b Stoops said the sophomore from Dallas Skyline had as good a spring as anyone on the roster, which is why defensive coordinator Brent Venables was trying to find Nelson a position.
“What we're looking for more than anything is to find ways to get players on the field that have shown the knack the last year for making plays, instinctive guys,” Venables said Saturday at Media Day. “It's a challenge to find ways to fit them on the field.”
That's no longer an issue. Nelson will fill in for Lewis, who has been a huge Nelson fan since he arrived on campus.
“You better look out for that guy,” Lewis said last season. “He's going to be better than I was.”
At Big 12 Media Day in Dallas, Lewis compared Nelson's ball-hawking skills to Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu.
“He has tremendous instincts,” Lewis said. “His greatest asset is finding the ball. He's young. He's hungry. We need to get him on the field any way we can.”
Ironically, his spot on the field is Lewis' position.
Nelson's game might resemble Polamalu's relentless pursuit. But their personalities and hair styles are distinct opposites.
Polamalu is brash, outspoken. Nelson has a quiet confidence.
Nelson's hair is closely shaved. Polamalu's billowing curly locks go halfway down his back, obscuring the name on his jersey.
If he's going to be compared to Polamalu, maybe Nelson needs to grow his hair out.
“I'll work on that,” Nelson said, smiling.
His immediate concern is filling in for his mentor. The position might be different than projected when two-a-days began last week, but Nelson has gained confidence.
“I believe in myself and I believe in the players around me. That helps a lot,” Nelson said. “I'm just trying to work hard, stay focused and stay humble.”
How will OU's defense change without Lewis?
Analysis: Lewis injured
Chat Recap: Mike Baldwin