But more than that, Nelson finally felt comfortable in his role on the Oklahoma defense after a season of uncertainty.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops experimented with schemes designed to stop high-powered, spread offenses late in the 2012 season, but those sets often included just one — and, many times, zero — linebackers.
Middle linebacker Tom Wort left Oklahoma with a year of eligibility remaining, largely because of frustration stemming from those experiments.
Nelson has admitted that he considered following Wort out the door, but was reassured by OU coaches that he'd return to playing a prominent role in the defense as a senior.
Now, the once-frustrated player who thought about skipping his fourth year at Oklahoma is praying the NCAA grants him a fifth.
But even if Nelson never plays another down on Owen Field, at least he's going out in full pads.
“I feel like I have a strong case,” Nelson said. “If it's in God's will, it'll happen. If I don't get it, then it's still in God's will and I'll have to move on.”