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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Freshman safety Nelson standing out in early season

The Badgers defense features seven new starters this year, three in the secondary alone. Of those new faces, Scott Nelson is the player to keep an eye on as the year progresses.

Players and coaches alike praised Nelson’s work this offseason in spring and fall camp, and the early benefits showed when he made his collegiate debut alongside senior D’Cota Dixon against Western Kentucky.

In his first career start, Nelson, a redshirt freshman, tied for the team lead with 7 tackles — including one for loss — along with two pass breakups. It’s critical that Nelson keeps progressing to help anchor a young defense moving forward.

This week, watch for Nelson to continue to be a factor against the pass, as well to get his knocks in around the line of scrimmage. Nelson could very well be the heir to the throne in Wisconsin’s secondary, and with his mix of physicality and athleticism, there is a real chance he could be an All-Big Ten level player very soon.

Nelson showed he is ready for the responsibility of starting on one of the nation’s top defenses, proving himself defending the pass and the run during the game.

The freshman also showed that he’s ready to be a leader off the field as well during the post-game press conference, when he took responsibility for a long pass play by Western Kentucky just after halftime.

Should Nelson have another strong showing against New Mexico, it would allow defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to increase D’Cota Dixon’s use against the run, which could prove extremely helpful once Big Ten play begins in a few weeks and the Badgers face more potent passing attacks.

What really makes Nelson stand out is his versatility and athleticism. He showed that he has speed to stay with opposing teams wideouts, but also showed that he is more physical than his 6’2, 194 frame suggests, and can make plays at the line of scrimmage, which also will prove critical once Big Ten play begins.

With sustained play, Nelson can be a key cog in the Badgers’ young defense going forward, and could prove to be a standout player in his first year.

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