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Miami Hurricanes 2019 Recruiting Notebook: OL Zion Nelson

Miami is playing the long game with a developmental prospect for the OL.

OL Zion Nelson (60) could be a long-term prospect that pays off for Miami down the line.

In this installment of The Recruit Notebook, we look at a player who will need time to develop, but could be a worthwhile investment down the line: OT Zion Nelson.


Zion Nelson is a very late addition to Miami’s recruiting class. The 6’6” 245lb former basketball player hails from Sumter, SC, and had been focusing on football only recently. The former Appalachian State commit is a player that Miami had been recruiting behind the scenes, and that came to light when Nelson committed in the weeks before the Early Signing Period.

Nelson is an interesting prospect. He played LT for Sumter, and showed very well while doing so. No, he didn’t face ACC sized linemen every down, but Nelson performed well enough to be named to the Carolina Bowl All-Star game representing SC. And that wasn’t just honorary, it was earned. Nelson graded out at 84% on his blocking for the year, and added a healthy number of pancake blocks as well.

Nelson took an under-the-radar official visit to Miami on December 7th, then committed to the Canes shortly thereafter. He was a 2-star ranked player at the time, but has since seen a slight ranking bump up to 3-star (the standard for a player who signs an FBS scholarship).

All in all, Nelson had a good senior season and recruiting wise it worked out about as good as could have been expected. He committed to a mid-major program, worked hard, got noticed by a major P5 program, and flipped his commitment to the higher profile team. This is a scenario that many recruits dream of, but Nelson made it a reality.

Recruiting Ranking

On the 247sports composite, Nelson is a 3-star prospect, the #191 OT nationally in this class, #39 in the State of South Carolina, and #2264 recruit overall.

Nelson flipped to Miami from Appalachian State, and also holds offers from Georgia Southern and Western Kentucky.

As a Player

In that he’s a former basketball player, Nelson has good mobility and footwork. He’s tall, long, and incredibly lean. Usually, a player of his build and athletic history comes to the gridiron and plays DE or TE. It is unusual an interesting that Nelson plays LT, but different can be good.

Nelson shows a willingness to block, which is good to see from a lineman. He uses angles and leverage to great success at the HS level, and that will probably be a part of his game moving forward.

There are 2 glaring things that need addressing, however: 1. technique as Nelson is relatively new to football, and 2. physical development. There is no way that a 245-250lb player will be successful on the OL in the ACC, least of all at Left Tackle.


  • Height
  • Length
  • Athleticism
  • Mobility


  • Technique
  • Physical development
  • Physicality at the point of attack

2019 Outlook

While Nelson has had some success in his HSFB career, and has some physical traits that could lend themselves to him being a decent player down the line, he’s 2, maybe 3 years away from contributing at Miami, if ever.

Chances for a redshirt: 10/10

Nelson is 100% a developmental player, and development of the nature he needs takes time. That time undoubtedly begins with a redshirt in 2019.

That’s it for this installment of The Recruit Notebook.

Go Canes