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Florida wide receiver David Nelson wants to help people in need

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by Jeremy Fowler, Orlando Sentinel

davidnelsonGAINESVILLE — Florida Gators wide receiver David Nelson has preached in three jails in North Florida. He’s visited numerous charities, encouraged teammates to stay out of trouble and even impressed the University Athletic Association for being a stand-up guy.

Nelson hardly gets attention for his work. That brand of national praise starts and ends with quarterback Tim Tebow, whose otherworldly star comes prepackaged with a John 3:16 ribbon and a Superman stick-on tattoo.

But Nelson doesn’t mind playing in the background because he’s not trying to emulate Tebow.

He just really wants to make a difference.

“[Tebow] does work that, because of his platform, is high-profile, which is great,” Nelson said. “But there are other guys behind the scenes that are doing things.”

That’s why Nelson sent an open letter to the media spreading the word about last month’s Gators Charity Challenge, an event he helped plan.

Players worked out on the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium field in an effort to raise money and awareness for numerous charities. The event raised more than $10,000.

“The platform that we’re in, we have an obligation to help these people in need,” Nelson said. “I don’t see why we can’t use what we’ve done to help other people. … We go through football practice or class and we think we have it bad.”

Nelson enters his senior season vying for a starting job after catching the game-clinching touchdown in last year’s national title game against Oklahoma.

He’s also trying to catch teammates in need of guidance. While planning the charity, Nelson said he helped strength coach Mickey Marotti target 30 players who might benefit from the perspective charities provide — not necessarily troublemakers, but players who need involvement.

Every player on the roster was required to attend at least one hospital or charity headquarters. Nelson visited eight.

Other co-captains of the charity included teammates Joey Sorrentino, Cade Holliday, Jermaine Cunningham, Lorenzo Edwards and Dorian Munroe.

“I can’t tell you how many guys after hospital visits said they were truly affected,” Nelson said.

As fellow Christians, Nelson and Tebow have fostered a strong relationship in the last year — especially when Nelson started to get more playing time. Nelson caught nine passes his first two seasons but 12 last year, five for touchdowns.

Nelson has visited three jails with Tebow and served as the opening act for the Heisman Trophy-winner’s main event. Both conveyed a biblical message to prisoners.

Nelson said he’s encouraged teammates to be cautious when visiting clubs and bars or parties in Gainesville. Florida looks to avoid more off-field problems after at least 25 reported arrests in the Urban Meyer era.


Written by Symphony

August 10, 2009 at 5:44 pm

One Response

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  1. I, my patner and our eight months old prety girl are finding things very difficult as is sometimes no food to survive on so I just want to know if we can get any help. Thanx!

    Richard Agyenim-Boateng

    September 4, 2009 at 5:17 am

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