“He just needs somebody to push him,” Nelson said. “He needs that leader and I have to be there for him, since we're out there together.
“His potential is far beyond any potential that I could think of as far as a defensive lineman goes. He has a lot of potential to be able to be one of the greatest to come out of here. He's just a fantastic player.”
Much was made of the disappointing play of the Sooners' linebackers last year, as they struggled against mobile quarterbacks. Late in the season, OU's linebackers barely saw the field as Sooners coaches worked to find a defense that could slow down high-powered spread attacks.
“Coach (Tim) Kish wanted us to be the leaders and he felt like we weren't the leaders last year,” Nelson said. “He felt like we had no leadership whatsoever on the defense last year and said it starts with the linebackers. I feel like we have to prove something.”
The Sooners always had two linebackers on the field Saturday.
Nelson said the group is turning a corner as they get more comfortable with the defensive system of Mike Stoops and Kish in their second year.
“We're becoming more instinctive and instead of being more robotic,” Nelson said. “We're starting to see the ball and we're starting to run to the ball.”