Farming, Football Fulfills Nelson's Soul

Sept. 15, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Bruce Nelson and the nucleus of the 2002 University of Iowa Big Ten Championship team were also together in 1999, 2000, and 2001. Those seasons produced win totals of one, three and seven games.

“We got kicked around together, the same guys,” said Nelson, honorary captain for Saturday’s game against Northern Iowa. “Everyone wanted a whole new regime, then all the sudden we started winning some games my junior year. Our senior year we ended up going 11-2, and the vast majority of those guys were the same. We worked hard and we got better every day.”

Nelson, an All-American center, laughed when reflecting on the 2002 season that saw the Hawkeyes win their final nine regular season games after losing at home to Iowa State, 36-31.

“I had the best seat in the house for that deal,” he said. “The secret to playing center is to have two really good guards and we had three of them. We had Ben Sobieski, Andy Lightfoot, and Eric Steinbach. All I had to do was snap the ball and they would do the rest of the work.”

UI head coach Kirk Ferentz was in his fourth season in 2002, and Nelson remembered listening to honorary captains speak prior to home games while he was a player.

“I asked myself what I would do if I ever had the opportunity,” Nelson said. “Here 10 years later, I got the opportunity and it’s special.”

After a brief NFL career, Nelson returned to his hometown of Emmetsburg, Iowa, where he farms fulltime and assists with the E-Hawk football program two days a week.

“Farming is not much different than football,” Nelson said. “You’re playing in the dirt and rolling around; it’s not glamorous, but it fulfills your soul.”

To watch an interview with Nelson, click HERE.