If Matt Nelson ultimately decides to play football at the University of Iowa, Hawkeye fans probably should thank Dr. Ned Amendola as much as the Iowa coaches for landing him.
Nelson just finished his junior year at Cedar Rapids Xavier and is trying to choose between Iowa, Notre Dame and Stanford after recently trimming his list to those three schools. He wants to follow in Amendola’s footsteps and become an orthopedic surgeon and that’s why it meant a great deal to Nelson when he met with Amendola during a recent visit to Iowa City.
“He’s a great guy,” Nelson said of Amendola, who in addition to being a renowned surgeon is the Director of the University of Iowa Sports Medicine Center. “He’s just incredibly knowledgeable about the field. I just learned so much while talking there, it seemed like.”
The 6-foot-8, 250-pound Nelson is being recruited as both a defensive end and tight end, with Iowa preferring him on defense.
NCAA rules prohibit Amendola or anybody affiliated with the University of Iowa from commenting on Nelson until Nelson signs a national letter of intent. That won’t happen until February when Nelson is a senior in high school.
Nelson said Iowa’s chance of landing him is helped “tremendously” by Amendola’s influence and by the overall strength of the UI Sports Medicine Center.
Nelson plans to make his decision near the end of this month or in early July. He will visit Notre Dame on Friday before taking an extended trip to Stanford, which is scheduled for June 18-22. It will be Nelson’s second visit to the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. He also visited in April and left with a scholarship offer from the Irish.
“All three are even right now with each other,” Nelson said when asked if he had a favorite among his three finalists. “Those three clearly stand out to me, just the combination of the coaching staffs, academics and the programs themselves.”
Iowa is the only school among Nelson’s three finalists that finished with a losing record last season at 4-8, including 2-6 in the Big Ten. Notre Dame finished 12-1 and was defeated by Alabama 42-14 in the national championship game, while Stanford finished 12-2.
“I trust that coach Ferentz will right the ship,” Nelson said of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who has led the Hawkeyes to bowl-eligible status in 12 of the past 13 seasons. “If you watched their spring practices you definitely could tell that they’re not satisfied whatsoever with the 4-8 season. They’re doing everything within their power to hopefully make it to a bowl game this year.”
Nelson said his recruitment is a popular topic with his friends. He frequently hears advice on which school to choose, but not just from his friends who are Hawkeye fans.
“There are a few people that are Notre Dame fans that say it’d be great to see you go there, too,” Nelson said. “I get pitches from everybody, it seems like.”
Nelson’s thoughts have been consumed by the recruiting process this spring while his stock has continued to soar. He recently received a scholarship offer from Florida State, but it came after he had narrowed his list to three schools.
“Pretty frequently I think about this,” said Nelson, who also is an accomplished basketball player. “Whenever I’m just sitting here my mind wonders and it wanders to that, typically. It gets brought up in conversation a few times. I’ve talked about it enough that (my friends) have heard everything I have to say about it. They’ve read the articles and all that sort of stuff.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football