July 17, 2017
Charles Nelson has done a little of everything for Oregon over the past three seasons, making him a candidate for the award honoring college football’s most versatile player in the nation.
Nelson was announced Monday as a member of the preseason watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, given since 2010 to the most versatile player in major college football by the Louisville Sports Commission. Nelson also was on the award’s watch list as a sophomore in 2015.
Oregon’s leading receiver in 2016, Nelson was a two-way starter in 2015 and the Ducks’ special teams MVP in 2014. He is the program’s all-time leader in kickoff return yardage with 2,173, and last year finished fourth in the Pac-12 Conference with 131.4 all-purpose yards per game.
The Hornung Award is named for former Green Bay Packers star Paul Hornung, whom legendary coach Vince Lombardi called “the most versatile man ever to play the game.” A national commission of 16 former players and journalists selects the finalists and winner, with a 17th vote provided by fan input.
Nelson was Oregon’s leading receiver with 52 receptions as a junior in 2016, for 554 yards and five touchdowns. He finished second in the Pac-12 with 879 kickoff return yards, including the second 100-yard return for a touchdown of his career. He also fielded six punts.
Oregon enters the start of preseason camp July 31 with an extremely young receiving corps, given the departures of Dwayne Stanford, Jalen Brown, Darren Carrington II and the top three tight ends from 2016. Nelson is the only returning player on the roster who had more than 23 receptions last fall.
That performance came a year after Nelson switched sides of the ball late in September 2015. He ultimately started eight games at safety and finished the season with 47 tackles and two interceptions, while still averaging 105.5 all-purpose yards per game.
Nelson burst onto the scene in 2014, earning second-team all-Pac-12 honors as a true freshman with 1,017 all-purpose yards and also 17 tackles, primarily on kickoff coverage. Later that academic year, Nelson contributed to Oregon’s national-title winning track and field team as a sprinter.