Any time that a school can reel in a Top 200 national recruit it is a big deal, especially so when said school ventures out of its historic recruiting base to do so. That is exactly what has happened here as South Carolina has raided Pennsylvania to bag the commitment of St. Joseph’s (Philadelphia, PA) High School class of 2022 prospect Keenan Nelson Jr.
Nelson Jr. is ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 173 player in the class, giving him the 4-star recruit label. He is pegged as the No. 11 safety and as the No. 4 player in Pennsylvania. He picked the Gamecocks over heady recruiting interest from in-state favorites Penn State, along with offers from the lines of Arizona State and Duke.
The 6-foot-1, 200 pounder could find a home at either safety or cornerback for the gamecocks depending on how the coaching staff intends to use him. His loose hips and ability to change direction on a dime scream corner, but his size and plus-level ball skills suggest a future at safety might be the way forward. Either way, Nelson Jr. shows the ability to stay with a wide receiver in and out of breaks and transitions, mainly because of his quick feet and his size that allows him to jam a wideout and take him off of his route before it even begins.
In the video below you can see some of what Nelson Jr. can do. The first play of the video shows it all. He first sticks to his man like glue in the initial phase of a passing play. Seeing the danger he breaks off of his coverage and comes up to truck the pass-catcher – this is the mentality that screams safety – putting in a physically dominant hit that would make a player at any level nervous about crossing the middle into his space.