Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jesuit's Anthony 'Hound Dog' Nelson always on the hunt for quarterbacks

Jesuit junior defensive lineman Anthony Nelson (Courtesy of Jesuit)

Jesuit junior defensive lineman Anthony Nelson (Courtesy of Jesuit)

Picture a typical summer afternoon in Florida, sun blazing on a shadeless field. Then picture Jesuit junior defensive lineman Anthony Nelson working out on a side field at the school while most of his teammates have long ago escaped the heat.

Nelson practices his moves against offensive linemen Jake Moore and Bradley Haines. No football. No quarterback to tackle. No fans. No coaches. Just Nelson practicing his takeoff from a three-point stance. One after the other after the other.

"It was on the grass field next to the stadium," Nelson said. "I would work on getting off the ball. If I can get past the lineman when the ball is snapped then there is nothing they can do."

Nelson, who is 6 feet 1, 215 pounds, is slightly undersized for a typical defensive lineman. But that hasn't been much of a detriment. He leads the team with 13 sacks and also has 21 quarterback hurries, both team highs.

As a sophomore he showed signs of what was to come this season. Despite being a reserve, he still had eight sacks.

"His speed is his biggest attribute," coach Matt Thompson said. "And he just refuses to get beat. He'll do anything he can to get to the quarterback, and he's not going to quit. His nickname is 'Hound Dog,' because he's just a dog. If a coach could harness what he has and teach it to the other players, that would be something."

Nelson played junior varsity as a freshman and could only watch as the varsity played on Friday nights. When he finally made the varsity as a sophomore, he decided that he wanted to play a different position. He was an interior lineman for much of his youth, but he wanted to play on the end so he could sack quarterbacks. So when coaches asked him what position he played, he told them defensive end.

"When I played in Little League I was kind of a chubby kid and I played on the offensive and defensive lines," Nelson said. "I always wanted to play out on the defensive end, so I told the coaches I was a defensive end. I just figured I could play there."

He has certainly proven he can.

Nelson is one of the top tacklers on a team that allows fewer than nine points per game. And while he leads the Tigers in sacks, he is far from the only one getting to the quarterback. Jesuit (11-0) has 40 sacks this season. If teams focus on Nelson, then players like Dalton Garrett and A.J. Pinion can harass the quarterback. Each has five sacks.

But it is Nelson who tends to find himself in an opponent's backfield first. It's partly because of all the work he puts in during the offseason. And it's partly because he spends the entire game trying to figure out his opponent.

"There's a lot that goes on in the trenches," Nelson said. "I'm always trying to outthink the offensive lineman. I might shift into a different gap or come at him at a different angle. But the biggest thing I'm trying to do is get off the ball as quickly as I can."


Region finals

Games 7:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is $8.

Class 7A

East Lake at Venice

Viera at Plant

Class 5A

Green Cove Springs Clay at River Ridge

Immokalee at Jesuit

State semifinals

Games at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is $9.

Class 3A

Berkeley Prep at Jacksonville Trinity Christian

Class 2A

Northside Christian at Hialeah Champagnat

Jesuit's Anthony 'Hound Dog' Nelson always on the hunt for quarterbacks 11/22/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 12:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'


    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.