Miami Hurricanes LT Zion Nelson wants to become more dominant

ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24: (L-R) Florida.(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - AUGUST 24: (L-R) Florida.(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Miami Hurricanes left tackle Zion Nelson has come a long way from allowing nine sacks as a true freshman in 2019. Nelson is part of the Miami offensive line who returns everyone in 2021. An incredibly inexperienced OL in 2019 has turned into one with well over 100 collegiate starts entering the 2021 season.

Nelson is part of a Miami OL that has grown together over the past three seasons. Right tackle Jarrid Williams is entering his second season with the Hurricanes. The rest of the Miami OL is entering at least their third season together. Returning an OL intact for a second consecutive season is rare in modern college football.

Nelson is the projected LT with Navaughn Donaldson at left guard, Corey Gaynor at center, Delone Scaife the favorite to start at right guard and Williams at right tackle. Donaldson and Scaife could switch sides and both will be challenged by sophomore Jakai Clark. Miami will have more depth on the OL than they have in a long time.

Nelson spoke to reporters last week about the return of the entire OL, the progress he’s made, the work he is put in in the weight room and how he wants to dominant this season. No one on the Miami Hurricanes roster has improved as much as Nelson has in the past two years.

"“I feel like, for the most part, the biggest thing was for us to all be together…I’m really happy about that. I want to become more dominant on the field. I’d say I’m good, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be.’ For the most part, my confidence probably comes from preparation.Freshman year, I didn’t really know how exactly to work around the whole college thing, just trying to keep up with school, the weight room and all that good stuff. Now I’ve got everything on track — or, I don’t have everything on track, but I try to for the most part.All that good stuff that coaches put us through, it just really helps.”"

Nelson improved greatly in 2020 receiving a 79,7 pass-blocking grade in the final six games of the season from Pro Football Focus via the Miami Herald from 247. That was the third-best in the ACC at his position. Nelson has started 20 of the 23 games he has played the last two seasons. His experience will help in 2021.

Nelson has worked hard to become a steady part of the Miami OL. Working with Feeley, Nelson has remade his body. Nelson entered Miami at 235 pounds and enters the 2021 season at 315. The Hurricanes rotation on the OL should go eight or nine deep. Three other OL should be in the rotation besides those mentioned.

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Redshirt sophomore John Campbell and freshmen Jalen Rivers and Issiah Walker are versatile and can all play guard and tackle. Garin Justice has helped develop the Miami Hurricanes OL in the 14 months since being hired as their position coach. The OL should continue to progress as Miami enters the 2021 season.