Football: Xavier's Nelson Chooses Iowa

By Jeff Linder (Story) and Scott Saville (Video), Reporters


By Grant Burkhardt

For more, including full video interviews with Nelson, go to

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - That’s why he chose the University of Iowa.

Nelson orally committed to the Hawkeyes on Thursday; he is projected as a defensive end.

“Everything felt right at Iowa,” said Nelson, a senior-to-be at Cedar Rapids Xavier. “They showed me all the opportunities I’ll have (as a student) at Iowa, and beyond Iowa.

Nelson met the media late Thursday morning, a few minutes after tweeting:

“Proud to be a Hawkeye! #gohawks.”

Notre Dame was Nelson’s second choice; Stanford was No. 3. He contacted the coaches of those schools earlier in the week, then spoke to three Iowa assistants Thursday.

Nelson said that the Hawkeyes coaches told him that defensive end “was their first need, and I want to get on the field as soon as possible.”

At 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, Nelson has gained “20 to 30 pounds since last season. I’d like to get to 260 if my movement stays the same.”

As a junior, he led the Saints to a 13-1 record and the Class 4A state final last year as a junior. He caught 14 passes for 162 yards and eight touchdowns while recording 47 tackles (19 for loss) and 11 sacks.

“Matt is so coachable,” Xavier coach Duane Schulte said. “He does what we ask him to do. He blends the physical and mental side to it.”

Despite Xavier’s vast football success in recent years (it won the 2006 state title), Nelson is the school’s first high-profile recruit.

“It was fun to have all the college coaches, from all of the country, call about Matt,” Schulte said. “Hopefully this sheds some light that we’re doing something right here.”

Matt’s parents, Jay and Julie, both are Iowa State alums, and his older brother Josh is an ISU student.

“This is Matt’s day, and it’s Matt’s choice,” Jay said. “He’ll have to put in the work. It will be nice to run down the road to Iowa City and see him play. Wherever his heart is, that’s where I want him.”

Nelson was a mid-major basketball recruit. He had offers from Rice and Northern Colorado, among others.

“It’s easier to be more physical in football than basketball,” he said. “I foul out a lot.

“That was my first tough decision, football over basketball.”

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