ASU’s Robert Nelson: I’m the hardest critic on myself

Nov 19, 2013, 11:29 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. — With hard work comes success, and with success comes recognition.

Robert Nelson is reaping the benefits of that hard work, first on the field and now off the field.

“I was surprised. I smiled about it, but I can’t stay stuck on that,” he said in reference to being named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.

“I was happy for one day and now it’s back to the grind. It’s a new mindset. Why not get Pac-12 Player of the Week this week? Why not? You can’t dwell on last week and Saturday because it’s over with. It’s about building every week.”

Nelson, in recent weeks, has built quite a foundation, one made from interceptions.

He picked off Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion twice, returning one 23 yards for a touchdown. He picked off Travis Wilson the week prior at Utah.

“He’s really had two of the most critical plays in the last two games,” head coach Todd Graham said. “He’s playing phenomenal.”

There was also the fourth quarter interception at Washington State. And don’t forget the interception he had to start the second half against Colorado.

That’s five interceptions in the past five games.

They’ve come in bunches for the Sun Devils’ starting cornerback.

“It’s the defense,” he said Tuesday. “They’re getting to the quarterback. The linebackers are getting to the quarterback. The d-line: Will Sutton, Davon Coleman, Gannon (Conway), Jaxon Hood, Chris Young; when they get to the quarterback like that, the (quarterback) is going to throw the ball up quick. That allows me to adjust to the ball faster than the wide receiver does and get into position.”

Overall, Nelson leads the team with six interceptions, the most since safety Troy Nolan had six in 2007. There are three, possibly four games remaining, meaning he may not be done adding to his total.

“It’s never enough. It’s never enough,” Nelson said. “When I came into the spring I set a goal. I wrote my goals on my mirror. I put the most impossible goals ever. I said I wanted 15 interceptions. I wanted 100 tackles, 30 pass breakups; something that’s hard to reach so I can keep working and working and working to reach those goals.

“I’m the hardest critic on myself.”

In other words, complacency never enters the thought process, something he said he learned from Graham.

“Once you get comfortable in a place like that then you get lost,” Nelson said. “You get lost in being into yourself and being a selfish player. I would’ve been a selfish guy if I came out here (at practice) and slacked today. If I was like, ‘OK, I’m Pac-12 Player of the Week. I don’t need to this. I don’t need to do that.’ Why not get better, like I said before, to be the Pac-12 Player of the Week again and work harder.”

Penguin Air

Arizona State Football

A Arizona State Sun Devils pylon with a football during the NCAAF game against the USC Trojans at S...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 Conference to begin negotiations for next media rights agreements

The Pac-12 Board of Directors met on Tuesday and authorized the conference to immediately begin negotiations for new media rights agreements.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 exploring all expansion options with USC, UCLA heading to Big Ten

The Pac-12 is looking into expansion following the decisions from USC and UCLA on Thursday to head to the Big Ten as early as 2024.
5 days ago
Basketballs are rolled off the court during the NCAAB game at McKale Center on January 03, 2022 in ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona ‘extremely disappointed’ in USC, UCLA leaving Pac-12 for Big Ten

The Arizona Wildcats broke their silence Friday regarding USC's and UCLA's plans to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as early as 2024.
5 days ago
UCLA plays Oregon during a Pac-12 NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., ...
Arizona Sports

UCLA, USC to leave Pac-12 for Big Ten in 2024

UCLA and USC will be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, beginning in the 2024-25 season, the two schools confirmed on Thursday evening.
6 days ago
Defensive back Jordan Clark #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates with the Territorial Cup ...
Nikash Nath

Kyle Soelle, Jordan Clark ready to lead new faces for ASU football

ASU junior CB Jordan Clark and senior captain LB Kyle Soelle are expected to lead a Sun Devils defensive that'll have many new faces in 2022.
12 days ago
Arizona State Sun Devils offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson (77) lines up during the college foot...
Nikash Nath

Arizona State OL LaDarius Henderson talks new culture amid low expectations

OL LaDarius Henderson has been with ASU since 2019 and is no stranger to experiencing personnel and cultural changes within the program.
21 days ago
ASU’s Robert Nelson: I’m the hardest critic on myself