NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma has landed its 15th verbal commit of the 2012 class in junior college defensive end Chaz Nelson (Garden City, Kan./Garden City CC).
Nelson, 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, told the OU coaching staff Sunday morning that he was committing. He said the coaches were very excited.
OU has reached out to Garden City before, most recently with former wide receiver Cameron Kenney, but the Sooners haven't had their eyes on Nelson for long.
Nelson told Rivals.com the interest with the Sooners started a couple of weeks ago. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was the first coach he talked to, but he now talks with defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright.
"He's a kid we saw a lot of potential in," former Garden City coach Lucas Aslin told SoonerNation. "He's someone that is finally maturing and filling out. He's going to fit in real well at Oklahoma."
Aslin was the coach at Garden City for Nelson's first two years. Nelson redshirted his first year and had a solid redshirt freshman campaign, but Aslin said he knew Nelson had a chance to accomplish big things this season.
Nelson said he is on track to come to Oklahoma in January. The defensive end spot will be a battle in 2012, as the Sooners will have to replace a graduating Frank Alexander.
OU could also see junior defensive end Ronnell Lewis elect to enter the NFL draft. Lewis is ranked No. 17 on Mel Kiper's Big Board on ESPN.com.
Nelson's commitment gives OU its fifth on defense and the third at defensive end for the class of 2012. Polo Manukainiu (Euless, Texas/Trinity) and Charles Tapper (Baltimore/City College) have also committed to the Sooners.
Nelson has played the last two seasons at Garden City after graduating from Columbus (Ohio) Beechcroft. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
"He's a great kid," Aslin said. "His speed is his biggest strength, his pass rush. He's a quick kid who is only getting better."
Nelson was named the Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year this season. He had 96 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Nelson forced four fumbles and also returned an interception for a touchdown.
The late-season game against the Cyclones on a holiday weekend and right in the middle of most states' high school playoffs didn't lend itself to being a big high school recruiting weekend for OU. Though some prospects did make the trip, junior college visitors stole the show.
Other junior college products tight end Blake Jackson (Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale CC) and defensive back Kass Everett (Philadelphia/Pierce College) said they enjoyed their visit. Jackson and Everett both plan on making more visits before announcing their commitments.
Bob Przybylo covers football and basketball recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at email@example.com.