NORMAN — Corey Nelson stood alone on the stage, his emotions flowing and his rhymes going.
The Oklahoma linebacker is a poetry man. He fell in love with it back in high school at Dallas Skyline. He took poetry classes. He wrote his own verse. He even performed some of it.
“I just love the emotions you can put into poetry,” he said. “Just everything that's been bottled up in my head, I just put it out on paper with emotion. My own thoughts. My own words.”
Imagine the words he'll one day write about this point in his career. Less than two weeks ago, he was part of a defensive experiment, a talented and flexible piece of the puzzle that Sooner coaches were trying to figure out where he fit best. Nickelback? Linebacker? A hybrid of the two?
But one cracked big-toe bone later, Nelson is not only the starting weakside linebacker but also the replacement for the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
“It's been a lot of emotion,” Nelson said of recent days. “When I finally get time, I believe I'm going to write down something that's … really, really strong and powerful.”
Filling the void left by Travis Lewis is only the latest chapter in Nelson's story.
Nelson is the second of Cedric and Camisha Nelson's three sons. Brother Cedric is only a year older; brother Cortland is only a year younger. Even though the brothers are tight, Corey is not like the others. Neither Cedric nor Cortland played sports beyond elementary school.
“They didn't like it at all,” Nelson said of his brothers. “They were like, ‘It's too physical.'
“Both of those guys are band freaks. They love music. They love to listen to music. They love to play music.”
That gene didn't bypass middle brother completely; Nelson sings bass in the choir at church.
“I'm the only athlete in the family,” Nelson said.
And what an athlete he is. He became one of the top recruits in the high school hotbed of Texas, which means he was one of the best in the country, and when the Dallas Skyline star committed to Texas A&M in the fall of 2009, he became a headliner in the Aggies' recruiting class.