CBS/MaxPreps recruiting analyst Tom Lemming has named Philip Nelson
of Mankato West (Minn.)
as his National Sleeper of the Year.
He said the award is based on "the best player that nobody talks about, someone who's rarely seen (by college football recruiters)."
Part of the reason he didn't have many scholarship offers is that Nelson made a commitment to the University of Minnesota last February and plans to enroll there in January.
Coach Mark Esch acknowledged, "He didn't get a ton of offers like a lot of kids, but he's as good as most quarterbacks in the nation. I watched the state tournament last week and didn't see anybody as good. He has a really quick release and strong arm. He's football-smart and a hard worker. He's an extremely athletic kid who runs (40 yards) in the 4.5s and he has next-level size."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback told MaxPreps that as a youngster his dream was to attend for the University of Wisconsin where his father, Pat Nelson, played fullback. However, after moving to Minnesota as a fifth grader, he grew to love the Minnesota program.
He noted, "Their coaching staff was very honest with me. They really blew me away and I loved it (the program). They've been together for a long time. They are very stable and that's very appealing to me."
The award surprised him.
"It's a pretty big honor," he said. "It just goes to show that hard work pays off. I'm really thankful to be in a great program with great teammates."
Nelson led West to an 11-1 record this year and a berth in the Class 4A state semifinals
. He completed 174 of 262 passes (66 percent) for 2,784 yards and 35 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He also ran 145 times for 1,241 yards and 20 touchdowns. During his career he passed for 7,561 yards and 94 touchdowns, while running for 2,469 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Lemming also announced
of Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
as National Offensive Player of the Year, Noah Spence
of Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.)
as National Defensive Player of the Year and Mack Brown of Texas as the National College Head Coach of the Year.
Green-Beckham, a 6-6, 225-pound wide receiver, caught 119 passes for 2,233 yards (18.8 average) and 24 touchdowns. He averaged 171.8 yards per game and wound up setting a national record for career receiving yards
Spence, who is a 6-4, 245-pound two-way end, has made 85 tackles (22 for losses), 10.5 sacks and blocked three punts despite being double- and triple-teamed throughout the year. His team is 11-2 and will play in the Class AAA state quarterfinals
* Lemming selects the 100 players for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which will be held on Jan. 3 at Chase Field in Phoenix and televised by the CBS Sports Network. On Jan. 2, 300 of the nation's top underclassmen will participate in the Proving Ground combine at Chase Field. He revealed that he saves 40 positions to be filled with late-bloomers who have outstanding senior years.
"We want to emphasize and reward production," he explained.
Nelson is one of those players. In that same category he mentioned such other players as wide receiver Gehrig Dieter
of Washington (South Bend, Ind.)
, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp
of Montini (Lombard, Ill.)
and quarterback Wes Lunt
of Rochester (Rochester, Ill.)
Lemming on Dieter: "They double- and triple-teamed him and he had a career year despite being targeted after his fourth game,"
"Nebraska got a go-to receiver," he said of Westerkamp, who is his Illinois Player of the Year. "He has good size and great hands and great speed after the catch."
"Oklahoma State got them a legitimate All-American," Lemming said of the 6-5 Lunt, who threw for more than 500 yards as Rochester won its second consecutive Class 4A state title.
* Commenting on the recent turnover in the college coaching ranks, Lemming believes former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is "the best available coach out there. He's got a tremendous offensive mind and can turn a program around right away." Washington State must have felt the same, as the Cougars agreed with Leach Wednesday.
* Lemming's weekly TV show will air from St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.)
on Friday (7 p.m., EST) on the CBS Sports Network. His special guest will be Garrett Shea, who runs the USA vs. the World game, which will be held in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 1. Other guests will be St. Peter's Prep coach Rich Hansen, who will give viewers a tour, along with two of his players, Brandon Napoleon
and D.J. Singleton