Prairie View’s Jeff Nelson found his new school -- Colorado State University-Pueblo -- had a lot of things working in his favor.
He made his college commitment to the ThunderWolves last week. The letter signing will take place later this spring.
Nelson wanted to play either NCAA Division I or Division II golf.
“They are a highly ranked D2 team and golf has always been my focus,” Nelson said. “The coach, the team and the facilities are all I could ask for. Over the last year, I created a list of goals and college criteria. They fit almost all of them.”
He talked to players, coaches and alumni too. He said those responses followed the same theme .. they liked the college and the coach.
“It is a D-II college with a golf course within walking distance of the campus,” Nelson said. “I found out this is rare while in discussions with other colleges.”
Nelson competed in several Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado tournaments at Walking Stick Golf Course in Pueblo.
“So I had been to the campus and Walking Stick more than 10 times,” Nelson said. “I was very familiar with the golf and campus layout. I have never been in the classrooms or dorms.”
After Nelson made his choice, he knew he’d made the right call.
“I had made the college criteria shortlist, and they ended up with the best score in my mind after phone discussions with the coach and other alumni,” Nelson said. “The only item CSU-Pueblo did not check off the list was year-round tropical weather.
“I love to play golf in 90-degree plus heat.”
Recruiting during a pandemic was a strange experience for many high-school athletes, including Nelson.
“It made it very difficult to gain interest. Scholarship opportunities were almost non-existent due to the negative impacts it caused worldwide,” Nelson said. “Due to existing players or seniors being allowed to compete another year on the team, opportunities for freshmen were cut to a minimum.
Visits with the coaching staff were tough, too, because of recommendations to avoid contact, the coaches couldn’t watch him compete and he couldn’t meet the coaches in person.
“.During recruiting, I used Zoom meetings and emails, which was weird. But it worked out. I picked colleges I was interested in and emailed them my resume and letter of interest,” Nelson said.
Nelson drew interest from King University in Bristol, Tennessee, the University of South Carolina-Aiken and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, plans to study business management. His goals after college are to play on the Korn-Ferry Tour and then join the PGA tour.
“I am nervous and excited,” he said. “I am nervous because it is new to me and a lot can happen. But I know it will work out well. I am excited for opportunities to come and improvements I will make in myself and helping the team.
“I am grateful for all of the help from my parents, mentors and coaches,” he concluded. “I think I am ready and will do great because of their guidance along the way.”
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