Nels graduated from Waycross High School in 1967. He left a legacy as one of the greatest defensive players in Bulldog history. His efforts epitomized excellence, toughness, dedication, and his love for the game.
Although a lightweight at middle guard and linebacker he was the scourge of opposing teams because of his speed, agility, and fierce determination to shed blockers and punish ball carriers.
After high school Nels went on to Livingston College (now the University of West Alabama) on a football scholarship. He excelled at middle linebacker and became the first football player from that college to be named to the Little All-America Team. He was permanent defensive captain of the 1971 team which won the National NAIA Championship. The Most Valuable Player Trophy for the championship game was presented to him after he made an astounding 22 tackles in that contest. At the time he held the school record for the longest return of an interception at 100 yards.
After a renowned college career, Nels played professional football with the Toronto Argonaunts.