Hallsville’s Justice Nelson is going into the season with a new home. The senior is still a Bobcat but in the offseason, he made the move from linebacker to defensive line.
“It was about a month before spring ball last year and coach (Josh) Rankin, our defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, walked up to me, I worked with him last year with the linebackers, and he was like, ‘The way it’s working out, you gained a good bit of weight and you’re pretty strong, I’d like to see how you do at D-end.’ I had played D-end back in middle school but I had mixed feelings about it.
“The main thing I was concerned about was knowing what to do, being able to accomplish what I needed to, but during the spring, we had a good coaches who worked with me.”
“We’re trying to get more speed on the field so by moving him there, we could put a younger kid at linebacker and that gives us speed at end and linebacker,” Hallsville athletic director and head football coach Joe Drennon said.
The idea of being a senior has sunk in with Nelson who added he hopes to go out with a bang in his final year of playing high school football.
“I’ve always been motivated to do my best. I don’t like to come up short. I don’t like to lose. So that’s always been a big thing for me but yeah, senior year, my last hurrah I guess, I feel like I pushed myself a lot over the summer and over the last two years.”
Nelson likes his team’s chances of having a successful 2019 season.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of improvements all over the offense. Our defense is looking to be pretty good but we’ll have to see on game day.”
The Bobcats’ first game day is today and they’re set to open the season on the road against Terrell.
“Last year, the first three games we had, our pre-district games, we beat Terrell for the first time in a while,” Nelson recalls. “We beat Kilgore for the first time in 12 years and then we played Bullard and we beat them 60-something to 14 I think and we got game of the week Friday Night Under the Lights and that was a fun experience.”
Playing football for the Bobcats has taught Nelson important lessons.
“If you’re putting in the work, coach will notice,” he said.
“In my first few years of actually playing for school, freshman year, I felt that I wasn’t getting noticed and that motivated me to actually start showing up, putting in even more effort than I was already giving and they did notice me and things just started to work out.”
“Justice is a leader by example because he works really hard,” Drennon added. “We changed him from linebacker to D-end this year and he accepted that real well and he had a really good spring and he’s done a good job for us this fall. Like I said, I think he’s just a leader by example more than anything.”
Nelson will look to help lead his Bobcats to a victory tonight when they take on the Tigers at 7:30 p.m.