Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 27, 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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50 NOV. 27, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH IN THE PROS BY TODD D. BURLAGE A ll the way back to middle school when beefy Quenton Nelson — re- markably, a cross country athlete at the time — was asked to lose about 20 pounds every year just to be eligible to play Pop Warner football, his determi- nation was already on full display. No grade-school player wants to cut weight every year just for the oppor- tunity to play a sport, but as Nelson does in every facet of his life, he readily embraced the sacrifices and responsi- bilities necessary to become the best at what's next. That all-work, no-excuses mind- set — along with an embarrassment of physical gifts — eventually turned Nelson into a five-star recruit out of Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic High School in 2014. Four years later, he became only the 29th unanimous All-American in Notre Dame history and a first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2018 NFL Draft. As the No. 6 overall selection, Nelson became the first offensive guard to be drafted in the top 10 since North Caro- lina's Johnathan Cooper (No. 7 over- all) and Alabama's Chance Warmack (No. 10 overall) in 2013. Nelson — a 2017 Outland Trophy fi- nalist and only the second Irish guard in Notre Dame history to be drafted in the top 10 (Bill Fischer went No. 10 in 1949) — flirted with becoming the first guard to become a top-five draftee since Bill Fralic out of Pittsburgh was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 2 overall pick in 1985. Nelson's former Irish teammate Mike McGlinchey, an offensive tackle, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers at No. 9 in 2018, three picks after Nelson in the same draft. While still playing alongside Nelson at Notre Dame, McGlinchey was asked to explain what made his Irish team- mate so special. "When you have his [dedication to improve] and the desire that Q has to be as great as he wants to be, the sky is the limit for him," McGlinchey said. "He In the first four games after All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson returned from injured reserve, the Colts went 3-1 and averaged 154.5 rushing yards per game. PHOTO COURTESY INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 'Big Q' Is Every Bit As Good As Advertised

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