Born: May 31, 1985 (Manhattan, Kansas)
Graduated: Riley County High School, 2003 / Kansas State University, 2008
Just a farm kid from Manhattan, Jordy Ray Nelson is one of the most accomplished football players to ever come from the state of Kansas. Nelson’s parents had season tickets to Kansas State football games and that gave him an early love of the team.
Nelson attended Riley County High School, competing in football, basketball and track. In basketball, Nelson was named all-state, averaging 17.2 points per game as a senior. In track, Nelson won an AAU national championship as a 10-year-old and continued his success in high school, winning Class 3A titles as a senior in the 100-meter-dash, 200-meter-dash, 400-meter-dash and long jump. In football, Nelson was a dual-threat quarterback, passing and rushing for over 1,000 yards each and totaling 33 touchdowns. As a result, Nelson was named the Flint Hills Player of the Year by the Manhattan Mercury and he played in the Kansas Shrine Bowl.
In 2003, Nelson walked-on to Kansas State to play for legendary head coach Bill Snyder and took a redshirt year off. Heading into the 2004 season, Nelson was set to play as a defensive back, but Coach Snyder moved him to wide receiver. The payoff for this move would be seen in 2005, Nelson’s redshirt sophomore year, when he’d lead the Wildcats in every receiving category. Nelson had 45 receptions, 669 yards and eight touchdowns.
In 2006, after Snyder temporarily retired from the head coaching position and was replaced with Ron Prince, Nelson was surrounded by plenty of hype, being listed on the preseason Biletnikoff Award watchlist, the award for the most outstanding receiving in college football. Playing through a knee injury, Nelson finished the season with 39 receptions, 547 yards and one touchdown.
As a senior, Nelson’s production rose dramatically, totaling 122 receptions, 1,606 yards and 11 touchdowns. Nelson also passed for two touchdowns and returned two punts for touchdowns. Nelson received consensus All-American honors and was a Biletnikoff Award finalist. Nelson finished his college career with the second-most receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in Kansas State history.
Nelson was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, becoming the highest-drafted wide receiver from Kansas State since 2001. In 2010, Nelson was a part of the Super Bowl-winning Packers team, putting up a Packers-record 140 receiving yards in Super Bowl XLV, the biggest game of his life.
In four of the following five seasons he played, Nelson put up 1,250 or more receiving yards. In 2014, Nelson made it to the Pro Bowl and was named a second-team All-Pro. Nelson then missed the 2015 season after tearing his ACL in the preseason. In 2016, Nelson came back strong, leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 14. As a result, Nelson was awarded the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award and the Best Comeback Athlete ESPY Award. Nelson played in the 2016 NFC Championship Game after cracking multiple ribs in the Wild Card game, catching six balls for 67 yards and one touchdown.
Following the 2017 season, Nelson joined the Oakland Raiders after 10 seasons with the Packers. Nelson was second on the Raiders in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
On March 27, 2019, Nelson retired from the NFL after 11 seasons. Nelson had 8,587 career receiving yards in the NFL, nearly twice as many as any other player to come from Kansas State. Nelson holds eight franchise records for the Packers, including most receiving yards in a season (1,519 in 2014), most receiving yards in a Super Bowl (140) and most career games with two or more receiving touchdowns (15).
Today, Nelson continues working 12 hours a day on his family farm in Riley, driving a combine and rounding up the family’s 1,000-cow herd, as he did at the end of each NFL season. Nelson says he identifies more as a farmer than a football player. Nelson has been married to his wife, Emily, since 2007 and they have three children: Royal, Brooks and Adda Jo.
Please welcome Jordy Nelson to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
By: Sam Hays