Andrew Nelson (Hershey, Pa./Hershey) grew up in a Penn State household. So the last thing the four-star tackle is going to do is rush into a decommitment after the NCAA hammered the Nittany Lions with sanctions Monday.
A top-20 tackle nationally, Nelson was at a team camp for the last several days, including Monday when the NCAA announced Penn State would receive massive scholarship reductions and a four-year bowl ban. When he finished working out Monday night, he called Lions offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
“He spent time reaching out to Coach McWhorter and Coach Johnson, getting a better understanding after those conversations,” his father, David Nelson, said. “Right now, he’s a Penn Stater.
“Obviously, as things continue to develop I don’t know how he’ll feel about it. He’s not excited about it. He understands there’s some opportunities that might not be there when he originally gave his commitment. Right now he believes there’s still more pluses than minuses. He’s on board with Penn State.”
David, who also played at Hershey, graduated from Penn State along with his brother and sister. His mother worked at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The Nelsons are a “huge Penn State family,” David said.
“(Andrew) grew up in that environment. Since he was 8 years old playing midget football, his goal was to be a Division I-A football player and a Penn State football player. He reached that goal and some individuals crushed those goals, and it’s upsetting to him, to have a dream like that for that many years, to be collateral damage. It’s upsetting for a kid like him, but it’s character building for him, too.
“He’s got some tough decisions ahead of him, but I think my son is up to making the best decision.”
Despite being a Penn State fan and dreaming of playing in Beaver Stadium growing up, David said the family did its due diligence when it came to Andrew’s commitment. The family researched the situation, followed it on the news and believed the NCAA would not involve itself. The family was shocked that the NCAA not only handed down sanctions but that they were so severe.
Much of the conversation with McWhorter and Johnson surrounded just exactly what the sanctions are and how it impacts Andrew. McWhorter and Johnson also were selling the family on what still remains in State College.
“There’s an opportunity for a great education. I’m a Penn State graduate, so I believe in that. That’s one of the reasons he’s going there,” David said. “There’s the opportunity to play in front of 108,000 people seven times a year and be taught by a fabulous staff.
“They said if you were to make a decision to decommit, they would understand. They think the world of Andrew and would be excited for him to stay on.”
Though Andrew is still evaluating his options, he has yet to speak to any other programs. Maryland, Missouri, Northwestern, Pittsburgh and Temple also offered the 6-foot-5, 262-pound lineman. Facebook messages from those programs have gone unanswered.
“He hasn’t responded to anybody,” David said. “Some of those guys, in the recruiting cycle you build a relationship with other guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gave a courtesy call. Where he is now is he’s continuing his commitment with Penn State.”
Andrew was high on Maryland before committing to Penn State, and the Terrapins will likely be the team to show him the most attention now.
“Maryland met a lot of Andrew’s goals. It’s close with a beautiful campus. It has the major he’s interested in (kinesiology). Maryland was a good fit in a lot of ways,” David said. “Maryland was a strong consideration for him at the time. They’ve been the most persistent.”
Several Penn State 2013 commitments have already stated they plan to stick with Penn State, including four-star prospects Adam Breneman, Brendan Mahon and Garrett Sickels. The Lions suffered a decommitment from four-star cornerback Ross Douglas on Monday, and he committed to Michigan the following day. ESPN 150 defensive tackle Greg Webb decommitted this past weekend, but it was not a direct result of the sanctions.