Playing in the Labor Day series, a dream come true for local product Cole Nelson

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Six-foot-six, 312-pound defensive lineman Cole, 24, was selected by the Elks fifth overall in the 2021 CFL Draft

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Cole Nelson grew up watching the Labor Day Classic series between Edmonton and Calgary and fulfilled a dream playing it.

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The University of Alberta product was on the field for the Edmonton Elks against the Calgary Stampeders in the two-game division.

The Elks won the annual Labor Day Classic in Calgary, before losing the second half of the home and away series at Commonwealth Stadium last Saturday.

The Elks will host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this Saturday (7:45 p.m.) at Commonwealth Stadium, chasing their first home win of the season.

“It was pretty cool,” Nelson said Wednesday. “I used to go all the time when I was a kid to watch the games with my dad. It’s the first time I’ve won in nine years in Calgary so it was really cool to be a part of it and dad was in Calgary to watch so it put a tear in my eye for sure. .

“But we haven’t won twice in a row, so that makes me uncomfortable, because I also used to fight Calgary in college, playing against the Dinos de l ‘. U of C.

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Six-foot-six, 312-pound defensive lineman Nelson, 24, was selected by the Elks fifth overall in the 2021 CFL Draft. He is in his first season with the Elks after spending five years with the Golden Bears under former CFL star Chris Morris.

Growing up, he and his father went to games to watch Edmonton and Calgary fight on the grill, sometimes at McMahon and Commonwealth stadiums.

“My dad worked in Calgary so it would depend on the year,” Nelson said. “I had a condo there when I was very young, when he worked a lot in Calgary, I remember we went to both.”

The Elks rely on Nelson to play in both for several years. They were very attached to him in the draft and delighted that he was still available at the time of their selection.

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“I liked Cole from the moment I called him and told him we drafted him, because he took the phone out of his ear and yelled, ‘F yeah’,” said Elks head coach Jaime Elizondo. “I loved him from that moment on and I’m excited about him. His development has been good, coach Max (Demetrious Maxie) is doing a good job with him.

“There aren’t a lot of guys who move so well and are that big. When they left college, they had it everywhere; linebacker, D line. Now that he is a little more settled in the D line, he is improving with his technique. It’s different at this level, you see a lot more blocking patterns, a lot more technique, so there is still some improvement to be made there, but there is a real big advantage with it.

Growing up watching the Green and Gold, getting the chance to play for the Elks is a huge honor for Nelson. While he admits there is a steep learning curve between Canadian college football and the CFL, there’s nowhere else Cole would prefer to ply his trade.

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“It really means everything, I want to make my dad proud,” Nelson said. “We come together to watch together; I know my family is super excited about this, I’m super excited about it. My varsity coach played here, his name is on the (Honor) Wall, it’s kind of the culture I grew up in. It certainly means a lot to me.

Having Nelson on the roster also means a lot to the Elks. As the team enter their game against Winnipeg 2-3, still chasing a home win this season, the Elks have played well defensively. And he played his part in defensive success.

“He’s a hard worker and that bodes well for him,” said defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe. “He’s a big, strong guy and he has the will to work. Coach Max really took him under his wing and worked with him technically.

“There are basically things he has to work on. He certainly has the strength and power, and he comes early and stays late to work on his art and knowledge of the game and learn how to be a good passer. He’s got enough strength to really fill a gap and after that he’s really constantly working on his pass rush technique.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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