Penn State is right in the thick of things to land Nelson, who called coach James Franklin’s program a “very serious contender.”
“They’re at the top, top of my board,” Nelson told Nittany Sports Now.
Penn state OV June 10th 🔵⚪️ Penn state fans show me some love !!
— Trickster 🃏 (@dakaari_nelson) June 5, 2022
Penn State is in Nelson’s top six, along with Auburn, Clemson, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oregon.
So what makes the Alabama native, who grew up rooting for the Tide, up until high school, interested in Penn State?
Like many recruits, Beaver Stadium’s atmosphere impressed Nelson, whose only previous Penn State visit occurred during the team’s Senior Day win over Rutgers last November.
Another big draw is Penn State’s safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator, Anthony Poindexter.
Poindexter- a College Football Hall of Famer because of his stellar playing career at the University of Virginia- helped former Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker to All-America honors in 2021 and a second-round draft selection by the Chicago Bears this past April.
At 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, Nelson has a similar build to Brisker (6-foot-1, 201 pounds) and has room to get bigger before his high school career is over.
Along with Poindexter’s coaching credentials, Nelson also appreciates the coach’s ability to be upfront.
“He’s going to be honest with you,” Nelson said, “tell you what you need to hear, not what you want. He’s passionate about the way he coaches.”
Along with Nelson’s physical build, he has advanced football knowledge for his age. He’s been calling Selma’s defensive plays since his freshman year.
The combination of Nelson’s size, stats (eight interceptions, two for touchdowns as a junior) and football IQ makes him an attractive recruit, and all six schools on Nelson’s list are still in play.
Auburn is the school closest to home. Tennesse was one of the first schools to offer him, and Nelson lauded Clemson for how well the coaching staff has treated him and his family. Kentucky and Oregon– a school Nelson said has communicated “off-and-on” with him,– are also contenders.
Nelson’s brother, Dion Nelson Jr., plays Division I football at Tennessee-Martin, and if all goes according to plan, DaKaari will follow in 2023. Penn State will be Nelson’s first official visit– he doesn’t have any others planned yet– and he’s excited.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know and seeing how the players interact,” he said. “Last time I just came to Beaver Stadium, I didn’t really get to talk to the players a lot. So I’m definitley looking forward to that and building a strong relationship with the coaching staff.”