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What's BYU QB Riley Nelson been up to this summer?

Published July 18, 2012 10:28 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

BYU quarterback Riley Nelson was added to another preseason Watch List on Wednesday morning, the 2012 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award Watch List. Earlier this month, Nelson made the Maxwell Award Watch List for the nation's most outstanding player. Nelson helped BYU go 6-1 in his seven starts last season, throwing for 1,717 yards and 19 touchdowns. He rushed for 392 yards and a TD. BYU quarterbacks have won the O'Brien Award four times, more than any other school in the country. Jim McMahon (1981), Steve Young (1983), Ty Detmer (1990 and 1991) won the award. BYU will face just one quarterback this year who is on the Watch List for the O'Brien: Washington State QB Jeff Tuel (in the opener). Tuesday night, Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) announced their 117 nominees for the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. BYU junior running back Michael Alisa made the list. The native of Laie, Hawaii, ran for 455 yards on 85 carries last year. Nelson was BYU's nominee for the Good Works Team in 2010. Two weeks from today, BYU football players will report for fall camp. The first practice is Thursday, Aug. 2. That means I've got two weeks left to give you more comments and interviews I collected at June's football media day. Here's more from Nelson, kind of the best stuff from a 30-minute discussion: On how the summer has gone for BYU players:"It was kind of fast and furious going all the way back to January. We played on Dec. 30 and were back in school on the second of January. So it was a fast and furious turnaround. It felt like our bodies never got all the way recovered. So we kind of took the month of April off; obviously guys were still in school, getting finals done and stuff like that. But once we all congregated back, maybe the first or second week of May, it has been a fantastic summer as far as I am concerned. It is getting to the point where, I feel like in the past I had to push guys and get them excited, I feel like my role is switching to pulling in the reins. Alright guys, hold up. Hold it in. It is a long summer, you don't want to get burned out. My biggest worry, and it is a good worry to have, is guys getting burned out from doing too much. Guys are working out in the morning, watching film all afternoon, then going out and getting in a second workout. Because I have been that guy, and I have experienced burnout a little bit. I feel like I have a pretty insatiable appetite for football, and that's even happened for me. Especially these young guys, I feel like I can provide a lot of fire, so guys are putting in a lot more. Guys are getting here earlier, staying later. I know that's the same old song. You here that every summer, but I feel like it is different. But at the end of the day, you can have great summers and you can talk all you want, if you don't go out there on a Saturday and compete, it doesn't matter. I am excited for our summer work, but I am more excited for the season to get going."Nelson on whether he's getting some time away from football and school this summer: "I will say this: I am taking full advantage of my summer, both the training aspect but also clearing my head. Because I am one who tends to get pretty tunnel-visioned. And in the past that has kind of hurt me. So I am having a little bit of fun in the summer. But whenever that [camp starting] date comes, I will be ready to go." Nelson specifically on what he has done in the summer: "I love softball, so I have been playing in a bunch of city leagues, intramurals, stuff like that, mostly with my guys. James Lark plays a lot, Cody Hoffman, Taysom Hill, we play on these little rec league teams. I love boating. I have been going up to Logan with my dad and my two little brothers. My middle brother, D.J., is going on his mission on Aug. 8. So I have been trying to spend a lot of time with him before he takes off for a couple of years to Puerto Rico. Just enjoying the summer: trying to get up in the mountains, on the lake, all of that." Nelson on what he has changed in his diet, etc.: "My diet is a lot more specific, where before I was just following general guidelines. It is a lot more dialed in as far as what specific meals to eat at what time of day. Before, I was just trying to eat good foods and figure it out on my own. Now it is a lot more structured, a lot more guided. And then, the biggest thing I would say I have learned, as far as training and weightlifting, is that active recovery is important. Ice bathing, all those things, the importance of that. Those have been the two main focuses, outside of the mental parts of the game." Nelson on whether he knew he would represent the program in this way when he transferred from USU: "I had the opportunity to do that a lot at Utah State, even before my mission. And it was even worse, because I knew even less, and was even a bigger knucklehead, but it started off with me just being a yes man. ... I was kind of the one if everyone else fell through. But it has turned into an aspect of part of the job description that I have embraced. Again, it is not me. It is the position that people respect. It is the position that people are interested in. If I can provide a little bit of help, it makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable."Nelson on BYU senior QBs having great years: "As I look at back at those years with senior quarterbacks, they also had great teams. And that's what I am most encouraged about. I feel like we have a nasty defense. It is going to be so fun to play and win as a team. Obviously, at BYU the quarterback is a very visible position. And to be honest with you, the quarterback does play a very vital role in the success of the team. So I don't shy away from that, nor do I put undue pressure on myself because of that. Because I look at the position of quarterback as a distributor. The better and more effectively you can distribute the ball, the better your team is going to be.Nelson on whether he embraces the role as the leader: "I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. And I know one of my strengths is being able to encourage guys and get them excited about playing football, and about the opportunity we have to play college football. What really hits home to me is that this is my last opportunity to play college football. It is funny, these incoming freshmen, when I played my first college game back in 2006, they were in seventh grade. I have been in this game a long time. The sand in the hourglass is getting really, really small and so I want to do all I can to take full advantage of it. And part of that is assuming that leadership role, not being scared of it, and embracing it. I mean, it is our collective season, but selfishly it is my last season, and I will be darned if I let guys slack, or let guys take it off. So that's kind of where my head's at." On embracing the mantle of being the BYU quarterback: "Man, I just love playing the games on Saturdays. All the other stuff, I realize comes along with the territory. You can shy away from it, and stuff like that. But the way I look at it, nobody's got a gun to my head. If I wanted it to stop, I could go in to coach Mendenhall and tell him it is not for me. I take all that other stuff with a grain of salt, realizing that it is a necessary evil. All that other stuff you got to do, the photo shoots and the commercial shoots and the interviews and the autograph signings and the speaking engagements, I do enjoy those, because it is very flattering that people care about you. But it doesn't hold a lot of weight as far as importance to me. I realize they are byproducts of being the quarterback. But people love this program, they love BYU football, and we owe it to them to put the best product on the field, and that's what I am interested in — going out and giving them everything we got on Saturday. And we want to leave no regrets, man. That's been my biggest sentiment throughout the season, is leaving no stone unturned, and competing every day. There are things you can't control, but if you can control everything you can control, most likely it is going to work out for you." On how much he's thinking about staying healthy this season: "I am doing everything I can to get my flexibility, my function of movement, my strength, my speed, everything right as far as that goes. So I am taking care of my fitness, my body, to the highest level. I have learned a lot about my body and also about how to train, how to eat, how to sleep, how to recover. Now, actual play, a lot of people have asked me about my actual play and protecting myself. There is no way I am going to change that. If I change now, it will be disastrous for both me and the team. Once the lights come on on Saturdays, they kick that ball off, it is going to be same old me. But I have taken extra measures to ensure that I am in the healthiest, most fit condition of my life going into the season. So hopefully that translates into increased durability and increased health."