Former Hersey star Tom Nelson made the Cincinnati Bengals final 53-man roster Saturday.
Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer
Tom Nelson beat the odds to reach football's highest level.
The former Hersey High School star and 2004 Daily Herald All-Area quarterback didn't play at a big-time college powerhouse and wasn't selected in this year's NFL draft.
But Nelson was brought in from Illinois State as a free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals and survived Saturday's final cuts to make their final 53-man roster Saturday.
"I wasn't sure what to expect," Nelson told the Cincinnati Enquirer of the phone call from head coach Marvin Lewis, "but coach Lewis broke the news and it felt great.
"I felt like I showed I could do a lot for this team. It's just an honor. The coaches know I had the ability and I got to show it to everyone else."
Versatility was a big factor for Nelson, who was featured on the HBO series "Hard Knocks." The cornerback-safety made an impression in the second preseason game against New England with a sack and a forced fumble and figures to be used as a "gunner" on punt coverage.
Nelson led Hersey to a Class 7A playoff berth his senior year.