BYU's Nelson says he needed the surgery, isn't transferring, and is still a QB
BYU quarterback Riley Nelson spoke to several reporters after attending the Cougars' football practice Tuesday night, and in the process cleared up a bunch of rumors that have been flying around since it was announced a week ago that he needed surgery to repair an injured shoulder. First, Nelson acknowledged he originally injured the shoulder in fall camp, but not during that scrimmage at the stadium when he had the green jersey removed and was able to be hit by the defenders. He said the injury came later and he didn't tell coaches about it because he thought he could play through the pain. Second, he said he doesn't plan on transferring away from BYU, and that he does plan to return in time for spring camp and will compete again for the starting quarterback position. "No question," he said. Third, he said despite a few internet rumors floating around out there, he really did need the surgery. He said he was not coerced into having it so it would be easier for coach Bronco Mendenhall to name freshman Jake Heaps the starter for the Nevada game. "There are conspiracy theories, I know," he said with a laugh. "I wish those internet geeks would have felt how my shoulder felt, then tried to play in a Division I football game. There' s no way I could have kept going." Nelson said when he re-injured it again in the Florida State game, there's no way he could have gone on. "Believe me, I needed [surgery]. I couldn't use my right arm at all. I couldn't protect myself, couldn't do what I needed to do to help the team win, bottom line," he said. "And once they saw the MRI, they said you have to get this fixed now you can't delay this any longer." - Some people have suggested that Nelson had the surgery when he did so he wouldn't have to stand on the sidelines Friday and take verbal abuse from USU fans because he transferred from that school to BYU. He said Tuesday that he will be on the sidelines Friday, so there goes that theory. "You know what? I think at this point it is a non-issue," he said. "I don't think too many people will be concentrating on me, because I will have absolutely zero effect on the outcome of the game. I think people care more about who wins the game than an injured player who is on the sideline. So no reservations. I am not worried about it at all." Besides, Nelson said, he can take it. "If it comes, it won't matter that much," he said. "There's not much I can do. And if people want to...if I can take some verbal abuse off the guys who are actually playing the game, so it helps them concentrate at a higher level, great, I played a little bit of a role. But I don't anticipate much. And if it does happen, then you know what, it happens. I'm not worried about it too much." Nelson said his father performed the surgery last Friday in Logan, and he stayed in town Saturday and watched the BYU-Nevada game from his parents' home. He thought freshman Jake Heaps played well. "Of course, that's what we expected. He played well, and we hope that he continues to get better as the season goes on, and the wins will start coming."- Nelson said he has a brother who plays for Utah State sort of. Aggie linebacker Junior Keiaho lived with Nelson's family for two and a half years while attending Logan High. Keiaho was suspended and did not make the trip to San Diego last week due to a violation of team rules, and it is not clear yet whether that suspension has been lifted so he can play against the Cougars. Both players wear No. 13; Nelson said the last he heard was that Keiaho was also battling an injury. "So we are brothers," Nelson said. "There's not much we can do about it...We are both a couple of wounded ducks, and can't really play." Nelson said five of his high school teammates play for the Aggies, and there are still a lot of guys from his freshman class on the team. "A lot of them played as true freshman. Still a lot of friends. With social networking and all that nowadays, it is not that hard [to keep in touch]....I got some friends up there. ...but once the ball is kicked off, it is a battle. Then once that final horn sounds, you are back as friends and you can enjoy it and look at the experience." On the overall experience of returning to Logan this weekend: "I don't really have any emotions about it, haven't thought twice about it. We are in the middle of some adversity right now, so no matter who the opponent is it just happens to be Utah State this week but we need a W. And so hopefully we can come out and play like we know how, play with emotion, play with passion. Because it is going to be a tough environment. I mean, that's one thing I know from growing up in Logan, is that whenever BYU comes to Romney Stadium, it is a big game. It is going to be packed, and the fans are going to be into it, emotional. Hopefully we can play well and execute." On whether he will ask for a medical redshirt to get his junior year back: "That's the silver lining of the whole thing.....it did come at a time when I will get it back....We are pretty confident that I will get it back."