Rick Nelson will direct the offensive line again in 2013 after helping the Panthers rewrite the record book in recent seasons. Nelson is entering his 24th year as an offensive line coach in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
During the 2012 season, Nelson coached the offensive line to help the Panthers rack up 1,637 yards on the ground and the line only allowed 11 sacks on the season. He coached junior Dan Kruger to a successful season with the junior earning MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors during the season.
In 2011, Nelson and the offensive line won a share of the 16th-MVFC football crown with a 7-1 conference record. The title was the seventh since 2001.
In 2010, the UNI rushing offense ranked No. 9 in the nation and No. 1 in the MVFC. UNI's Tirrell Rennie ranked No. 16 in the nation in rushing, while Carlos Anderson ranked No. 37 in the nation.
In 2009, the Panther offense ranked 10th in the nation in scoring, 13th in total offense and 14th in rushing offense on their way to racking up 417.3 yards per game. UNI also ranked seventh in the nation and first in the MVFC in sacks allowed per game. Offensive tackle Austin Howard was recognized on the AFCA FCS All-American team under Nelson's tutelage and center Austin Steichen was named a second-team All-American by both the Sports Network and the Associated Press.
In 2008, he had a pair of tackles drafted in the National Football League Draft. Chad Rinehart went in the third round to the Washington Redskins, while Brandon Keith was selected in the seventh round by the Arizona Cardinals.
Under Nelson's guidance in 2007 the Panther offensive line cleared the running lanes for Corey Lewis, who set a school record with 1,513 rushing yards, while also picking up blockers and creating throwing lanes for Eric Sanders, who finished second in the balloting for the Walter Payton Award.
Nelson is one of four former Panther players on this year's staff and he was re-hired by UNI in February 2000 after spending 11 years at Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. Nelson was a two-year letterman for UNI as an offensive lineman when he played from 1980-83.
He received his bachelor's degree in 1984 and served as the Panthers' Strength and Conditioning coach and graduate assistant for two years before going to Garden City Community College as offensive coordinator and strength coach. The Bronc Busters placed second in the Jayhawk Conference in 1987 and captured the title in 1988. From Garden City, Nelson moved on to MVFC-foe Missouri State University, serving as offensive line coach from 1989-99. He was head football coach and physical education instructor at Woodward High School in Woodward, Okla., in 1999.
While playing for the Panthers, Nelson was a member of the 1984 and '85 conference championship teams which advanced to the FCS playoffs. At Missouri State, he was a member of a staff that broke 35 offensive records. He coached four Bear offensive linemen who signed with the NFL. Six of his Missouri State players were named all-American, 20 were named all-conference, four were selected Academic All-Americans, and two were named to the MVFC All-Decade Team.
Two of the Missouri State teams won consecutive conference titles and advanced to the FCS playoffs during his tenure.
Nelson has coached nine linemen who have gone on to play in the NFL, 12 all-conference selections and four all-Americans at UNI, including Ben Deike, who was named a first-team College Sports Report.com all-American, second-team by the Associated Press and The Sports Network, in 2003. Luke Stigler was a first-team all-conference pick in 2004. Chad Rinehart was a first-team all-Gateway pick in 2005 and 2006, while Joe Lobdell was an honorable mention all-conference pick in 2005 and earned second team honors in 2006. Brad Harms was an NFL free agent in 2000.
Nelson received UNI's "Oil Can Award" in 1983, given by the coaches to the player showing ability, performance, attitude and leadership. As a prep at Urbandale High School, he was selected to the Iowa High School Boys Athletic Association All-State Football Team, Central Iowa All-Conference, and Urbandale's MVP in 1978.
He and his wife, Jamie, have two children - Nick, 26, and Wes, 22.
The Nelson File Coaching Experience
- 2000-PresentUNIOffensive Line
- 1999Woodward High School (Woodward, OK)Head Coach
- 1989-99Southwest Missouri StateOffensive Line
- 1986-88Garden City Community CollegeOffensive Coord./Strength and Conditioning Coach
- 1984-85UNIGraduate Asst./Strength and Conditioning Coach
- UNI (Physical Education), 1984
- Mid-American Nazarene 1979
- UNI 1980-83
- Three-year letterman
- 1983 Oil Can Award Recipient
- Born: Dec. 5, 1960, in Council Bluffs, Iowa
- Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa
- Family: Wife Jamie, sons Nick, 26; Wes, 22