Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with 4-star TE Carter Nelson. He ranks as the nation’s No. 8 TE and the No. 119 overall prospect for 2024 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. The On3 Industry Ranking has him as the nation’s No. 5 TE and the No. 79 overall recruit.
Let’s take a minute to share how everyone back home in Nebraska sees All-American TE Carter Nelson. We’ll do that before we get into how much the ‘Dawgs want to sign the Ainsworth High Bulldog.
Picture Nelson walking the halls of a tiny school. His school houses kindergarten through 12th grade.
Nelson’s grade is one of the bigger ones. There are 35 rising seniors in the Class of 2024. Imagine him walking those halls high-fiving first and second graders. He will even read to them at times.
He will also be seen around town playing golf or fishing. He did that nine straight days after school let out. Nelson is a lifeguard for his summer job. He entertains the little folks again with his backflips.
The 6-foot-4-plus athlete can do those standing straight up.
When his football coach Jessi Owen missed a game last fall for the birth of his first child, that was a headline. The Bulldogs were in the middle of an unbeaten season. It was their first winning season in about 20 years. The boys had managed one combined win during Nelson’s freshman and sophomore years.
The game was streaming online. When Nelson scored, he found a way to make it memorable. Even though he created 39 other touchdowns in 10 games last season.
He caught 11 touchdowns. He ran for 14 scores and threw another 15 touchdown passes.
This time was different.
With this one, the one-man highlight reel found a camera and pointed to it. He was pointing to his coach at the hospital. Nelson made a gesture of rocking the baby for his head coach and his newborn baby girl Elsie.
“They FaceTimed me immediately after the win,” Owen said. “It was awesome.”
He wasn’t always so charming on the field. There was that time last year when he saw his quarterback get hit late. It came out of bounds after the play in a game Ainsworth had well in hand.
Nelson did not like that.
He asked Owen to give him the ball. He wasn’t planning to score the two-point conversion as much as hit everyone on the other team as hard as he could.
Nelson proceeded to play demolition derby. Between the whistles. He didn’t score, but it took eight defenders to bring him to the ground.
“I think he ended up coming just short of the goal line but it took pretty much the whole team to take him down,” his father Jake Nelson said.
The All-American TE was at the bottom of the pile. Then he yelled out: “It takes eight.”
Owen said his Bulldogs needed to put that line on a T-shirt.
Nelson sets high goals. Goals that his father never thought he would reach. He told his Dad he’d go out and win the state in the high jump as a freshman.
“Not going to happen,” his father Jake Nelson said.
Carter did just that. Then he won the state title again as a sophomore.
He told his Dad when he was young that he would play Division I-A sports. That was unlikely coming out of Ainsworth.
His father gave him a reset at the beginning of his sophomore year. There was just no way. The team he was on didn’t win any games. Their town was small. The level he played at didn’t offer any exposure.
He’d have to walk on somewhere. He’d have to make it to college first with his academics.
“He proved me wrong again,” his father said. “He’s the type when he sets his mind to something, he’s going to do it.”
That’s how the folks in Ainsworth know Nelson.
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What DawgNation has to know here about Carter Nelson
DawgNation has begun to hear about him a lot over the last two months. The interest spiked last weekend when he came in for his first official visit.
“I can tell you that Carter is very interested in Georgia,” Owen said. “He is building a good relationship with the staff.”
This makes for a fascinating story. Georgia will never bring in another player quite like Brock Bowers. But they can bring in a player that can do the things that Bowers has done for Georgia.
Nelson, like Bowers, is an uncommon All-American given his height and body frame. Throwing that parallel around is like trying to bodyslam Jordan Davis in an airplane jetway, but I’ll own it.
Those 40 combined touchdowns in 8-man football via his arm, legs and hands is something we’ve never written about with a prospect before. UGA has not signed an 8-man football player in the Kirby Smart era. I can’t even remember them even seriously recruiting one.
Those weren’t gadget plays either. Nelson was a bread-and-butter option as a passer, runner and at receiver. He was a decoy on some downs. Where he lined up basically dictated the call from the defense.
There was a play that Hartley had them watching on his film on his official last weekend. It was a 3rd-and-25. Ainsworth called “Base Left 9″ for Nelson.
That’s basically the quarterback takes a step and chucks it high downfield to Nelson. Somewhere. It doesn’t matter the coverage. He gets double and triple-teamed in 8-man football.
Nelson came down with it for a first down in double coverage.
He tallied up 663 yards passing, 761 rushing yards and another 524 receiving yards in 2022. He also had 41 tackles and six interceptions on defense.
Bear in mind he did that on an 80-yard field, too.
