Matt Nelson was almost certain that he wanted to play football for the University of Iowa before taking a recent recruiting visit to Stanford.
His trip last week to northern California made him certain that he wanted to be a Hawkeye.
“I had an idea before I went out to Stanford, but it really sealed the deal,” Nelson said. “Stanford was absolutely fantastic. But it just felt right at Iowa.”
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound defensive end/tight end from Cedar Rapids Xavier turned down scholarship offers from Stanford, Notre Dame, Florida State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa State, among others. He recently had trimmed his list to Iowa, Notre Dame and Stanford.
Nelson appreciates that his family and friends won’t have to travel far to watch him play in college. But he said distance from home was a not a factor in his decision.
“Close to home or not, you’re going to meet great people,” Nelson said. “And I like to travel. So distance isn’t a factor at all.”
Nelson’s decision instead came down to the people in the Iowa program, most notably head coach Kirk Ferentz, strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and defensive line coach Reese Morgan.
“(Coach Morgan) played a huge role because he’s the position coach for the defensive ends,” Nelson said. “I spent most of my time around him and coach Doyle.
“If you don’t like your position coach, you’re not going to like the university because you’re not going to like playing football because you’re always around them. You always have to have great respect and admiration. You just have to like him in general.”
Nelson is the fifth high school senior-to-be from in-state to commit to Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class and the ninth player overall.
Iowa has offered scholarships to at least six players from in-state in the 2014 senior class. Urbandale receiver Allen Lazard is the only one who has turned down the Hawkeyes. He committed to Iowa State, where his father played and where his brother currently plays.
“That’s a cool thing, but it wasn’t a huge factor in my decision,” Nelson said of the recent wave of in-state commitments. “If we’re successful, it’ll be a real cool thing.”
Nelson said he became convinced that Iowa, which is coming off a 4-8 season, is moving back in the right direction while observing the players and coaches throughout the recruiting process. Nelson made several visits to the Iowa campus this spring and was impressed by the attitude, the work ethic and the message being sent by Ferentz on a daily basis.
“He’s always consistent in his preaching and his teaching,” Nelson said of Ferentz, who is entering his 15th season as head coach. “All the guys are working super hard. I am definitely looking forward to see how they fare next season.”
Nelson is ranked as a three-star recruit by Scout.com and the 35th-best defensive end in the 2014 class. He is the sixth player to commit to Iowa this month.
Indianola offensive lineman Keegan Render chose Iowa over Iowa State on Saturday.
Proud to be a Hawkeye! #gohawks
— Matt Nelson (@m_nelson33) June 27, 2013
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football