SAN DIEGO, Calif.– Sean Mannion didn’t lead the Beavers on a game-winning drive against San Diego State; he didn’t have to. Cornerback Steven Nelson returned an interception for a touchdown with less than three minutes to play in the game to put Oregon State ahead for good.
For Nelson, a JUCO transfer in his first season with the Beavers, it validates why he chose OSU.
“It was hard times being in junior college, watching all of my friends play Division-I when I knew I should be there and I could play on that level,” Nelson said on the field postgame. “I’m finally here.”
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion said he was prepping for the offense to get the ball back when the pick-six happened.
“I was kind of looking out of one eye and I just saw that play and I was like ‘oh my gosh, he scored!’” Mannion said. “Unbelievable play by [Nelson]. Couple weeks in a row, he’s come up huge for us. It’s made our job a little easier.”
“‘Mr. Pick’ himself,” said Rashaad Reynolds. “He came up with another timely pick. What can you say about the guy. He’s a great player making plays.”
“That was huge,” said head coach Mike Riley. “That play will go down in the history of this season, I think.”
The interception had Beaver fans and even former players going crazy. Ex-OSU cornerback Jordan Poyer, currently playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, tweeted “Steve Nelson you have made me proud…”
“That is so cool,” Riley said of Poyer’s tweet. “He’s totally invested in this team. That’s what we got at Oregon State. We got guys who are all in. Even when they’re gone, they’re all in.”
“[Poyer] calls me before every game to encourage me and get my mind right,” Nelson said. “He tells me that he knows I’m a real good athlete. He sees it in me and I need to trust myself. When I started listening to that, I started playing better.”
Nelson’s touchdown gives the Beavers two pick-sixes in as many weeks. Nelson now has four interceptions in his last three game. His total of four picks ties him for the most in the country.
And…he still has a great name.