Coach Nelson played 2 years of high school football at Glebe Collegiate Institute. In 1991 Glebe went undefeated and won the city championship. Nelson was selected to represent the east at the Senior Bowl.
He accepted a partial scholarship to Division 1-AA Idaho State University in the Big Sky Conference.
After an injury brought him home, he played two years for the Ottawa Sooners where he was an OFC All-Star.