Dallas First Baptist Academy seventh grade quarterback Jaylin Nelson barely made the Dec. 1 deadline to submit his game tape and application for the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl.
When his father, Carlton Nelson, called to make sure his son’s information was received in time to be considered, he received the confirmation and was told it would take about two or three weeks for the bowl to let the Nelsons know if Jaylin made the cut.
It took the game's officials only a day to name Nelson a middle school All-American.
Nelson will be one of a small group of area middle school athletes who will represent North Texas in the showcase that will take place Sunday in San Antonio in collaboration with Saturday’s high school Army All-American Game.
Nelson has spent the majority of his youth playing select pee-wee football for Deion Sanders' team, The Truth, which granted him access to not only some of the best competition and tournaments in the country but to coaching from "Prime Time" himself.
“He was with us every day,” Nelson said. “He always helped us with life and gave us a lot of advice about life and sports.”
Nelson has also experienced much more football than many of the young athletes he competes against who typically begin their football careers in middle school, which gives FBA varsity football coach Jason Lovvorn the opportunity to teach him at a much higher level than most players.
“He’s played football for a long time,” Lovvorn said. “He’s played in some really competitive tournaments -- national tournaments. Even when you watch the films of those games, he’s the best player on the team.”
Nelson even had the opportunity to travel with Sanders to Canton, Ohio, during Sanders’ Hall of Fame weekend to participate in one of those national tournaments.
On that game film Lovvorn mentioned, it is evident that Nelson has an awareness of the field and the defense that is ahead of his years. He uses his ability to spin out of tackles and scramble out of the pocket but also has the confidence to look downfield and create plays out of nothing.
While it’s not out of the ordinary to find a seventh grade football player who can juke and spin his way down the field on the ground, it isn’t every day that the same player can throw over 50 yards on a dime.
Even greater than those talents to Lovvorn is his coachability and work ethic. Nelson continues to learn the art of the quarterback from Lovvorn, who earned a spot as the backup quarterback at Baylor after walking on the team as a freshman in 2004.
“He’s a really hard worker and he continues to develop,” Lovvorn said. “Every practice and every game, he gets better and better. He’s got a really good attitude even though he’s got a lot of natural ability. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen. I think that says a lot about his future development.”
Nelson says he expects to play out his high school career at FBA, playing in TAPPS small school districts because of the Christian-based education the school provides.
In his first year at the school, he led his middle school team to an 8-1 record.
At the All-American Bowl, Nelson said he hopes to do some networking with the coaches and players who travel to San Antonio and just have a good time playing the game.
Lovvorn also hopes Nelson enjoys his time at the game and hopes those networking possibilities attracts other athletes to the a Saints athletic program that is in decline because of decreasing enrolment in private schools.
Most importantly, Nelson's parents hope he uses this opportunity to continue to learn little life lessons that many kids don’t have the chance to experience until much later in life and develop those few talents that don’t already come naturally.
“There’s a lot of natural instincts that you can’t teach and there are a lot of things that you can’t teach that he’s got,” Lovvorn said.