Grizzly JR Nelson: The Black-Belt Cornerback

The Griz Got Talent show is Tuesday, and one of the more unique performances will come from Griz cornerback JR Nelson, whose got a talent you may not expect.

Nelson is talented on the grid-iron, but his talents run a little deeper than that. In fact, he's a second degree black belt

"People are like 'what? Well let me see something', so I've done some stuff to show my friends, but no one really knows that side of me," says Nelson

In Taekwondo, Nelson grew up as one of the best young martial artists in the entire country, a state champion in California, and a competitor on the world stage.

"They definitely teach you a lot of life-skills, like respect, and discipline, and just being confident and they teach you things you can actually use in your life," says Nelson.

Those traits he learned have carried over for his current coach.

"He's great to coach, he's a yes sir, no sir guy.  My guys like to have fun, and I let them talk.  He's one of the least talkative guys but he'll talk amongst us, and he can be himself amongst the group of characters that I do have.  He's a great kid, very charismatic and very talented," says Griz cornerbacks coach Aric Williams.

As much as he had a passion for martial arts, and still does, it was his father who got him into taekwondo, and also encouraged him to try other sports.

"My Dad realized there wasn't a college scholarship for Taekwondo, so he told me to find something I loved to do, and I wanted to play football.  As I started playing football, I realized everything I did in Taekwondo I could use for football," says Nelson.

How does the martial arts background play a role on the field?

"Just hand-eye coordination, especially at our position, playing the ball in the air, being able to have quick hands when you're jamming, or when you're swatting the ball down in the air, and the jumping ability, it helps with the position," says Williams.

Nelson will take the stage Tuesday evening for the Griz Got Talent show, and while he may be a little rusty, he's still looking forward to it.

"The last competition I did was probably around 7th or 8th grade.  But I've done performances for middle schools and elementary schools back-home.  It's been awhile, but As soon as I got my hands on some nun chucks it just came back to me naturally,"

For more on the talent show, visit

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