Q&A: Charles Nelson rises above expectations
Not many true freshmen have the ability to make an instant impact on a top-five team, especially when playing for a team with the schemes Oregon has.
Sure, there are rare athletes like De’Anthony Thomas from the past and Royce Freeman who is playing this year, both players came into their first years playing at a high level, but what about the other guys?
Charles Nelson is proving that you don’t have to be a starter on offense or defense to have the ability to impact a game and ultimately change the outcome in favor of Oregon. The special teams star is making noise around Autzen Stadium and all around the country with his incredible kick, punt coverage and amazing ball return skills.
On the season, Nelson has just three receptions for 27 yards a receiver, but four punt returns for 60 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, the Florida native has amassed eight total tackles with six of those being solo ones.
The Emerald spoke with Nelson after practice Tuesday.
Q: How has life as a Duck been for you thus far in your young career?
A: It’s been great. The experience has been to enjoy every moment of it, have fun practicing with this team and live in the moment. The weather isn’t so great right now but it’s been good so far so it doesn’t really bother me. I’m from Florida so it would rain and get hot all at the same time so this is livable.
Q: What have the coaches and players said about your game-changing abilities on coverages and as a return man?
A: They just say, “Good job, go out there and do your best. Play fast and get touchdowns.” I just try to do what I can to help the team and whether that’s a big return or a big tackle, it all goes towards the team.
Q: Which was a better moment for you as a Duck – your punt return for a touchdown or your massive hit on punt coverage (even though it resulted in a penalty)?
A: I’m going to say the touchdown because it’s the first game of the year. It’s a punt return so everybody is excited. I was excited. Plus, it was the first game so it’s something I’ll always remember. But the hit, I enjoyed it but the penalty kind of hurt so I’m going to say the touchdown.
Q: Some people say you have to be a little crazy to play special team, what do you do to get fired up to play on that unit?
A: Nothing really gets me fired up. I just go out there and play full speed. I just have to do what we’ve been coached and see what happens. You can’t be scared to go fast and play hard. You can’t be scared to make mistakes at all, just have to go all out and see what happens.
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