Charles Nelson is having an incredible season.
The Daytona Beach Seabreeze High athlete, who entered his senior year with big question marks surrounding his recovery from a major knee injury, has answered those questions with big-time plays in every game.
He’s a huge reason why the Sandcrabs will be playing for the Class 6A, District 9 title Friday night against rival Mainland High.
And if the accomplishments have not been enough to let him know he had come full circle from his injury, a phone call Monday night certainly offered Nelson that reassuring stamp of approval.
Nelson (5-foot-9, 170 pounds), whose college recruitment had staggered to a snail’s pace, was offered a scholarship by the University of Southern Cal, and his excitement was obvious in his voice.
“It makes me feel good,” said Nelson, the No. 1-ranked player in the Sentinel's 2014 Central Florida Super60. “A lot of people had backed off and were like, “We’re not going to offer you because we’re not sure how you’re going to be because of the knee.”
He talked to three different USC coaches, including interim head coach Ed Orgeron and the versatile Nelson, who plays defensive back, wide receiver, kick returner and sometimes even running back, was told he could play any variety of positions for the Trojans.
“They were talking about how they watched my film and they see how versatile I am and stuff like that,” Nelson said. “They said I could play offense and special teams.”
The speedy Nelson might be even better than he was before the ACL tear. Nelson is having a tremendous season.
As a receiver he has 28 catches for 409 yards and seven touchdowns but he might be at his most dangerous when he’s returning kicks. Nelson has returned five kickoffs this season and is averaging a whopping 52 yards per return and has scored twice. On defense as a cornerback he averages about six tackles a game, has three tackles for loss, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“I am surprised a little bit just because I didn’t know how it would be,” Nelson said of his comeback from knee surgery. “There was a kid on our football team who graduated a few years ago, Chris Banks, he tore his ACL and he was talking to me about it a little bit, but other than that, I just rehabbed and did what I had to do.
“I never thought something like that would happen to me.”
USC makes offer No. 18 for Nelson, and he said the Trojans are like at the top of the list right now. He also has said he likes Wisconsin and his other offers are from Miami, USF, Boston College, Cincinnati, UConn, Duke, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, North Carolina, Temple, Wake Forest and Western Michigan.
There is one offer missing, however, that Nelson said could very well supplant the rest should it come to fruition.
“Florida State … I wouldn’t mind seeing them offer me,” Nelson said. “I’ve always wanted to go there since I was little.”
He won’t start looking at schools seriously until after the season and he said distance, like in the case of USC, won’t be a problem. He said it also helps that USC has a pair of former Daytona Beach players in ex-Mainland stars Leonard Williams and Quinton Powell already having success at the West Coast school. Williams was the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year last season and Powell sees spot time on defense this year as a freshman.
“Yeah, it does … just knowing that there are a couple of guys out there who I know and who I have played against and that they are doing well makes me realize what’s possible and what I might be able to do if I was out there,” Nelson said.
Speaking of Mainland, however, there are more pressing priorities this week. Nelson and the Sandcrabs have a district title to contend for against former teammates Trey Rodriguez and Kailik Williams.
“We’re playing for the district championship and that’s what every kid wants to be playing for at the end of the year,” Nelson said.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting, Instagram at os_recruiting and on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.