“Corey is a captain and a guy right there in the middle of the heart of the defense so it’s hard to minimize that,” Stoops said. “He was having a great, great year and it’s just unfortunate for him. You hate to see that happen to a guy in his senior year.”
While Nelson’s on-the-field leadership will be missed, Stoops said he expects Nelson to still have an impact every game.
"Corey has been a great leader all year,” Stoops explained. “He can continue to, demanding the players in practice perform and focus the way they have."
Nelson registered 27 tackles (13 solo), along with a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown, four pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and a sack through the first five games of the year. Nelson was voted by his teammates as a defensive captain in 2013 along with senior cornerback Aaron Colvin, who knows this injury won’t keep his teammate from continuing to impact the team.
“Corey, he’s a great player, he’s a great leader and a great individual for this team,” Colvin said. "Although he won’t be contributing on the field, he will still be around. I know his leadership will still be there but at the same time you can’t really hide his talent and his passion that he brings to the defense. I know I will have to step up and do a little extra and others realize that, as well.”
Fellow senior co-captain Trey Millard agreed.
“We are going to miss him out on the field, but he will be in the locker room and he is just as important as an emotional leader to this defense and the entire team,” Millard said.
But perhaps no two players will benefit more from Nelson being on the practice field this week than fellow linebackers Aaron Franklin and Dominique Alexander, the top candidates to fill his vacancy.
“He was back there helping us out and teaching us,” Franklin said of Nelson at practice on Monday. “He’s still around and he’s just helping us and giving us what he knows and giving us tips. So he’s still around and in good spirits. It’s great having him around.”
According to Alexander, Nelson has been a mentor to him since he stepped on campus, and continues to push the true freshman from Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School to be his very best.
“He has been like my big brother,” Alexander said. “As soon as I got here he took care of me. He’s just telling me I have to step up in a significant way and this is Texas week and I can’t let the crowd get to me.
"He’s keeping me in the film room with him extra time. I have to be up here at seven in the morning to meet with him and watch film. He’s making sure that I’m really going to be on my stuff and I’m not going to have any busts. He’s going to make sure I’m the best player I can be.”
Are you on Google+? Add +Oklahoma Sooners Blog to your Circle!
/// SoonerSports PR