Along with many across America April 26-28, 2018, Dakota Nelson's eyes, ears, and cell phone were checking in and sometimes glued to the information coming from AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
Yes, Nelson is a dyed in the wool pro football fan … like many millions. The 2018 National Football League draft offered something more for the Manchester University senior.
Something that began on the quiet practice areas at Akron and Ball State Universities in the months before during pro day tryouts and workouts … an opportunity. All accounts from the Spartans' coaching staff and others in attendance note that the Black and Gold standout opened eyes, but the Fairland, Ind., native still feels there are things to prove.
"I think too many people are fixated into what you have on paper such as what you run a 40 in, what you bench and squat and so on," he admitted. "To me, there doesn't seem to be enough attention on what you do on the field. I've seen guys in pro days that can lift a lot and can run and jump amazing times and distances … they aren't football players though. They're freak athletes.
"I've heard it (all my life)," he added. "You can't bench this or squad that, your 40 time isn't where it should be … Look what I did on the field and my heart for the game. If it doesn't happen this year, the journey is just beginning. I felt excellent about what I did (at Akron and Ball State). I represented myself and the university … catching every ball and going through the workouts as hard as I could. There are no regrets."
The adage of patience being a virtue is precisely the mindset that the Spartans' all-time touchdown producer, multi-time all-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honoree and former NCAA Division III national statistical leader has.
"It's just a waiting game now," Nelson mused. "I'm realistic that my name won't be called (in the NFL draft). It's the days after I'm looking forward to – a call for rookie camp, a practice squad … any chance. This time next year, if I'm not on a team, I'm going to go back to as many pro days as I can and retake the shot. You see that at the pro days and tryouts you go to … there are guys that have been coming back and keep doing so. They have the drive and spirit to keep playing a game they love … like me. All in all, I'm thankful and blessed enough to even get this far in my career … that, in itself, is an achievement."
Still moving towards a possibility of putting on the pads, lacing up the shoes and being on the gridiron that's led Dakota Nelson and therein Manchester University athletics towards success.