IOWA CITY - Former University of Iowa All-American Bruce Nelson will serve as honorary captain this weekend as the University of Iowa football team hosts in-state rival Northern Iowa in Kinnick Stadium.
Nelson, an Emmetsburg native who now lives with his wife and family there, received first team All-America honors as a senior in 2002, starting all 13 games at center as the Hawkeyes posted a perfect 8-0 Big Ten record, earning an invitation to the 2003 Orange Bowl - the first-ever BCS bowl appearance for Iowa.
Nelson joined the program as a walk-on. Following a redshirt season, he earned a starting position on the offensive line and started all 48 games throughout his four-year playing career.
At the time, Nelson's starting streak ranked third in the nation among offensive linemen.
As a senior, Nelson was named first-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and CNNSI.com, and he was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, presented annually to the top center in the nation.
Nelson earned first-team all-Big Ten honors and was both a permanent team captain and team Most Valuable Player.
Nelson and the Hawkeyes won 11 games in 2002. The Iowa offense set single-season school records for total points (484), touchdowns (60) and points per game (37.2) in 2002, and also led the Big Ten in scoring in 2001 (32.6). The Hawkeye offense featured a 1,000-yarder rusher in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Nelson also excelled in the classroom, as he earned academic all-Big Ten recognition in each of his final three years. He earned the Hayden Fry "Extra Heartbeat" Award as a senior and was selected to compete in the Senior Bowl.
Nelson was drafted in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.
Nelson will accompany the Iowa captains to the center of the field for Saturday's pregame coin toss. He will also be with the Hawkeyes in the locker room before and after the game, and on the sidelines during the contest.
Nelson currently resides in Emmetsburg with his wife, Jana, daughter, Nora, and son, Vince.