When we think about his entire athletic profile, that junior year stat line might be the fifth or sixth most impressive thing about Nelson.
That would be just behind the 100 meters he ran with his 6-foot-4-plus frame in 11.05 seconds. Nelson averaged a double-double on the basketball court. He led his team in assists and led his state classification in blocked shots. But that doesn’t even make the back of the football card here.
Not with the 7-foot-mark he cleared on the high jump as a sophomore. That tied a 30-year-old state record. He jumped six feet, 10 inches to tie the state meet record. That won the all-classification state title that year. He also high jumped six feet, eight inches to win the all-classification gold medal as a freshman.
There was also the 14-plus feet he cleared on the pole vault this spring. Or the 52-plus feet he threw the shot.
Nelson has barely any body fat. At all. He had to keep his weight down to fly like that in the pole vault.
When he’s 235 pounds in college with a big-time weight program, he’s going to be off the charts with muscle mass and retain his explosiveness.
“He’ll be scary,” his father said.
Nelson sounds like a budding Olympic decathlete, but he doesn’t like track and field. He does it because he knows it makes him a better athlete.
And maybe also for the fact his dad is the track coach.
His grandfather was a state high jump champion, too. So it runs in the family. His first Division I-A recruiting attention came in track and field.
There’s a question here that needs to be answered: We’re talking 8-man football in Nebraska. Can he play SEC football?
Yes. He can really really play.
Georgia and its prolific tight ends coach Todd Hartley already know that. Hartley went out to see Nelson two times this spring. That was the max allowed by the NCAA rulebook.
Nelson is such a big target for the ‘Dawgs that the family got a phone call from Kirby Smart the day before Missouri TE Jaden Reddell committed to Georgia. Reddell is the nation’s No. 1 TE for 2024 for On3.com.
The ‘Dawgs want to corner the tight end market here. Again.
We’ll settle the matter of that previous question with a visual aid here. Nelson can really play. That jaw-dropping athleticism does translate fully to his junior highlight tape.
The strides he made from his sophomore year film are uncanny.
Carter Nelson: How he became interested in the ‘Dawgs
Many have written up how hard it will be for Georgia to win this recruiting battle. They’ve noted how tough it will be to pull a young man that grew up dreaming of playing for Nebraska from his home state.
That might not be the case.
Will it be any harder than earning the commitment of the son of Nebraska All-American Dominic Raiola? Or the nephew of the current offensive line coach in Nebraska?
The official visit that Nelson and his family just took to UGA greatly increased the odds of Ainsworth’s Bulldog becoming a Georgia Bulldog.
If we addressed that matter six months ago, that answer would have been no way.
That was until Jake Nelson turned the TV on to watch the national championship against TCU. He thought back then that the way the SEC used its tight ends was similar to how his son tried to play demolition derby on that two-point payback.
“I remember the old SEC and the big blocking tight ends,” his father said. “I wasn’t really interested in sending any information to Georgia. But then when I watched the national championship game, it was the first time I’d watched them. I watched the way they used Brock Bowers and I was like ‘Holy cow. That’s exactly the way we use Carter’ and just the way they used him really kind of excited me.”
“Then seeing all of that on tape even more during this visit was really eye-opening.”
When he first saw that game, he made a point to look up Bowers. He wanted to see what his body type and athleticism looked like in high school. To see how Carter compared to him at the same stage of their careers.
“I saw his actual metrics and I was like ‘Oh my gosh. Identical to Carter with everything’ so Carter is capable if he puts in the work, of having the success that Brock has had.”
Then he saw them next to each other in this picture here.
“Then when I saw them next to each other I was like ‘Ooh, Carter is actually a little bit taller than Brock is right now’ and that was even better,” his father said.
Georgia had a reasoned stance with all of that. They said they didn’t want Nelson to be Bowers. They told his family that there is never going to be another Bowers.
Bowers is his own man. He is the man.
“But they said we want to use you like Brock,” his father said. “We want you to be in these same positions and we hope that you put in the work because you’ve got all the tools. You could end up being that same caliber of player. I think that is kind of what Carter’s goal is. To be a player like Brock.”
Hartley has told Nelson he can be a matchup nightmare. He can flex out. He can put his hand in the dirt. That’s while still running a 4.5 in the 40. He has a lot to offer. There is even a highlight from his sophomore year where he threw a toss pass some 55 yards in the air.
The ‘Dawgs did address the fact they already have two superlative TE commits in the class with 3-star Colton Heinrich and 4-star Jaden Reddell.
