At 19 years old, Tony Nelson has accomplished plenty.
He won back-to-back Class A shot put titles, scored more than 1,000 points on the basketball court and last year became the first student-athlete from Tracy-Milroy-Balaton to earn a full scholarship to play football at the University of Minnesota.
But there are some things this well-accomplished, small-town, perpetually humble big man has never experienced. If flying on a plane and traveling to New York were on his bucket list, consider that list a bit shorter now.
Nelson, a Gopher freshman, traveled to the Big Apple last week as the Gophers took on Syracuse in the Bad Boy Motors Pinstripe Bowl, which was played at the new Yankee Stadium. But as it turns out, this trip was more about soaking in new experiences than it was a football game (which the Gophers won).
“It was awesome,” Nelson said. “I don’t know how to describe … it was surreal.”
Nelson, who redshirted this year, made a name for himself as a Panther and is continuing to work on doing the same on the football field in the maroon and gold. Last week, however, he was more of a tourist than an offensive lineman.
“It was like, ‘We’re playing football here?’” Nelson said. “It was cool, it was crazy. I’ve never flown before.”
Nelson’s first airline flight was anything but ordinary. Having not flown before, he had nothing to compare his sojourn to, but needless to say, the Gopher players and coaches didn’t fly commercial.
See more in this week’s paper!