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BYU's Riley Nelson Is One Tough Guy

PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 1:  Large signs hang outside Lavell Edwards Stadium where it was announced that BYU football will become independent in 2011 separating from the Mountain West Conference, September 1, 2010 in Provo, Utah. The remaining BYU sports will become affiliated with the West Coast Conference in 2011. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
George Frey/Getty Images
Brett RichinsSenior Analyst ISeptember 22, 2010

We all knew Riley Nelson was a tough and gritty player, but we really didn’t know just how tough until Tuesday.

Commenting on the news that Nelson’s year is over because of season-ending shoulder surgery, Bronco Mendenhall revealed that Riley initially injured the non-throwing shoulder back in fall camp.

That means he has been making those tough runs and delivering blows in the process with an injured shoulder for the first three games of the season. He furthered damaged the shoulder on a hit in the first quarter of the Florida State game.

You can question his arm and his abilities as a prototypical BYU quarterback, but you can never question his guts. The fact that he has been playing as physical as he has with that injury speaks volumes about Nelson as a man and a competitor.

BYU quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman also indicated that the shoulder wasn’t the only injury that the junior has been dealing with this season.

Tuesday’s news gives you some insight into why the Cougar coaches have been so enamored with Riley despite his limitations as a passer.

It’s quite likely that Nelson was going to be relegated to a situational role either this week or in the near future, making way for the freshman Jake Heaps.

His injury officially ends the quarterback carousel that drew the ire of many Cougar fans and media members. Riley finishes his season having completed 20-of-40 passes for 205 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 148 yards and a score.

Some are speculating that this could be the end of Nelson’s career as a quarterback at BYU; that perhaps he may switch positions when he returns to action next year. If the preliminary reports are accurate Riley could be sidelined for several months, which means that he could be in jeopardy of missing or being limited in spring ball next March. If that happens he could end up well behind in the QB pecking order.

Only time will tell as to what Nelson’s future holds. Here’s wishing and hoping for a full and quick recovery for one tough guy.

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