60 days to Miami football: Zion Nelson could start as a true freshman

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 15: Offensive lineman Carlos Joseph
MIAMI - NOVEMBER 15: Offensive lineman Carlos Joseph /

Zion Nelson was one of the breakout performers of the spring for the Miami football program. After enrolling early, Nelson has a chance to start on the offensive line this fall.

Zion Nelson signed with the Miami football program as a three-star offensive lineman as part of the Surge 19 recruiting class. Nelson was a breakout star during spring football as Miami sorted out an uncertain offensive line. The only seemingly sure starters this fall are Corey Gaynor, Delone Scaife and Navaugn Donaldson.

Gaynor is locked in to be the starting center and Scaife and Donaldson have unspecified, secure locations as starters on the offensive line. Nelson was the first-team left tackle for a significant portion of spring practice. Scaife seemed to be headed towards a move from right to left tackle.

Nelson entered Miami as an early enrollee in January as a 6’5, 240-pound three-star offensive tackle. He was anticipated to be a project for offensive line coach Butch Barry and strength and conditioning coach David Feeley. Nelson needed to considerably bulk up from 240 pounds. That is grossly undersized on an FBS OL.

Nelson played his senior year of high in Sumpter, SC at 235 pounds. That is a weight more attributable to linebacker than offensive tackle. He has since bulked up to 275 pounds. Nelson discussed his secret to adding muscle with a unique diet plan at night with Christopher Stock of Inside the U in May.

"“Something that probably really helped me was at night I would eat Subway and drink a couple of Gatorade protein shakes. That’s part of what it was.”"

Nelson seemed to be a player that would help the Miami football team on the field after he put in hours of work in the weight room. He seemed destined for a redshirt, true freshman season in 2019. Nelson quickly dispelled that theory with his play during spring practice. Now he has a chance to start at left tackle.

Nelson is the first team left tackle on offense as Miami departs for summer after Paradise Camp. The freshman LT spoke to the media in May as relayed by Stock.

"“I was pretty confident,” Nelson said. “I wasn’t worried or anything, but it was kind of surprising that I moved up so fast the way I did. A lot of it is time management. Starting off I had to wake up around 6 o’clock every morning.I am definitely not used to that. We had 7 o’clock meetings a lot of time and I was just tired all of the time.”"

Nelson is aware that the adjustment to playing football in a Power Five conference will be vastly different than the experience he brings to the Miami football program.

"“A lot of it probably going to be the environment like the crowd in every game…I’m definitely not going to be used to that with having a really big crowd around me.”"

Next. Paradise Camp continues to work with addition of 3-star OT. dark

Nelson is the type of signee that Barry prefers on the offensive line. Stock’s Inside the U colleague Andrew Ivins told Josh Darrow of the Five Rings (it’s a Canes thing) podcast the Barry’s prefers lean high school offensive linemen that can bulk up. Nelson perfectly fits that profile and has worked hard to add muscle quickly.