Skip to content

J on Embree would like to rebuild Colorado football to the point where future All-Americans practice with the scout team while redshirting as freshmen.

That’s how loaded the roster was during the program’s glory years under Bill McCartney.

Tad Boyle is already benefiting from some impressive depth during summer practices at the Coors Events Center.

Kevin Nelson, a former player at New Mexico, is the seventh new face on a crowded depth chart. The 6-2 walk-on guard transfers to CU after playing at junior college power Missouri State West Plains last season.

“Kevin is not a typical walk-on,” Boyle said. “He’s a very good player.”

The Buffs’ future appears to be bright with the coaching staff welcoming six impressive freshmen recruits to campus this summer.

Don’t let the lack of a scholarship fool you, Nelson isn’t here just to wave a towel on the end of the bench.

“Being a walk-on you kind of have to stand out if you want to make an impact, as opposed to just a regular scholarship player,” Nelson said. “You have to do everything that coach says and then some more.”

Nelson will be competing for precious minutes in the backcourt with veterans Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Sabatino Chen, as well as true freshmen Eli Stalzer and Xavier Talton.

CU is looking to replace seniors Carlon Brown and Nate Tomlinson from the Pac-12 Tournament championship team. Junior point guard Shannon Sharpe has transferred to Cal Poly Pomona and former walk-on Beau Webb is also no longer in the program.

“That was a big part of coming here is I really felt that I had a chance to play,” Nelson said. “And I’m going to do everything I can to compete for playing time.”

Nelson, who turns 22 on Aug. 11, was injured at New Mexico and redshirted during the 2009-10 season. He attended classes the next year (2010-11) at Missouri State West Plains but did not play basketball.

Currently, Nelson is listed as a junior, but he plans to petition the NCAA hoping to be granted three years of remaining eligibility.

“I think I bring a certain level of knowledge and experience having been in college for three years now,” Nelson said. “I know what to expect, I know how to prepare right, and I can help the younger guys out. At the same time, I still can learn from the older guys, too.”

Nelson grew up in Albuquerque — site of CU’s NCAA Tournament run in March — where he was the 4A player of the year in New Mexico in 2009. His father, Ron, was a star player for the Lobos in the late 1960s and even had a cup of coffee in the ABA.

“Even though he played a while ago, he still knows what he’s talking about,” Nelson said of his dad’s influence. “I’ve learned from him and even though I’ve heard him say things a million times, there’s still valuable information to get.”

In addition to the program’s recent success on the hardwood, Nelson was attracted to CU for the Leeds School of Business.

“The University of Colorado has high academic standards, and Kevin will thrive there,” Missouri State West Plains coach Yancey Walker said after Nelson was honored by the NJCAA for maintaining a grade-point average between 3.80 to 3.99 last year. “We couldn’t be happier for him, but we will miss the example that he set as a gym rat, both on the court and in the weight room.”

Nelson has been taking classes at CU throughout the summer and working out with teammates. He will be going to Europe with the Buffs later this month to play five games against semi-professional teams.

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.