Will Penn State OL Andrew Nelson be a factor in 2017? James Franklin says he’s ‘got a bright future’
Injured Penn State offensive tackle Andrew Nelson arrives for practice at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles, Ca. on Dec. 28, 2016. The Nittany Lions will take on USC in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2. Joe Hermitt | email@example.com
Penn State veteran offensive lineman Andrew Nelson saw his 2016 season come to an end in early October when he suffered a significant knee injury during the Lions’ win over Maryland.
A fourth-year junior at the time, there was some question as to whether the Hershey High School graduate would return.
The 6-6, 305-pounder is back — though he didn’t do much during spring drills — and PSU coach James Franklin indicated this week that Nelson is still part of the Lions’ offensive line plan.
“(Nelson) probably doesn’t want to hear this but I think there’s good and bad that comes with the things that he’s gone through,” Franklin said Tuesday night during a Penn State Coaches Caravan stop in the Harrisburg area.
“And obviously, you don’t want any player to have to have the setbacks that he’s had. But I will tell you, as we all know, you grow by going through adversity. And Andrew is a very smart, very humble, very hard-working kid who’s handled a lot of adversity at an early age, and handled it well.”
“When the team’s all out there practicing and you’re in the treatment room there by yourself, it forces you to kind of get to know yourself really well,” Franklin continued.
“I think Andrew’s got a bright future still at Penn State and afterwards, when it comes to football. … He’s really the type of guy that we want to build our program around.”
Nelson has been a starter at tackle on the Lions’ O-line since the start of the 2014 season but he has missed significant time due to injuries. He made 13 starts that year but just 14 since.
Penn State offensive tackle Andrew Nelson is carted off the field after suffering an injury during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium on Oct. 8, 2016. Penn State beat Maryland, 38-14. Joe Hermitt | firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Flounders | email@example.com
PSU must replace center Brian Gaia but the Lions have depth at the other four spots. Nelson and another veteran, Brendan Mahon, are back, as are several other players with 2016 starting experience — Ryan Bates, Steven Gonzalez, Connor McGovern and Chasz Wright.
Where does Nelson fit? He figures to be much more active on the practice field in August.
“Andrew Nelson is doing great,” Franklin said.
“He’s a really unique guy. He’s very mature, which I think we probably lack a lot of that now in college football. There’s just less fifth-year seniors. He’s played a lot of football for us.”
Penn State coach James Franklin on what makes offensive lineman Andrew Nelson unique