”
Although he didn’t get to play for any Division I schools right out of high school, it certainly served as a turning point for Nelson in both his academic and athletic career.
Nelson ended up playing for the College of the Sequoias in California his first two years of college. It was during this time that he drew in a lot of offers to play at other schools including an offer to play at the University of Georgia.
“Growing up, everybody wanted to play in the SEC,” Nelson said, “[I] got a scholarship [to play] for Georgia. Just thought it was best to stay away from home, and I really liked the West Coast and California.”
Steven began playing for the Oregon State University Beavers in 2013 where he went from being a nickel cornerback at the beginning of his first season to quickly earning a starter position and remaining there for the majority of the season.
At the end of his first season with the Beavers, Nelson had managed 62 tackles and six interceptions. As a senior, he was named to the PAC 12 All-Conference Second Team and was also named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. The trophy is given to the most exceptional defensive player in college football.
Nelson says that he has been motivated and inspired by people like his defensive coach, Rod Perry, who helped recruit Nelson a few years ago. Perry has quite a bit of experience coaching football, and Steven says that that has helped him gain more insight into the game.
Steven is currently working and training hard, outperforming every chance he gets, as draft day quickly approaches. During combine, Nelson finished the 40-yard dash at 4.49 seconds and was described by NFL draft analyst, Lance Zierlein, as “highly competitive, physical and aggressive for the position”.
All in all, Nelson is focused and preparing himself for the next big step. According to CBS Sports, he is projected second to third round draft pick.
“I feel blessed,” Nelson said. “It’s been a journey. It’s a good feeling to be able to play and take care of my family doing what I love.”
Heading into the draft, Steven says he has no preference for which team he will play for. Whatever team takes him, he’s grateful to go. His message to other young athletes who have a dream of pursuing a career in sports is that hard work is key.
“Everybody wants to play,” Nelson said. “It takes a lot of sacrifice and hard work. Every time you’re taking a day off, you’re losing to someone else. Take school seriously. Do the right things in school and outside of school. Stay focused.”