Jack Nelson is pictured with Byron athletic director Kerry Linbo (back row far left), sister Emma (back row second from left) parents Gail and Scott Nelson (back row, third and forth from left) and head coach John Austinson (front row, far right). Photo by Jeanne Kuhlmann
By David Richards
For three years as starting quarterback for the Byron High School football team, Jack Nelson found success both with his arms and his legs.
Over his career, he racked up roughly 5,000 yards, 3,800 through the air and 1,200 on the ground.
On Feb. 6, Nelson found success again, this time not with the use of a football, but with the use of a pen.
The Byron senior, who is also an accomplished basketball and baseball player, signed his letter of intent to play quarterback for Division II Winona State this fall.
"I'm really excited," Nelson said. "I just felt right when I went there for my visit."
With the Warriors returning a seasoned senior quarterback for the 2013-2014 school year, Nelson said he plans to redshirt his first season, giving him four years to play after that.
Nelson also considered playing football for Augustana in South Dakota and basketball at Gustavus Adolphus.
"With Winona, it won't be a hardship for my parents to come watch games," he said.
Nelson scored 50 touchdowns in his career, throwing for 35 and running for 15.
"I'm very proud of him," Byron head coach John Austinson said. "It's an amazing accomplishment. The hard work is starting to pay off for him. I really think after his redshirt year, he's going to contend for the starting job."
While his college choice has been made, Nelson's high school athletic career is far from over. Byron's basketball team has won 17 straight games as of this writing, and aims for a deep run in the playoffs. There's also baseball in the fall, where Nelson plays shortstop.
"I'm excited for him," head basketball coach Kerry Linbo said, about the signing. "If Jack puts his mind to it, I think he could have a great career there."
Austinson said playing football in college is quite different than playing in high school.
"It's going to be another level of intensity and hard work, but the base he has from high school will give him a good foundation," Austinson said.
"The timing is quicker. The athletes are bigger and stronger. It's different."
As the Bears quarterback, Nelson frustrated opposing offenses with his ability to run as well as to throw.
"His biggest strength at quarterback is to move around the pocket, keep looking down field and to make a play either running or passing," Austinson said.