Darrin Nelson
No. 20
Position:Running back
Return specialist
Personal information
Born: (1959-01-02) January 2, 1959 (age 65)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
Height:5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight:184 lb (83 kg)
Career information
High school:Pius X (Downey, California)
College:Stanford (1977–1978, 1980–1981)
NFL draft:1982 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:4,442
Rushing average:4.4
Rushing touchdowns:18
Receptions:286
Receiving yards:2,559
Receiving touchdowns:5
Kickoff return yards:3,659
Punt return yards:357
Player stats at PFR

Darrin Milo Nelson (born January 2, 1959) is an American former professional football player who was a running back and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL) for the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers. He played college football for the Stanford Cardinal, earning second-team All-American honors in 1978.

Early life

Nelson attended Pius X High School. He accepted a football scholarship from Stanford University to play under head coach Bill Walsh.

In his first year at Stanford in 1977, he was named the starter and became the first freshman running back in conference history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He registered 183 carries for 1,069 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 50 receptions for 524 yards and 3 receiving touchdowns.

As a sophomore in 1978, he posted 167 carries for 1,061 yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 50 receptions for 446 yards and 4 receiving touchdowns.

In 1979, he was lost for the season with a hamstring injury. As a junior in 1980, he had 161 carries for 889 yards, 4 rushing touchdowns, 47 receptions for 552 yards and 4 receiving touchdowns.

As a senior in 1981, he collected 192 carries for 1,014 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 67 receptions for 846 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns.

Nelson was a dual threat as a rusher and receiver, becoming the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 1,000 yards and catch more than 50 passes in one season. He accomplished this feat three times.[1] He finished his college career with the school records for rushing yards (4,033), receptions (214), touchdowns (40), scoring (242 points), while also setting the NCAA record with 6,885 career all-purpose yards.

He was inducted into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2014, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.[2]

Professional career

Minnesota Vikings (first stint)

Nelson was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round (7th overall) of the 1982 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he experienced a strike-shortened season that was reduced to 9 games, finishing second on the team to Ted Brown with 136 rushing yards.

As a running back, Nelson was a threat as both a runner and as receiver out of the backfield, though he is perhaps best known for dropping the game-tying touchdown on 4th down in the closing moments of the 1987 NFC Championship Game. In 1988, he missed three games with an injury.

In 1989, he staged an acrimonious contract holdout and lost his starting position to D.J. Dozier.[3] On October 12, Nelson was traded to the Dallas Cowboys as part of the Herschel Walker Trade. At the time he had appeared in 5 games as a backup, registering 67 carries for 321 yards and 38 receptions for 380 yards.

San Diego Chargers

On October 17, 1989, after refusing to report to Dallas, he was traded to the San Diego Chargers in exchange for a fifth round draft choice (#116-Reggie Thornton) as part of the Herschel Walker trade.[4][5] He was the third-string running back behind Marion Butts and Tim Spencer. On September 3, 1990, he was released and later re-signed. He was the fourth-string running back during that season.

Minnesota Vikings (second stint)

In 1991, he was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Vikings. He was a backup running back behind Herschel Walker and Terry Allen and was also the team's kickoff returner for two seasons. On August 30, 1992, he was released and later re-signed.[6] He announced his retirement on June 30, 1993.

For his career, Nelson rushed for 4,442 yards, caught 286 passes for 2,559 yards and scored 23 touchdowns (18 rushing and 5 receiving) in 152 games.

Career stats

Legend
Led the Pac-8/Pac-10
Bold Career high
NCAA Collegiate Career Statistics
Stanford Cardinal
Season Rushing Receiving
Att Yards Avg TD Lng Rec Yards Avg TD
1977 183 1,069 5.8 3 0 50 524 10.6 3
1978 167 1,061 6.4 6 0 50 446 8.9 4
1979 did not play due to injury
1980 161 889 5.5 4 40 47 552 11.7 4
1981 192 1,014 5.3 11 0 67 846 12.6 5
NCAA Career 703 4,033 5.7 24 40 214 2,368 11.1 16
Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high
NFL Career Statistics
Minnesota Vikings
Season GP Rushing Receiving
Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD
1982 7 44 136 3.1 18 0 9 100 11.1 22 0
1983 15 154 642 4.2 56T 1 51 618 12.1 68 0
1984 15 80 406 5.1 39 3 27 162 6.0 17 0
1985 16 200 893 4.5 37 5 43 301 7.0 25T 1
1986 16 191 793 4.2 42 4 53 593 11.2 34 3
1987 10 131 642 4.9 72 2 26 129 5.0 13 0
1988 13 112 380 3.4 27 1 16 105 6.6 27 0
1989 5 31 124 4.0 24 0 24 52 7.4 7 0
San Diego Chargers
1989 9 36 197 5.5 28 0 31 328 10.6 49 0
1990 14 3 14 4.7 5 0 4 29 7.3 10 0
Minnesota Vikings
1991 16 28 210 7.5 29 2 19 142 7.5 13 0
1992 16 10 5 0.5 9 0 0 0 0.0 0 0
NFL Career 152 1,020 4,442 4.4 72 18 286 2,559 8.9 68 5

Personal life

Nelson spent 15 years in the administration at Stanford University. In 2011, Nelson became the Senior Associate Athletic Director for the University of California Irvine.[7]

References

  1. ^ http://www.gostanford.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=208166821[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ National Football Foundation (May 22, 2014). "NFF Proudly Announces Impressive 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class". FootballFoundation.org. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  3. ^ "Unhappy Darrin Nelson Signs 2 1-Year Pacts With Vikings". Deseret News. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  4. ^ "Nelson Says He Won't Play for Cowboys". Deseret News. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  5. ^ "Why Is This Man Smiling? He Wants To : Chargers: Darrin Nelson is bringing an upbeat attitude and more than a little ability". Los Angeles Times. October 20, 1989. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  6. ^ "Eagles Release Kemp as Teams Trim Rosters". Deseret News. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  7. ^ "Where Are They Now? - Darrin Nelson". Archived from the original on February 26, 2016. Retrieved October 14, 2015.