I did my best to not tell anyone that I played football.
I did my best to not tell anyone that I played football.
Robert Nelson Jr., what has it been like coming back on campus as an alumni vs. a player. Do you miss it? What do you miss the most?
Robert Nelson Jr: Even after my last game, I wish that I had three or five more years to do it all over again. That’s how important this place has been to me. It changed my life forever in great ways.
Tell me about campus life for a student athlete
Robert Nelson Jr: You get a chance to communicate with fans and meet and network with people who aren’t players, but still part of the Sun Devil family. I did my best to not tell anyone that I played football. I actually told people that I played golf just so I could get to know people and have them get to know me for who I really am.
Some of your best friends that will be lifelong friends are who?
Robert Nelson Jr: RJ Robinson, George Bell, Steve Gallon, Eddie Elder, John Clark, Steve Gallon, Austin Williams…Those are the guys that I came into the program with. They showed me around. They were like big brothers to me. The showed me the places to go, and the places to stay away from. I lived with Steve Gallon, and he taught me how to read the bible and it spoke to me. RJ Robinson was my roommate and is like a brother to me today. He changed my whole character and has me smiling and happy even when I don’t want to. He won’t let me be in a bad mood.
On and off the field the guys treat each other like brothers.
What are you doing in your free time when you’re not training?
Robert Nelson Jr: Training, training, and more training.
If I feel like I didn’t have a good workout, I’ll go work out again.
Tell me about your post-season workout regimen (with who/where/how you are training).
Robert Nelson Jr: I did my off-season training in Boca Raton, FL with Patrick Peterson Sr. and Jr. I trained with former Falcons WR Terrence Mathis. I had a great pro-day and now I’m working out in Chandler with body builder Harold Allen who is helping me to get bigger. I do a lot of work in sand pits, running A-Mountain, and doing pool work. I train close to campus because I know once I leave, this place is always going to be close to my heart. When I get to the top of A-Mountain, I can see the whole Phoenix and Tempe area and it helps clear my mind.
I understand you had a great Pro Day. Tell me about that, and what you feel sets you apart from other players.
Robert Nelson Jr: I have a drive and passion for this game. I really love this game. It’s not about money, never been about money. I’ve been playing since I was 4 years old. If I don’t feel like I didn’t have a good workout, I’ll go work out again.
What do you foresee happening on draft day?
Robert Nelson Jr: You know, I think I’ll get drafted. That’s my vision. If I don’t, I want to get picked up by a team that wants me and will give me an opportunity to make the roster. It will make my family happy. It’ll make the Sun Devil Family happy. Once a Sun Devil gets drafted or picked up by a team, I know all of Sun Devil Nation supports them and welcomes them home with open arms.
Tell Sun Devil Nation something about Rob Nelson that they might not know.
Robert Nelson Jr: Two years ago going into my junior season, I moved my nephew who was 15 at the time out to Arizona and took full guardianship over him. So I was a full-time student athlete and father figure at the same time. It gets tough because I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into. You have to make sure they’re eating, clothed, and have a place to lay their head. I’m a young adult, so it’s like taking care of two of me. It’s a challenge, but I knew that if I could do this, I could be successful in anything in life. Raising him will be one of the more rewarding things I do in my life. It’s a big risk, but taking someone in and helping to make all of their dreams come true and helping them make something out of their life while trying to make your own dreams come true is double the challenge. It makes you proud to help someone accomplish their goals while accomplishing your own.
I’m just a regular person who has been blessed with an opportunity, so that is where I try to impact their lives.
You recently met a young man, a freshman in high school, who has followed ASU his whole life, and you are his all-time favorite Sun Devil. How did that make you feel knowing that he also plays CB, tries to model his game after you, and that you can have that kind of impact on kids?
Robert Nelson Jr: It made me want to work harder every day when you find out that kids out there have me as their favorite player. I didn’t know that. I touched me. It makes me want to work harder every day and motivate them every day. If I can do it at ASU at 175 pounds, then anyone can do it. You just have to work hard at it and having someone like that who watches everything you do makes you not want to fail them as a player or a person. You want to be positive, stay out of trouble, hang around the right people. You never know who’s watching, so it makes you want to be a better person overall.
Life is already a challenge. You can motivate them and show them how to go about life. Even people who aren’t athletes, you can still show them how to be positive and successful in whatever they want to do. I’m just a regular person who has been blessed with an opportunity, so that is where I try to impact their lives.
Is there anything you’d like to say to Sun Devil Nation as you move toward the next chapter in your life playing professional football?
Robert Nelson Jr: To all of Sun Devil Nation, always bleed maroon and gold…Never red and blue. Go Devils!
Are you a Die Hard Devil? Why?
Robert Nelson Jr: I think I was a Die Hard Devil before I even put on that Maroon and Gold jersey. I’m a Die Hard Devil forever. I love this place. It changed my life, and I think it helped change my nephew’s life and helped change other student athletes. That’s what Sun Devil Nation has done for me. I’ll always be around. On bye weeks, I’ll be on campus. This is my home. It’s my permanent home. I bleed maroon and gold, so you’ll always see me on the sidelines, in the weight room, or on campus.
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I was completely moved by some of Robert’s stories that didn’t make it into this article. Fans need to know that there are more gentlemen in the program like this. It only strengthens Sun Devil Nation and make us more proud to be part of the ASU community.
Rob Nelson Jr is a Die Hard Devil. Are you? Prove it.
Side note: That high school kid who holds Rob as his favorite Sun Devil is my nephew. Rob made a surprise visit for his birthday party to give advice and guidance about life and working to accomplish his goals. I’m not sure they ever even mentioned football over the course of a great conversation.
Follow Robert Nelson Jr. on Twitter (@nelson_isle) and Instagram: nelson_isle.
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