UConn's Nelson decides to leave hoops for NFL

Updated: April 13, 2006, 7:40 PM ET
Associated Press

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut basketball player Ed Nelson has decided to pursue a career in the National Football League, playing a sport he hasn't competed in since his freshman year of high school.

The 6-foot-8, 265-pound senior power forward plans to work out for NFL teams April 21 on the UConn campus.

"I have gotten great feedback in the last week that I am an individual that NFL teams could and will be very interested in," Nelson said Thursday. "I am anxious for the chance to show scouts next week that I can help their team in the future."

School officials said Nelson played youth football and played one year of high school football before focusing on basketball full-time.

Nelson's agent, Joe Linta, represents dozens of NFL players and coaches, including linemen Will Shields of the Kansas City Chiefs and Matt Birk of the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel.

"I came up to work out Ed with little expectations and came away convinced that he is an NFL prospect at the tight end position," Linta said. "He is very quick, has outstanding hands and great lower body strength."

Nelson, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., played 29 games as a reserve for the UConn basketball team after transferring from Georgia Tech, where he was the ACC rookie of the year in 2001-02. He averaged three points and three rebounds per game at Connecticut.

At St. Thomas Aquinas High School, he averaged 26 points and 11 rebounds in his senior year and led the team to the Class 5A state title. He was named Florida Player of the Year for Class 6A-5A-4A by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

"He clearly has the talent to play basketball at the professional level, but if anyone can make the transition, it's him," UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press