TAMPA – Jesuit’s Anthony Nelson built off his strong sophomore year with a tremendous junior season a year ago.
The 6’1″, 235-pounder racked up 81 tackles (62 solo) and 16 sacks as a defensive end last season. He had eight sacks as a sophomore the year prior. Upon his coach’s recommendation, Nelson will be making the move to outside linebacker as a senior.
The Tigers flourished a year ago making it to their second straight state semifinal. Nelson helped lead a defense that served as a huge a strength for a 12-1 group that lost 21-14 to eventual Class 5A state champion American Heritage.
“The run was great, but we didn’t have the ending we wanted,” Nelson told Prep Sports Scouting. “That was my second time playing in the state semifinals, but my first time starting. I contributed to the team a lot.”
This season we have to come back, we’ve been working harder this offseason. We are trying to get back there, but this time seal the deal.”
Defensively, Nelson says his group will continue to be a strength. With a large group of 2018 players alongside him, he says he feels that the team will be fine if not better on that side of the ball.
On offense, the offensive line, wide receivers and tight ends are intact. Nelson says the quarterback competition will continue between Brendenn Flynn and Nash Chilura.
As for running back, Matthew Pittman is someone Nelson thinks should flourish. He called himself someone who is really hard to tackle.
Starting his football career at age 5, Nelson was a running back and quarterback at first. As he grew, he moved to offensive line and defensive line. He took his defensive end mentality into high school.
As to where he found his confidence, Nelson says that came after his sophomore season.
“I didn’t start, but when I came in I felt like I made an impact,” he said. “I led the defensive line group in sacks. After that season, I worked really hard in the offseason and after the first couple of games, it showed. I started building confidence after that.”
Currently, Nelson holds 25 Division I offers (full offer list via 247 Sports). He is being recruited as both a defensive end and an outside linebacker.
Nelson pointed to Washington State, USF, Harvard, Princeton and Colorado State as schools that standout from the list.
Washington State pops out simply because 2017 Jesuit athlete Travell Harris committed there a few months ago. Nelson says he has talked to Harris about the school. Harris told him that it is a laid back environment, with nice facilities and a good education.
Jesuit is one of the top spots in Hillsborough County during football season and Nelson loves to play on his home field.
“It is fun every Friday coming out with your boys. Especially to have your friends in the crowd and family coming to see you, it is great,” he said. “It is loud and it is a rush everytime I go out there.”
In terms of his biggest strengths, Nelson called that his speed rush, get off the ball and play recognition. He’s aiming to improve his body strength and open field work as a linebacker.
Nelson loves to play for head coach Matt Thompson. Hired in Dec. 2012, Thompson has guided the Tigers to four straight district titles and a 41-11 overall record.
“It is fun. Sophomore year, he [Thompson] was pretty intimidating,” Nelson said. “He doesn’t say much, but once you get to know him, he’s a pretty good guy. I have had a good time and I know the kids behind me will too. He likes to win and who doesn’t like to win?”
The end goal for Nelson is to play in the NFL. If he doesn’t make it there, he wants to have a great career where he can set up his family and kids. He is mulling a degree in either law, medicine or business right now.
Nelson is tremendously smart in the classroom and he’s been able to use his brain and lengthy football experience to better himself. He made his presence felt in a rotational role as a sophomore and thrived as a core starter last season. Look for Nelson to have an even bigger senior campaign for the talented Tigers.
Favorite players to watch – James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, Kam Chancellor, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown
Playlist before games – Lil Yachty, Playboy Carti, Kodak Black
Favorite movies – Friday
Favorite TV shows – Fear The Walking Dead
Fun fact that you think nobody knows – “Recently, I have gotten into Dragon Ball Z and Naruto. Those are really good shows.”
Nicknames from teammates or friends – “Hound Dog”, “Nelson”
Game film: Nelson’s Hudl tape
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.