Hillcrest’s Nelson to play for Lewis and Clark College

Ryley Nelson has never been afraid of a little hard work, whether it was on the football field or in the classroom.

The hard work extended to his search for a college to continue his education and playing career.

Turns out, hard work does pay off.

Nelson, who will graduate with high honors from Hillcrest High School on Wednesday, also recently earned a spot on the football team at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. Nelson, who will study pre-med at Lewis and Clark, said he will play tailback and special teams for the NAIA school.

“I’m super stoked for this,” Nelson said. “It definitely took awhile but I couldn’t be more excited.”

Nelson, who played for three coaches at Hillcrest, was one of several running backs to get carries for the Knights last season, finishing with 220 yards. Those aren’t the kind of numbers that generally catch the eyes of college recruiters.

“I found out pretty quick after getting on recruiting sites that the recruiting starts during your freshman year, so it’s tough,” he said.

But his 3.8 GPA, involvement with student government and a CNA degree earned through HOSA Future Health Professionals drew the attention of at least three schools — Lewis and Clark College, Puget Sound and Briar Cliff. After visiting all three earlier this year, Nelson settled on LCC.

“It just seemed like the best fit,” he said.

Nelson said he’s already getting his 5-foot-8, 175-pound body ready for college football. LCC coaches have sent him a summer training program, and he plans to add some muscle to his frame before reporting for fall camp in August.

He’s also mentally prepared for the challenge of playing college football and beginning a challenging pre-med program.

“I found out through high school that the busier I am, the more I get done,” he said. “It helps me stay focused.”