Emmetsburg native Bruce Nelson brought the luck of the E-Hawks with him to Iowa City on Saturday.
Nelson, a former Emmetsburg E-Hawks standout, returned to his alma mater at the University of Iowa Saturday to serve as the Honorary Captain of the Hawkeyes in their game with the University of Northern Iowa.
Nelson, an All State Player and member of a State Championship team in 1997 for Emmetsburg, walked on at Iowa as a true freshman and was red-shirted for the first season. After that, Nelson went on to start 48 straight games through his next four years as a lineman with the Hawkeyes, earning First-Team All-American honors in 2002 as the Hawkeyes posted a perfect 8-0 mark in the Big Ten Conference. He also helped Iowa to its first-ever BCS appearance when the Hawkeyes took on USC in the Orange Bowl.
Nelson also was named a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and CNNSI.com, and he was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, presented annually to the top center in the nation.
Not only was Nelson honored on the gridiron, he also excelled academically, as he earned academic all-Big Ten recognition in each of his final three years. Nelson was drafted in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.
He would go on to play for the Panthers in their Super Bowl appearance and eventually retired from the NFL?to return home to Emmetsburg, where he farms with his family, and serves as a volunteer assistant for the Emmetsburg E-Hawk football program. Nelson can be seen on the E-Hawk sidelines each Friday night, working with the players.
In his capacity as the Honorary Captain over the past weekend, Nelson spoke to the team prior to Saturday's game, and accompanied the Iowa captains to the center of the field for the pregame coin toss and on the Hawkeye sidelines during the game.
Despite some injuries in the backfield during the game, the Hawkeyes persevered in the contest, earning a 27-16 victory over the University of Northern Iowa in Saturday's game.