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Corey Nelson: From Hero To Zero?

Corey Nelson garnered nothing but high praise from the coaches as well as the media during the spring. Bob Stoops went on record as calling Nelson "the best player" on the Oklahoma Defense while at times "it wasn't even close." Now, we all knew, heading into the season, that Nelson's biggest downfall would be that he is backing up the preseason pick for the Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Travis Lewis (Lewis has led the team in tackles for the past three seasons and nothing was going to get in the way of him having a repeat performance). Yet, much of the speculation with the comments Stoops threw out there was that they would find a way to get him onto the field. Nelson had achieved a near All-American status without ever having to step onto the field with significant playing time and prove himself.

Low and behold, Nelson would get his shot in the starting lineup with the foot injury of Lewis. If I am remembering correctly, this is a spot we all said that we were not worried about given the fact that almost everyone was raving about T-Lew's backup. The experimentation ended and Sooner fans were about to see what Nelson was made of.

With the high praise and excitement that was built up around this kid, you would have thought he would have had an impressive first few games. However, let's take a look at the stats shall we?

2011 Game Log Tackles Interceptions
9/3 Tulsa W 47-14 3 1 2 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9/17 @Florida State W 23-13 3 1 2 0.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9/24 Missouri W 38-28 1 1 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

As it currently stands, Nelson has only recorded a total of 7 tackles through three games and only 3 of those coming as solo tackles. Lewis was able to come back and play not only against Florida St. but also against Missouri which of course took snaps away from Nelson. If we were to go based on the current stats, it would appear that Nelson would be on track for right about 50ish tackles on the season, and that is if he is the starter. At one of the more important positions on defense, Corey Nelson still has some progressing to do.

It is evident that while Nelson has the talent, he is not quite ready to play on the big stage and to fill the shoes of one of the best linebackers Oklahoma has ever had in Lewis. There are still high hopes for Nelson, but at this point he continues to make small mistakes while have a solid grasp on what his responsibilities are.

During the spring, Nelson was labeled as a superstar in the making. Sooner Nation will have to let this season play out before Nelson is able to step into that role. Once a sure starter to now a bench player, the coaches have ceased their experimentation the get Nelson on the field for the time being. From what we as fans thought was sure to be an All-American (maybe not this season but in the future) will once again have to wait in the shadows. "The best player" on this Oklahoma defense will continue lurking until it is his time to strike.