A lot can be accomplished by hard work and setting goals. Hard work can bring the worst of the worst to the all-star team, and hard work is what defines somebody like Blake Nelson.  

The senior defensive end is in his final year with the Colorado Mesa University football team, who is currently in first place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, and the impact Nelson has made on the team is immeasurable.  

Nelson comes from a multi-sport background where he was a basketball and football star at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., where he graduated from before coming to CMU.  

Nelson initially played as a safety when he was in high school. However, when Nelson arrived at CMU, he was switched to the defensive end position and the Denver native had to adjust and work his way through the system to eventually earn a starting role.

Courtesy Blake Nelson

Nelson was initially a walk-on and ended up redshirting his freshman year at CMU. Normally walk-ons have to prove themselves, and become stars on the scout team before playing in an actual game.

“I didn’t think I was going to be playing too much being switched to D-line,” Nelson said. “I committed to building myself in the weight room and the film room to being the best player I can be.”

Nelson would defy all the odds and become a starter within a year.  

In his first season out of redshirting, Nelson had 64 tackles and 3.5 sacks, while starting all 11 games. That was enough for him to earn All-RMAC Honorable Mention honors. The numbers would only go up for Nelson after that season. Sophomore year was even better than the year before, as Nelson amassed 101 tackles and also led the team in tackles for loss (15) and sacks (6).

Junior year would prove to be the best season of Nelson’s career thus far. He led the team in tackles (107), sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (15) for the second year in a row.

Ever since his freshman year, Nelson has started every single game with the Mavericks and has not sustained any significant injuries during that time span.  

“I kind of told myself I was not going to miss any games for any more stupid reasons in college,” Nelson said. “I was gonna do whatever it took to be on the field come game day.”

Over the past four years, while playing on the Gridiron, Nelson has established himself as one of the leaders on the defense and proved that football is no place for slackers or stereotypes. Nelson made the transition from safety to defensive end look smooth and easy, despite the number of differences between the two positions.  

“I try to practice what I preach by being a leader on the field,” Nelson said. “If I am working the moves and doing what I’m telling the younger guys to do and I’m producing that way it holds much more credibility and it trickles down to the younger guys.”

Nelson only stands at 5’11, which is below average height for an above average defensive end, yet the skills Nelson carries from being a former safety helps him explode off the line with tremendous speed.    

“It’s my last year and I just try to get better each and every year,” Nelson said. “I feel like I had a pretty good season last year and it’s kinda hard to top that but that’s just my mentality, just to progress and get better every year.”

Now in the midst of his senior year, Nelson is set to surpass his stats last season as well as lead the Mavericks into the playoffs for another consecutive year. Hard work and determination has put Blake Nelson on the map and it has kept him in the position he continues to grow with, week in and week out.  

CMU is closing in on sealing a first-place finish in the RMAC and, the defense for the Mavericks continue to be stellar in key situations throughout the season. The “bend but don’t break” defense will continue to thrive as Blake Nelson continues to lead in the trenches.

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Matt Kennedy
Matt Kennedy is a sophomore mass communication major from Colorado Springs. He is in his second year with The Criterion, has served as the assistant sports editor and is now sports editor. Kennedy went to Doherty High School where he wrote for his school paper for three years and he aspires to continue in the sports journalism field after graduation to pursue a career as a sportscaster.

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