NORMAN — Judging purely from the way Corey Nelson enthusiastically describes his “blessed” life, you’d never believe the former Oklahoma linebacker’s collegiate career ended in tremendous disappointment.
“I’ve just been working hard, staying focused on the task at hand,” Nelson said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman. “Above all else, just living life.”
Nelson said the torn pectoral muscle that prematurely ended his senior season last October has fully healed and that he’ll be a full participant in OU’s Pro Day, scheduled for Wednesday inside the Everest Training Center.
Nelson was having the best season of his career through four games before suffering the season-ending injury in the third quarter of Oklahoma’s 20-17 victory over TCU on Oct. 5. He had recorded 27 tackles and a sack, and returned an interception for a touchdown in the Sooners’ historic victory at Notre Dame.
Before the injury, Nelson had taken freshman linebacker Dominique Alexander under his wing, and he continued mentoring the Tulsa Washington product throughout the season. Alexander started in Nelson’s place the rest of the season, and was ultimately named the Big 12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year.
“I’m very proud of him,” Nelson said. “It’s amazing the growth that he had from the beginning of the season to the end. He stepped up big and did what he had to do. His growth was by far one of the best I’ve seen out of a freshman out there.”
Nelson applied for a medical redshirt with the NCAA that would’ve allowed him to return next season, but was ultimately denied because he’d played too much before his pectoral tear.
“It was actually a good thing,” Nelson said of the denial. “It worked in my favor. I’m glad that happened the way it did. It was all in God’s plan.
“After I found out I didn’t get it, I didn’t even get down about it. I knew whatever happened was out of my hands.”
He described Oklahoma’s Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama as “bittersweet” because he wasn’t able to play, but said he cherished the memory and still enjoyed the 45-31 victory.
Nelson made news in the offseason after his friend, former San Diego State running back Adam Muema, left the NFL Scouting Combine early for religious reasons and went missing. Nelson picked Muema up at a Florida airport after he called to ask for a ride.
Nelson spoke about his relationship with Muema in an interview last month with UT-San Diego, but said Tuesday his agent had advised him not to talk about it anymore publicly.
The former Sooner’s focus right now is on impressing the NFL representatives who will be in Norman for Wednesday’s Pro Day.
He said he hasn’t talked with any NFL people about his pro prospects so far, and that he doesn’t really want to.
“I haven’t heard anything, and in my eyes, that’s a good thing,” Nelson said. “I don’t want to worry about all that; I just want to go out there and do what God gave me the talent to do.”