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Penn State Football

Penn State All 105: Breakout Season In Line for DaKaari Nelson?

Photo courtesy of DaKaari Nelson’s Twitter page

Safety DaKaari Nelson officially has one year under his belt at Penn State. He redshirted the 2023 season and appeared in one game. Nelson earned Developmental Squad Defensive Player of the Week honors leading up to the Ohio State game (10/21) and PSU’s Developmental Squad Special Teams Player of the Week the week before against UMass (10/14).

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 223 pounds

Hometown: Livingston, Alabama

Before Penn State: Nelson was a four-year captain at Selma High School in Alabama. He was named Class 5A first-team All-State three times. Nelson committed to Penn State in June 2022. During his senior year of high school, Nelson totaled 72 tackles, seven interceptions, seven pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Nelson also scored on defense, running back a fumble and two interceptions for touchdowns. Nelson was a four-star prospect according to 247Sports’ composite ratings and ranked as the 10th-best safety and 133rd overall player in the class. He committed to Penn State June 25, 2022.

Where he stands: Nelson entered a crowded secondary during his freshman year. KJ Winston became a star in the back end for the Nittany Lions and established himself as one of Penn State’s best tacklers. Winston and Jaylen Reed both earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selections. Keaton Ellis graduated after five seasons. Johnny Dixon and Daequan Hardy provided and solid play last season but are off to the NFL. Nelson could see the field in dime packages and rotate with other depth players. This could be the season Nelson develops well enough to earn a starting spot in 2025. He added 23 pounds since last season and is now listed at 223.

New defensive coordinator Tom Allen could find a role for Nelson as a highly recruited prospect with high upside. 

A quote by Nelson: “I don’t have to focus on finding a home, because I’ve found a home now.”— Nelson to NSN the night he announced his commitment to Penn State

A quote about Nelson: “He’s an instinctive player. I think he shows flashes of that, and I think the ball production there. Eight interceptions is a lot, especially at the high school level. So I think that shows some indication of a guy that has a really good feel for the game.” — 247Sports National Recruiting Analyst Cooper Petagna to NSN soon after Nelson’s commitment

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