“They said you’ll have to compete,” Jake Nelson said. “They said ‘We want to have the best tight end room in the nation and the only way is to bring in as many of the elite tight ends as you can’ and then they showed us the percentage of multiple tight ends that they had last year.”
“When you see tight ends on the field, you have got to have those guys to be able to do that.”
The Georgia philosophy doesn’t revolve around one guy getting all the reps.
“If you’ve got three or four or five studs and you can rotate it around, then that makes everything that much more open for the offense to be able to do,” his father said.
The ‘Dawgs reportedly used two tight ends on 62 percent of their snaps last season.
“They showed us those stats,” Jake Nelson said. “That’s pretty impressive. That’s what makes it happen.”
Where do things stand after the Carter Nelson official visit?
Notre Dame will host the Nelson on an official this weekend. Nebraska and Penn State will come later this month. That might be it. The home state Cornhuskers do get the last official visit this month.
The Nelson family has found that every program has very good aspects. What they are looking for is a place that has a real family feel to it. Somewhere that Carter will be happy.
“Then be able to really feel comfortable with the other players that he is with,” his father said. “The coaches that he is working with. Just a program that kind of has always been known to be just one of the good guys in the industry.”
His father said the official visit to Georgia was “awesome.”
“I thought they really did a good job of explaining what they are going to do to get the players involved in the community and becoming better men,” he said. “There was the education and how much they strive for good academics.
Nelson was with 15 other official visitors, but it did not feel like it.
“The people were super friendly,” Jake Nelson said. “Every single coach knew exactly who we were when we walked up. We weren’t just another face. They really made you feel special.”
The success stood out. Competitors want to win. The Nelsons want that for Carter. He wants that.
The Southeastern Conference also matters here.
“Carter very early in the process said if all these guys are telling me that I can go to the NFL, then what better place to develop than in the SEC?” his father said. “Look at the history of sending tight ends to the NFL from Georgia and also from Coach Hartley.”
“We really felt like the coaches cared about Carter and have the idea of using him the way I think he needs to be used. He’s not going to be an attached (to-the-line) tight end. Sometimes he can get in there and be one that’s going to be all over the place.”
Nelson wants to commit before his senior year. That’s the goal so he can concentrate on his team. If the right place hasn’t set itself apart by then, then he will extend that timeline.
He could know by July 1. Or it could go into the season a little bit. Don’t look for him to enroll early. He wants to finish out his high school basketball and track careers at Ainsworth.
Carter Nelson: Two final stories to leave you with
Remember those high-fives in the hallway? When Carter was that age, he came with his Dad to track practice. He was bored. So he tried to do all the things the high school kids were doing.
That early immersion led to his track and field prowess. But he’s always wanted to run. When he was younger, the Nelson family lived on top of a really tall hill in the middle of town.
The angle of that hill wasn’t ever calculated. But when it snowed, there were times that his dad’s four-wheel drive couldn’t even make it up that hill.
“He would always want us to drop him off at the bottom of the hill and race the vehicle up,” his father said. “He was always doing little things like that. It eventually all paid off.”
The hill was pretty steep. It was about four blocks long.
The final Nelson story here calls for another visual aid. Check out this picture from his Georgia official.
Nelson is holding a No. 15 jersey. His parents didn’t know anything about it.
“I walked in and saw him holding that,” his father said. “I was like ‘Yep. Not surprised that he did that at all’ when I saw it.”
The No. 15 was a tribute to his friend Hunter Palmer. Palmer ran track with him. He was running his second 200 meters of the day at track practice. Prime of health. Then he just dropped.
Palmer was gone. Just like that. Far too soon.
“Very healthy,” Jake Nelson said. “Great athlete. He just dropped.”
Palmer was set to go play college football at an NAIA school this fall. Nelson was moved by that.
He still is.
“He didn’t know Hunter for long, but he knew him really well and hung out with him quite a few times,” Jake Nelson said. “I knew that he wanted to show his respect for somebody that he admired. He really admired the kid that Hunter was.”
“He wants the memory of him to live on.”
The soon-to-be 18-year-old saw the big picture.
“He had approached me about possibly changing to No. 15 in honor of his fallen friend,” Jessi Owen said.
We’ve never written about an athlete with all these track exploits. Or being dominant in 8-man football either.
Yet we’ve also never written about a young man with the motivation in his heart to do something like that on an official visit photo shoot.
Nelson’s dream is to play in the NFL. When his time is up, he wants to come back to the college level and be a coach.
Another Bowers? He can be his own thing.
That’s perhaps the biggest reason why Nelson could create his own path in Athens. The potential of being the first Carter Nelson to play in Athens seems pretty unique in its own right.
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