The Mustang secondary received a boost yesterday when former Illinois safety Patrick Nelson announced his intention to transfer to the Hilltop for the 2018 season. Nelson will have two years of eligibility left for the Ponies.
The Chicago native is 6-2, 210 pounds and is a true box safety. Nelson started fourteen games for the Illini finishing fourth on the team in tackles during the 2017 season. He was the third leading tackler in 2016. Apparently, Lovie Smith's desire to play younger players was the impetus for Nelson leaving. He announced his intention to transfer in December.
On the little film we saw, Nelson is a gifted open field tackler, a skill that is useful in today's spread-centric game. He's not particularly explosive or an instinctual cover player. His size is a bonus as he gets into the box to challenge the run game.
SMU opens the 2018 season September 1st at North Texas.