2021 was a roller coaster year for Zion Nelson.
During fall camp last season, Nelson sustained a knee injury that proved to be an obstacle for him during the first part of the season. By November, Nelson's knee and his overall performance had improved dramatically, as he allowed only two pressures and no sacks on 188 pass-blocking snaps. When the season was over, Nelson had allowed only three sacks while registering a pass blocking grade of 90.8 from Pro Football Focus.
Nelson's run blocking is one of many areas he has addressed this offseason. Working alongside Miami Hurricanes' new strength coach, Aaron Feld, he has invested much of his time in the gym to improve his overall strength.
Nelson's new head coach and Hurricanes Football alumnus, Mario Cristobal, whose extensive background as an offensive line coach can only help but improve his fundamentals, has arguably been his most significant offseason gain.
"It is nice to get that type of attention from the head coach," Nelson said during his media availability interview in March. "Sometimes you can feel like the offensive line can get left out. It is nice knowing that the head coach is really rooting for us."
As one of the top offensive linemen returning this season, Nelson is seen by many as a potential first-round pick in next year's NFL Draft. Yet, Nelson's focus has been on improving his overall fundamentals, as the Hurricanes' offense has all the tools to become one of the best units in the nation, featuring top-rated quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, receiver Xavier Restrepo, and senior tight end Will Mallory. Nelson's presence on the offense line should ultimately prove to be the element help take his team to the next level.