Veteran wide receiver again is in position to be major contributor for Irish in '99 . . . has made noteworthy contributions each of his three seasons and could develop into full-time performer for '99 following graduation of split end starter Malcolm Johnson . . . came out of '99 spring drills tied with Joey Getherall in fight for starting flanker job . . . smooth performer with speed and hands to develop into consistent, solid pass-catcher and be a big-play receiver . . . has shown flashes of brilliance and upgraded his intensity on play-to-play basis.
AS A JUNIOR: Played in eight games in '98 as reserve wide receiver, missing four midseason contests with ankle sprain . . . Notre Dame's leading receiver in '98 opener vs. Michigan with two catches for 68 yards, including 35-yarder from Jarious Jackson for touchdown that gave Irish 23-13 lead . . . made three catches vs. Michigan State for 44 yards . . . suffered left ankle sprain vs. Purdue that kept him out of Stanford, Arizona State, Army and Baylor games . . . returned for Boston College game to play off the bench, then caught a 19-yard pass vs. Navy . . . had career-best game vs. LSU with four grabs for 78 yards, including game-winning 10-yard catch from Jackson with 1:27 remaining in 39-36 victory . . . also had two other catches for 24 and 17 on that same game-winning drive . . . had two catches for 20 yards in reserve role in '99 Gator Bowl vs. Georgia Tech.
AS A SOPHOMORE: Irish reserve wide receiver saved his most spectacular catch of '97 season for final minutes of final regular-season game . . . played in all 13 games in '97, earning starting assignments vs. LSU (regular-season game) and West Virginia after strong midseason improvement . . . finished fourth on team with 23 catches . . . had impressive outing vs. Michigan with five catches for 45 yards . . . enjoyed best career day vs. Boston College with six catches for 110 yards, including 44-yarder that ranked as longest play of the afternoon for Irish . . . led Irish with three receptions for 59 vs. Navy . . . made first career start at flanker vs. LSU in regular-season contest . . . bruised a hip early in start vs. West Virginia . . . came off the bench despite that hip bruise and caught 47-yard crossing pattern on third and 17 with 1:30 left in the game to take Irish to the Hawaii nine - to set up Scott Cengia's game-winning 20-yard field goal that made Notre Dame eligible for postseason play . . . sprained an ankle on that reception vs. Hawaii and played sparingly in '97 Independence Bowl vs. LSU.
AS A FRESHMAN: One of six rookies to earn monograms in '96 . . . played more minutes than any other '97 freshman on offense . . . played in 10 games, missing only Boston College contest . . . caught passes in each of first five games and six overall . . . nabbed two for 17 vs. Purdue and two for 60 vs. Rutgers, including 38-yarder from Jarious Jackson for fourth-period TD on nifty crossing pattern . . . one of more memorable moments from rookie season was a reception that was disallowed in end zone vs. Air Force.
HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL DATA: 1995 Pennsylvania player of the year among classes A and AA . . . listed 61st on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 players nationally . . . earned three letters in football as flanker and free safety at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, Pa. . . . captain of team as senior . . . caught 71 passes for 1,192 yards and 16 TDs as senior in '95 . . . helped team to Class AA Pennsylvania state title in '95 . . . first-team all-state as junior and senior, second team as sophomore . . . caught 185 career passes for 3,132 yards and 35 TDs, including 61 for 1,020 yards and eight TDs as junior in '94 . . . had 11 catches for 189 in one game of sophomore season . . . recorded a 108-yard interception return . . . selected for Big 33 all-star game . . . from same high school as former Irish and current Seattle Seahawk tailback Ricky Watters . . . also played basketball, earning two letters . . . ran 10.9 in 100 meters as junior . . . winner of 1996 Franklin B. Watkins Memorial Trophy, presented by National Alliance of African American Athletes to premier male African American scholar-athlete in the country (an award Irish teammate Grant Irons won in '97) . . . featured on poster produced by National Alliance of African American Athletes . . . born 12-29-77 in Harrisburg, Pa. . . . second youngest of five children . . . full name is Raki Dalas Nelson . . . enrolled in College of Arts and Letters with major in economics.
G-GS Time Rec. Yds. Avg. TD LG 1996 10-0 107:28 8 128 16.0 1 38 1997 12-2 135:36 23 341 14.8 0 47 1998 7-0 61:46 11 217 19.7 2 35 TOTAL 29-2 304:50 42 686 16.3 3 47
Nelson Game by Game
1996 Game Rec. Yds. TD Vanderbilt 1 8 0 Purdue 2 17 0 Texas 1 13 0 Ohio State 1 10 0 Washington 1 20 0 Air Force 0 0 0 Navy 0 0 0 Boston College DNP Pittsburgh 0 0 0 Rutgers 2 60 1 USC 0 0 0
1997 Game Rec. Yds. TD Georgia Tech 0 0 0 Purdue 1 4 0 Michigan State 1 10 0 Michigan 5 45 0 Stanford 1 5 0 Pittsburgh 2 16 0 USC 3 45 0 Boston College 6 110 0 Navy 3 59 0 *LSU 0 0 0 *West Virginia 0 0 0 Hawaii 1 47 0 1997 Independence Bowl LSU 0 0 0
1998 Game Rec. Yds. TD Michigan 2 68 1 Michigan State 3 44 0 Purdue 0 0 0 Stanford DNP-Inj. Arizona State DNP-Inj. Army DNP-Inj. Baylor DNP-Inj. Boston College 0 0 0 Navy 1 19 0 LSU 4 78 1 USC 1 8 0 1999 Gator Bowl Georgia Tech 2 20 0
The Raki Nelson File
- The Irish offensive player who will surprise people this year is Rocky Boiman
- The Irish defensive player who will surprise people this year is Joey Goodspeed
- The sports team I followed when I was younger was The University of Miami
- A word to describe me on the field is Aggressive
- A word to describe me off the field is Nice
- Other than Notre Dame Stadium, my favorite college stadium in which to play football is Michigan Stadium
- The area I would like to improve as a football player is All areas
- If I could play another position on the other side of the ball it would be Cornerback
- My greatest personal athletic moment Hasn't happened yet
- The people who have helped me the most since I've been at Notre Dame are My family
- The top three teams in college football this year will be Notre Dame, Penn State and Florida State