Nelson Ready For Senior Season

July 28, 2009

TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona senior free safety Cam Nelson will attend Pac-10 Media Day on Thursday as the Arizona student-athlete representative at the annual event, which marks the beginning of official pre-season football activities as kickoff for the 2009 season nears.

Nelson, who is moving from strong safety to free safety this season, is one of 10 players selected to represent his respective school and, interestingly, seven of those players play on the defensive side of the ball. Arizona figures to have one of the league’s top defensive units with eight starters returning from a defense that finished No. 3 in the Pac-10 and No. 24 nationally in total defense a year ago.

Below is a short Q&A with Nelson as he prepares for media day and the start of Fall Camp next week.

What are you looking forward to the most at Pac-10 Media Day?
“I think just getting to meet the other players. I don’t really know any of the others personally, but I certainly know of them and who they are. I guess I’m looking forward to the interviews, too. I’ll be able to speak the peace a little bit about our program. I think people have a lot of questions about us.”

Do you think some pre-season media publications are overlooking the Arizona Wildcats? Why?
“I do. I think a lot of people are counting us out probably because we lost some of our playmakers on offense. But, we have a good defense returning. I think it’s similar to last year when the offense was returning a lot of players but the defense to fill in a bunch of positions and the defense didn’t get respect. Our defense turned out to be pretty good and I think our offense will do the same this year.”

How has the defense improved this off-season?
“I think we’ve been playing really well in 7-on-7s. We’re just trying not to get content; we’re trying to get better every day. We don’t want our expected success to psych us out because we have a lot of returning players. During my sophomore year (2007) we had nearly everyone returning but we didn’t play as well as we should have on paper. The focus this year is making sure we play even better than expected.”

How would you describe the performance of the offense in the voluntary off-season workouts?
“The offense started off slow at the beginning of 7-on-7s. It takes a little while to get the offense down and with our experience on defense it was tough on the offense. But they have come on lately. As a defense, we want to make it hard on the offense every day not just to get us better, but to get them better as well. We feel if the offense can move the ball on us, then they’ll be able to move the ball against anybody.”

Is it easier preparing for Fall Camp now that you are a senior?
Oh, it’s a lot easier (laughs). I know what to expect. I don’t have to wonder what two-a-days will be like or what the coaches’ reactions will be. It’s a lot more comfortable feeling and you can focus completely on football without the uncertainty.”

How does your role change now that you’re one of the team leaders?
I knew this role was going to come eventually. Antoine (Cason) told me a couple years ago that eventually I was going to be one of the leaders of the defense. Now it’s my time to do that. It’s important for me to be more vocal and make sure my leadership is showing to the team.”

What has been the focus of your off-season training?

“Learning the free safety position has been a big focus. I’ve been watching a lot of film and making sure I understand everything about the position. I’ve gotten faster and stronger. Both my upper body and lower body strength has improved and I feel a lot faster than a year ago.”

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