LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
It’s not fair to call North Laurel quarterback Michael Nelson a quarterback.
“He’s our quarterback. He’s a tailback, a wide receiver, a kickoff return guy; he’s our punt return guy. He’s a safety on defense,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said.
Although quarterback is a marquee position in football, the North Laurel junior rarely if ever leaves the field. He is capable of making a big play from any position. As a sophomore he was the team’s No. 2 rusher with 860 yards and 10 touchdowns. His three interceptions led the team with one returned for a touchdown. Add in three touchdown passes and he tied Gabe Blair for the team scoring lead with 78 points. His 41 tackles were also among the team leaders.
Nelson’s all-around success as a sophomore came as a bit of a surprise.
“It surprises me, but there is also room for improvement. I need to do a lot better,” Nelson said.
The desire to be a better football player led Nelson to summer football camps hosted by Ohio State, Alabama, and Nike. If the college coaches in attendance were not aware of Nelson when he arrived, they were when they checked their stopwatches. He was timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Ohio State. With a laser timer at the Nike camp he recorded a 4.57
“He’s a very fast player. He might be the best athlete in the surrounding counties,” Larkey said.
Nelson is also getting interest from Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, and Ivy League member Dartmouth. His dream would be to play football for Kentucky.
“He’s just going to be a junior, so he’s not getting recruited as hard yet,” Larkey said. “At the end of this season is when he will start getting recruited real hard.”
Most of his workouts during the summer were at wide receiver and defensive back. Those are the positions he would most likely play in college.
“I did some quarterback and worked on my speed. I did a lot of speed drills,” Nelson said.
Larkey said when Nelson returned to practice this summer he was bigger, stronger, and faster than when last season ended.
“He’s as a good an athlete as we will ever have on the football field,” Larkey said.
Although all players can improve, Larkey sees most of the growth for Nelson coming on the non-athletic side of football.
“He’s got to make more plays. He’s got to be a bigger leader than he was last year. He’s just got to take the game over at times,” Larkey said. “If something happens wrong, he’s got to learn to go to the next play and not worry about it.”
Nelson sees his skills on the defensive side needing the most work. Already known as a hard-hitter, he would like to make more upfield tackles and break up more passes.
“He’s got a great future ahead of him,” Larkey said. “He’s a hard worker and he’s very competitive,” Larkey said.